August 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Coach Mark Dantonio dials up intensity as Michigan State has first full practice in pads

East Lansing — On Monday, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi likened practice in shorts to soccer.

Needless to say, he’s not a big fan.

He doesn’t have to worry about that anymore as the Spartans went through their first practice in full pads Wednesday. Coach Mark Dantonio, while professing he enjoys soccer, admitted football in pads is a far different deal than without.

“There’s a different level of intensity and it counts a little bit more, because you’ve got to actually get them down,” Dantonio said. “The only way to do that is by practicing that. It has to be controlled, I think we try to control the tempos, but it’s very difficult to get game speed and game situations. We try to simulate it as much as we can but the bottom line is, can you get them down and can you run through a tackle?”

It’s just the first week of practice, so the dog days have yet to set in for the Spartans, but with the first scrimmage of camp coming on Saturday, getting into playing condition is imperative.

“It’s hard work out here and it’s full contact and it’s not an easy game,” he said. “I tell our guys all the time, this is not a video game. You don’t get to line them up like that and press a button. This is the real deal out there. So you’ve got to prepare yourself for that, just like everybody else in the country is.”

Dantonio added there have been no significant injuries through the early days of camp with defensive tackle Damon Knox continuing to be the only notable absence.

Spartans freshman Enoch Smith Jr., right, takes a bead on teammate Dillon Alexander, left, under the watchful eye of coach Mark Dantonio on Wednesday morning in East Lansing. / Dale G. Young / Detroit News