Michigan State announces spring game, but whether fans can attend is uncertain
Michigan State is planning to play a spring game, but what it will look like and whether any fans will be in Spartan Stadium is unclear.
The Spartans began spring practice on Tuesday morning and announced the annual Green and White game would take place on April 24.
“I don't know if it’s going to be open to the fans,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said. “I hope that it is. I’d love to get the fans in there.”
It’s been a while since the Spartans have played in front of a crowd. The 2020 season was limited to eight scheduled Big Ten games and the conference did not allow fans at any of those games, other than mostly families of players and coaches. Michigan State played only seven after its final game at Maryland was canceled because of COVID cases within the Maryland program.
On Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced outdoor stadiums would be allowed to admit up to 20% of its capacity. Spartan Stadium’s capacity is listed at 75,005, meaning roughly 15,000 fans would be allowed to attend the spring game.
Earlier this month, MSU President Samuel Stanley said in a letter to the university he expected a “more typical” fall semester and added that the plan was to have fans in attendance at sporting events.
“Certainly a spring game with fans, loud, buzz; I’d like to have the band out there, cheerleaders out there, get the mascot out there,” Tucker said. “Get the whole thing going if we can. But that's to be determined how much of that we'll be able to do. We'll see.”
Not only would it be good for everyone to get back to watching football, Tucker sees a practical advantage to a standard game setting, as well.
“I would like to have a game, a real spring game,” he said. “But that's going to depend on how many players we have available at that time. You want to put the players in as many game-like situations as you can. In college you don't get preseason games like you do in NFL, and so anytime you get a chance to scrimmage or play a game, you want to take advantage of those opportunities. Everything that we do we want to try to make it as game-like as possible without wearing our guys out and banging them up and getting a lot of guys hurt.”
There was at least one position change reflected on the roster Michigan State released on Tuesday. Junior Brandon Wright has moved from running back to defensive end.
Wright had only 24 carries for 61 yards in 12 career games as he exits a crowded running back room and enters one with the defensive ends that could use an infusion of athleticism.
“In the fall it was more of an experiment,” Tucker said of Wright’s move. “Right now, he's a defensive end and we're going to develop them there. He can rush, and we need edge pressure. We need edge rushers. We need to have speed off the edge. You can't really get pressure on the quarterback with four guys if you don't have great pocket push inside and speed off the edge, and if you can't get pressure with four guys then you have to rely on pressures and blitzes to get home.
“We’re not going to be a very good defense if you have to rely solely on pressures to get to the quarterback. So, we feel like he can give us something that's much needed on the edge.”