East Lansing — By Monday afternoon there were only three days left in preseason camp at Michigan State, and that alone made for a different feel.
A week longer than in the past, camp this season has seen its share of changes — having Sundays off, included — but it’s still a physical and mental drain. Getting through unscathed to the first game week is the goal and with the days winding down, the Spartans can see the finish line.
“They’ve got a little bit to look forward to this week because we’ll give them a little time off and a chance to maybe go home and watch their high school football game, things like that,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “We’ll give then Friday and Saturday, so that will be a positive for them and they can look forward to that, get their legs back and then get back at it on Sunday in the late afternoon.
“I think they see the light at the end of the tunnel, so that’s a positive vibe out here.”
That vibe likely will improve as Michigan State begins to transition from camp mode into game preparation.
Looking forward to Bowling Green will begin in earnest on Sunday, but the Spartans will spend part of this week focusing on the opener before closing camp on Thursday and picking captains.
“Our first game has been a long time coming, so I sense our excitement every day in practice, especially when we go against each other in a scrimmage situation,” Dantonio said. “There’s a good feeling about this football team, but more importantly we’re looking forward to that first game and that first opportunity.
“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve gone through some things here, and it’s not been easy, but I think we’ve maintained our composure this summer.”
In the meantime, the battle to sort out the depth chart continues. While some spots have been clear for some time, plenty are up for grabs, and for that reason Dantonio wants to let the week play out before releasing any sort of depth chart to the public.
“I think you know some of the guys that will play for sure,” Dantonio said, “but when you look across it we’ve got a lot of guys that are sort of competing for that second position or, ‘Is he a three or a is he a two?’ Right now, when you look at our scout team there are a lot of guys that can go either way in that. So, it’s sort of being determined a little bit in that area and I think we have a good sense of where we’re at but it sort of seems to be the going deal right now.
“We’ll stay with that right now and see how it shakes out, but I think that’s the fair thing to do with our players.”
Fullback is a position that can often get overlooked in camp, but for Michigan State it’s a key one considering its trying to replace a starter.
Junior Collin Lucas, a former walk-on, graduate transfer Joe Palange of Utah State and freshman walk-on Max Rosenthal are the most likely to see playing time.
“Collin Lucas has been very solid there and Joe Palange is a grad transfer that we’re seeing if he can catch up to speed a little bit,” Dantonio said. “Max Rosenthal is a guy that is a talented new guy that walked on but is big, physical and has a great future, so we’ll see how he progresses.”