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MSU Spring Game

I went to the MSU Spring Game on Saturday and I didn’t pay as close attention as I would have liked. I did DVR the game, so I will be able to watch it again and give better insight.

But I figured I would write what I saw during the game before I forgot.

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I am worried about the QB/WR situation. The WRs aren’t catching the ball. I don’t know if that is the fault of our WRs or our QBs, but it is an issue. Aaron Burbridge (WR) reminds me of a slightly smaller B.J. Cunningham because he makes plays and adjusts to the ball.  I also noticed that the WR from Tennessee (DeAnthony Arnett) made a good catch or two. But besides them, there were still WAY too many dropped balls.

None of the QBs impressed me. So I am hoping that Maxwell stays as our starter because he has more in-game experience. 

However, I think our running game will be fine. No we don’t have Le’Veon Bell, but now we have possibly 2 who each possess the qualities Bell had (power and speed/mobility). Power from Bullough and Speed from Hill. I think our defense is just as good as always. Interchanging those two will be a great balance in our run game.

I am really excited to see how our co-offenseive coordinators do. I was never happy with Roushar’s play-calling. 

Our defense is phenomenal like always. Tawian Jones (LB) and Mylan Hicks (CB) stood out the most in my opinion. The line was quick off the snap and had many opportunities to sack the QB (if the QBs were live). The secondary was strong too, with a lot of pass breakups and interceptions.

I don’t remember which team (green or white), but I noticed the QBs were scrambling way too much. I don’t know if it was because the Oline is as bad as last year, or if the defense is just that good. But that made me worried.

Filed under Michigan State Spartans College Football Spring Game Aaron Burbridge B.J. Cunningham DeAnthony Arnett Andrew Maxwell Connor Cook Tyler O'Connor Le'Veon Bell Nick Hill Riley Bullough Tawian Jones Mylan Hicks

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This was the hardest decision of my life. It’s difficult to leave my teammates and coaches as well as Spartan Nation, … but I couldn’t pass on pursuing my dream and the opportunity to change my mom’s life. I would’ve have written a better script for my final game in a Spartan uniform, coming back from a 13-0 deficit to win in the final minute. I ran the ball well against a great TCU defense, but the most important thing was getting the W. … It was exciting to celebrate with my teammates one last time and leave on that note. Although I’m leaving, Michigan State still has some capable running backs returning, in Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford. … Those guys will be running behind a talented and experienced offensive line. … Nick and Jeremy are both tough, talents athletes and their time is now.

Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State Junior Running Back) after deciding to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft

Found on @MSU_Football Twitter

Filed under Le'Veon Bell Michigan State Spartans College Football Nick Hill Jeremy Langford NFL NFL Draft

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MSU win Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl 17-16 over TCU

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Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans stands with his team before taking the field for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against the TCU Horned Frogs at Sun Devil Stadium on December 29, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Quarterback Andrew Maxwell… (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Starting quarterback, Andrew Maxwell, struggled the entire game. He threw 6/15 for 28 yards and 2 almost interceptions. He was taken out of the game multiple times and replaced with Conner Cook.

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Safety Isaiah Lewis…intercepts a second quarter pass…(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Running back Le’Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans throws a 29 yard pass during the thrid quarter…(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Arguably the biggest play of the game came from Le’Veon Bell in the 3rd quarter. However, it wasn’t made by his feet. Bell got a direct snap and threw the ball 29 yards to fullback TyQuan Hammock for a 1st down.  

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Linebacker TyQuan Hammock #49 of the Michigan State Spartans catches a 29 yard reception against the TCU Horned Frogs during the thrid quarter…(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Fullback/Linebacker, TyQuan Hammock, caught a pass from Running Back, Le’Veon Bell, in the 3rd quarter for a 1st down. This was the first catch of his career.

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Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge…dives into the end zone to score a 15 yard touchdown reception past cornerback Kevin White #25 of the TCU Horned Frogs during the thrid quarter…(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Aaron Burbridge is a true freshman and and no one knew who he was until about halfway through the season.  After this game, everyone will know who he is. He had 3 receptions for 22 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per catch.

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Quarterback Connor Cook #18 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts after throwing a 15 yard touchdown reception…during the thrid quarter…(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Michigan State seemed to be stuck in a rut during the 3rd quarter, before putting together a 14 play scoring drive let by back up quarterback Conner Cook. Conner Cook threw 4/11 for 47 yards and 1 touchdown.
 

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Running back Le’Veon Bel…(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
After only rushing 11 times for 38 yards, Le’Veon Bell came back SRONG in the 2nd half, rushing for a total 32 times for 145 yards and 1 touchdown in the 4th quarter. 

