Dantonio sees much to like in scrimmage

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State held its first scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday, and while no statistics were released — a departure from past seasons — there was some indication what direction the Spartans are headed.

The defense defeated the offense, 30-14, using a modified scoring system. The scrimmage at Spartan Stadium lasted 180 plays and went for nearly three hours.

“We got some things done,” coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “We can establish who’s who on our depth chart as we move forward (in preseason camp). We have a lot of good football players here, and they need to have an opportunity to show what they’ve got, especially our freshmen. So we tried to work those guys in today. Some of the guys who’ve played a lot for us, we held them out a little bit in this scrimmage. It was a great scrimmage, and we saw some great things out there. We just need to review the film and evaluate it.”

The battle for the No. 1 tailback spot will be closely watched up until the season-opener Sept. 4 at Western Michigan.

Dantonio gave some indication how the running backs fared, as well as the offense as a whole.

“Offensively, we need to finish drives, and we had too many unforced errors, which is usually the way it is in the first scrimmage,” Dantonio said. “I thought we did some good things offensively and defensively. We’re going to evaluate the film, but a lot of guys had opportunities to make plays on both sides of the ball.

“All four tailbacks got some work. We saw some great things out of LJ Scott, Madre London and Gerald Holmes. Nick Tompkins had opportunities to carry the ball as well. Delton Williams will be back tomorrow in shells, so we have four or five different tailbacks that can do some things for us. It’s becoming a deep position.

“Both (punter) Jake Hartbarger and (placekicker) Michael Geiger did outstanding. Jake was real today, and that was impressive to see.”

Michigan State has now completed one full week of preseason camp.

“As we head into our second week of preseason camp, we’ve got to keep working on the different situations that we’re going to see in a game,” Dantonio said. “We’ve got a lot of things in, but we need to continue building toward next week’s big scrimmage. We’re going to hit those dog days right now, where it’s a grind. We’ve been in pads for four days, but we’ve got to move to the next level. We’ve got to see who’s got a little staying power.”