Well we all expected it, and we got it: The defense outplayed the offense in another spring game. With a 1:48 left in the second quarter the White defense had outscored both offenses 14-3. Chris Laneaux had a 25 yard interception return for a touchdown (thrown by O’connor) and Kyler Elsworth recovered a fumble and took it back 41 yards to the house. But the Green team was quick to respond giving us our first offensive touchdown of the game, a 22 yard pass from Connor Cook to DeAnthony Arnett. Surely Spartan fans loved that hook-up as many have been calling for Cook and Arnett both to see more time on the field. That score took us into the half wondering if it was a sign of things to come or was it going to be the lone passing touchdown of the day?
Apparently the teams wanted to keep us guessing as the only score in the 3rd quarter came on a Nick Hill 7 yard run. With 4:32 left in the game a name that has been popping up all spring popped up again when AJ Troup took a short pass from Andrew Maxwell 46 yards to the house. Some may say the defenders took a bad angle and that is why Troup scored, but regardless the walk-on got his name out there again! Kevin Muma and Kevin Cronin both had a 30 yard field goal’s and the game ended with the white team winning 24-17.
But what can we take from this? Were any key position battles answered? Who stepped up and made a name for themselves today if anyone?
QB: Everyone in East Lansing loves to talk about the quarterback, but what college town doesn’t? Unfortunately for all the Andrew Maxwell haters out there: I think he will be the guy. O’connor looked like he needs another year on the sidelines and though Cook can make plays, he also makes a lot of mistakes. Coach Dantonio chimed in, “Maxwell will start camp as the number 1 but if Cook can clean up mistakes he will be right there.” Basically this has become a two-man race with Maxwell and Cook, but Maxwell is currently the clear favorite for the job.
HB: Uhm Le’Veon, could you come back another year? Okay I was joking, but not really. Though MSU does have three very capable freshman coming in at halfback, the fans would have loved to see someone shine at the position today. Jeremy Langford who was the talk of the position heading into the spring has continued to play average. He rushed 10 times for a total of 31 yards, which comes to an AVERAGE average of 3.1 yards per carry. Anyone seeing my point: he was average. Sorry for putting you through all those “averages” but I was trying to make it clear that he has not lived up to hype that started a few years ago. What about Riley Bullough? He lived up to the strange hype he has been receiving (converted linebacker) and bruised his way to 48 yards on 11 carries coming to an average of 4.2 yards per carry. Maybe Riley Bullough really is the definition of “Pound Green Pound.” Nick Hill didn’t do much, though I think that the coaches still like him a lot more than Langford. Redshirt Freshman Nick Tompkins impressed me with his burst on a 30 yard gain. Tompkins finished the game with 4 attempts for 43 yards and a 10.8 yards per carry average. This race is still wide open, and I expect the three incoming freshman: Gerald Holmes, R.J. Shelton and Delton Williams all to have an opportunity to see the field this year.
Who Stepped up:
Aaron Burbridge: I said it last year and Ill say it again: Aaron Burbridge has the chance to be special. After missing part of his freshman season last year with an injury, Burbridge came on strong late and impressed many people. It looks like he started where he left off last season, as he caught 5 passes for 113 yards in the spring game with a long of 40 yards. Burbridge has shown the ability to make a spectacular catch and showed it again today a couple of times. I think he will have a big year and may eventually break some Michigan State receiving records before his Spartan career is over.
Ezra Robinson: Robinson was likely going to be the Spartans 3rd corner anyway, but wow did he have a good game before leaving due to injury. He had 2 tackles and an interception, and he put himself in position to have two INT’s when he jumped Bennie Fowler’s route but dropped the ball. His injury will not result in any missed playing time next season, though he did return on crutches. Ezra’s ability to cover and jump routes has surely secured him the 3rd corner position behind Darqueze Dennard and Trae Waynes.
Denzel Drone: The senior has seen the field a lot over his years here, but was only used on 3rd downs last year. Drone had a fantastic spring game racking up 2.5 tackles for loss, including 2 sacks. Michigan State struggled getting to the Quarterback last year in comparison to the year before, maybe Drone will be a big part of changing that? Narduzzi loves to pressure the opposing QB, but hopefully Drone can help make sure the Spartans do more than just pressure quarterbacks.
DeAnthony Arnett: Well I know you guys love this man, and I cannot blame you. Why didn’t Arnett see the field more last year? Was it his attitude or did the coaches actually think that the players ahead of him were better options? I have no idea and could not even try to answer those questions, but I can tell you that Arnett has continued to impress when given the opportunity. He caught 2 passes for 30 yards, including a 22 yard TD catch from Connor Cook. Arnett has the speed the Spartans need at wideout, but he also appears to have quite a few players ahead of him on the depth-chart including: Fowler, Burbridge, Mumphery and Lippett at the least. Maybe AJ Troup has passed him up as well? What about McGarret Kings Jr? From my point of view it looks like the Spartan coaching staff will have a ton of players capable of seeing the field this year at WR, and Arnett did a good job today to work himself into that playing group.
Worth Noting:Riley Bullough completed a pass to brother Max Bullough and the PA announcer gave a loud: “Bullough to Bullough for a 12 yard gain."