MSU coach Mark Dantonio and his players went swimming Tuesday night. (Dale G. Young / Detroit News)
East Lansing — Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio often talks about breaking up the monotony of preseason camp.
Going through the same workouts and practices day after day can be a grind. So Tuesday night, the Spartans hit the pool.
“Anything you can do to create a bit of a different setting for them I think is positive, and I think they had a good time over there,” Dantonio said. “Played a little corn hole, watched people go off the boards and stuff.”
The players tried to get Dantonio to go off the diving board, but the coach thought better of it. Instead, his focus is on the team’s second scrimmage of camp Friday and how that will start to shape this season’s roster.
For plenty of players deep in position battles, the scrimmage will be one of the last chances for them to prove they belong on the field.
“Every snap is huge,” Dantonio said before practice Thursday. “We went live Monday. We went live yesterday. We will go live I guess eight times this summer camp. We’ve done two (this week). We’ll do three tomorrow and tomorrow will be an extensive scrimmage.”
And by the time the Spartans begin the third week of camp, they will have a pretty good idea of who will play where while they sprinkle in some preparation for the opening game against Jacksonville State on Aug. 29.
“(We will have) a pretty good idea of who’s going to play, but at the same time you don’t want to play a couple of guys for just a couple of plays and then them not play (much the rest of the year),” Dantonio said. “So you have to be able to maintain that, they have to show that consistency. You have to stay healthy. Again, that’s the big thing.”
As for the ongoing linebacker battle, Dantonio again singled out sophomore Riley Bullough while adding he has been impressed with fifth-year senior Mylan Hicks.
Hicks was hampered by injuries most of his career before making the switch from defensive back to linebacker last season. Now he is close to contributing in his final season.
“Mylan Hicks has been a guy that you notice,” Dantonio said. “You notice No. 6, notice him running, notice him moving. You notice his leadership out there as well. There’s always somebody in camp that catches your eye. … I think he is gonna have a presence … a situational guy.”