Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio talks about his team's injuries and gives his thoughts on Purdue's defense. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — Michigan State could be getting some help soon in the secondary.
While the offense has suffered most of the lengthy list of injuries this season, cornerback was the first to take a hit back in preseason camp when sophomore Josiah Scott injured his knee and ended up having surgery to repair a meniscus. His replacement, junior Josh Butler, was injured in the victory over Indiana in Week 4 and has been slow to return.
Both could be back soon as Scott will return to practice this week and Butler, who has been dressed each week since his injury, is close to being back on the field, as well.
“First of all, Josh is very close to being able to play,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday. “We'll see how he does this week, and I knew he wanted to play this past weekend. He wanted to get in the game on the sidelines.
“Josiah will start practicing with the team this week. … He's close to being the four-game redshirt thing, so we'll see how that goes. He'll probably dress this week and have an opportunity to play this week if we deem that. But we'll see. It depends on how he practices here Tuesday and Wednesday, but I think that he's close to being good.”
Scott’s return would be welcomed after he was named a freshman All-American last season. Butler played well before his injury and since then, sophomore Tre Person and redshirt freshman Shakur Brown have seen most of the work opposite junior Justin Layne.
When Scott does come back he’ll have to sit out a half because of the targeting call he received in the second half of last season’s Holiday Bowl. And, if he plays in four games or less, he could be redshirted.
Of course, Scott’s injury was just the first of many as the Spartans have been hammered with injuries, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Wide receiver Felton Davis III was the latest to go down, rupturing his Achilles last week in the loss to Michigan.
The Spartans are hoping there is help on the way soon as Dantonio said sophomore receiver Cody White is close to coming back after breaking his hand in the fourth game against Central Michigan. There was no word on the status of sophomore center Matt Allen, who left last week’s game with a leg injury.
How the injuries play into Dantonio’s decision to use freshmen over the final few weeks of the season remains to be seen. What Dantonio won’t do is sacrifice the chance to win games or use a player who isn’t ready to get back on the field.
“Our goal right now is to finish and finish October, and again, see what November brings,” Dantonio said. “I keep saying, we're in every football game, we could win every football game. The goal of this program will be always to win, and that will be the priority. So we'll focus on that, and as we get guys injured back, we'll see how that all shakes out and where they're at in the scheme of things.
“I think the one thing you've got to recognize when you get guys back, are they fully healthy or are they playing hurt? So you want to play the best players, and so you try to do those things.”
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio talks about experiencing "tough Sundays" following a loss on Saturday. Dale G. Young, The Detroit News
Davis ruptured his Achilles when taking off from the line of scrimmage during the first half on Saturday. Dantonio said Davis is set to have surgery on Friday and that he is in good spirits.
“I think his mind is in good shape,” Dantonio said. “He's going to have surgery … from one of the leading surgeons in the country down in North Carolina, and so he'll bounce back. He's young.
“There are a lot of people who have come back from those injuries, especially nowadays. I think back in the day they used to be career ending, but I think nowadays people have those and are able to respond positively. But Felton is a positive guy, and he'll work towards it, and he'll be OK. I think he's got a very bright future.”
Saving a redshirt
Freshman tight end Trenton Gillison saw his first action of the season at Penn State but did not play against Michigan. Dantonio said the highly recruited Gillison will get more playing time but will likely not see action in more than four games, saving his redshirt.
“I don't want to play the guy four plays,” Dantonio said. “I want to play him significantly if we play him. He could be a very good player. He's young, though, so there's that learning process there.”