Defense wins at MSU scrimmage, but offense catching up

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — The offense had its moments on Friday, but it was again the Michigan State defense that came out on top in the second scrimmage of preseason camp.

The defense won the first scrimmage last weekend before coming out on top Friday, 27-20, under a modified scoring system. The scrimmage lasted 148 plays and lasted two and half hours.

“It was a very competitive game,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “I thought the hitting was very crisp; we tackled well, things like that. You have to watch the film to really break it down from there.

“I think we got a lot of things done. We worked a lot of different situations. I think about every situation that could come up in a football game we were able to address out here.”

As has become the norm the last couple of years, little detail was given about the scrimmage, but despite the final score, it appears the offense has made some strides.

“I thought they (offense) improved from last week, there’s no question about that,” Dantonio said. “They protected the quarterback better. We had a lot of people play, and we’re getting ready to get closer to game day. That’s what we wanted to try and do today, was put 10-play drives together and things of that nature, and we got that done.

“I thought our running backs ran well. Even though maybe the yards don’t pile up, I thought they ran effectively, showed power and explosiveness.”

It’s the offense that has the most questions heading into the season, including quarterback, wide receiver and the offensive line.

The scrimmage Friday was expected to go a long way in determining how each position will shake out.

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“It starts to separate people,” Dantonio said. “Like I said all along, we have a deep football team right now. We’ll watch the film and try and make some tough decisions over the weekend, and then we come back for four practices before we have a rehearsal scrimmage, and that’s just finishing things up (for preseason camp).

“The bulk of what we’ve done has been accomplished. I feel good about it. We have some guys nicked up that we’ll get back; they will have an opportunity to heal a little bit. I think we’re on track.”

Michigan State returns to practice on Saturday in preparation for the season-opener Sept. 2 against Furman.