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Defensive end William Gholston #2…celebrates with Max Bullough #40, after a sack against the TCU Horned Frogs during the fourth quarter…(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
I wish I had the stats for him from tonights game, but they haven’t been posted anywhere yet. Either way, he was named Defensive Player of the Game. 

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Kicker Dan Conroy #4 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates with offensive tackle Skyler Burkland #70 and guard Donavon Clark #76 after kicking a 47 yard field goal…The Spartans defeated the Horned Frogs 17-16. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Dan Conroy kicked the game winning field goal. Not much more I can say. This season Dan Conroy was 22/31 FG, 23/23 PAT, he made THREE 50 yard field goals this season against Boise State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State.

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Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans holds the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl trophy after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 17-16 at Sun Devil Stadium on December 29, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Look at that smile! It’s rare, so cherish it. 

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I would also like to make note of Nick Hill’s kick returns today. 3 returns for 75 yards, his longest was 29 yards. He reminded me of Keshawn Martin (except Martin was more of a punt returner). Nick Hill’s speed is unbelievable and I can’t wait to see what he will produce for us next year. I want to see him take one to the house! 

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I would also like to mention punter, Mike Sadler. He played a huge role today, and as usual, goes unnamed. He had multiple punts that were caught inside the 10, and a couple that MSU was able to get to and make TCU start with in the 5. One of his punts was muffed by a TCU player and MSU was able to recover. He even sacrificed himself to make sure a TCU player went out of bounds, after the rest of the MSU defense missed the punt returner.  He ended the regular season with 68 punts, averaging 43.2 yards per punt. His longest was 70 and only had 5 touchbacks. 

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All pictures (except last two) are from ESPN.COM
Bold words are my thoughts/research/etc. 
The other writing are the pictures captions from ESPN.com

Filed under Michigan State Spartans Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl TCU Horned Frogs Mark Dantonio Andrew Maxwell Isaiah Lewis Le'Veon Bell TyQuan Hammock Aaron Burbridge Conner Cook William Gholston Max Bullough Larry Caper Dan Conroy Donavon Clark Skyler Burkland Nick Hill Mike Sadler College Football

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Things we can take away from MSU beats Eastern, 23-7

straight-from-the-mitten:

As always, the defense looked good. The 7 points were given up only after a fumble deep in our own territory. Otherwise there was pressure, and coverage was good for most of the day. Less than 200 yards were allowed.

But keep in mind this is Eastern Michigan University.

The offense looked like its usual inept self in the first half. Many dropped passes. Maxwell was off-target a couple times. Bell didn’t even get into the endzone till the fourth quarter. The second half the offense actually looked like they were in sync for once. A solid formula for success seems to be Bell + Sims. Sims had 112 yards and a TD. Le’Veon Bell had over 250 yards in a HUGE day, and the offensive line looked much more cohesive giving Maxwell time on many plays. Dan Conroy made 3 FGs.

Miscues:

Conroy missed his first FG attempt.

Nick Hill fumbled a punt (luckily Kurtis Drummond was there to pick it up).

Saw dropped passes by Fowler and Mumphery.

Fowler caught a pass, then dropped it for a fumbled that directly led to EMU’s lone score.

Bright Spots:

Dion Sims can catch the ball.

Stretched the field laterally a little with an end-around to Mumphery and stretch plays to Le’Veon. So a little more variety to the offense.

There was a pass rush, and a sack from Denicos Allen today.

Defense forced a fumble.

Stat of the day:

MSU punted only ONCE in the second half…the other drives led to touchdowns or field goals, or the ending of the game.

" A solid formula for success seems to be Bell + Sims." HOW HASN’T ANYONE FIGURED THIS OUT YET? I knew this would be the case before the season even started. Clearly our WRs can’t make catches, so stop throwing to them. It’s really that simple.

On top of that I noticed a lot of the WRs and Nick Hill are looking for a running lane or trying to run BEFORE they actually catch the ball. That NEEDS to be addressed. 

(Source: )

Filed under College Football Michigan State Spartans Eastern Michigan Andrew Maxwell Le'Veon Bell Dion Sims Dan Conroy Nick Hill Kurtis Drummond Bennie Fowler Keith Mumphery Denicos Allen

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At the end of the Michigan State @ Central Michigan game, #22 Larry Caper pushes #20 Nick Hill back into the end-zone after a kick off.

Filed under michigan state spartans college football central michigan larry caper nick hill

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Phil Steele’s preseason All-Big Ten teams (Michigan State players)

First Team:
William Gholston (Jr. DE)
Johnny Adams (Sr. CB)
Isaiah Lewis (Jr. S)
Chris McDonald (Sr. OG)

Second Team:
Denicos Allen (Jr. OLB)
Max Bullough (Jr. MLB)
Dan Conroy (Sr. K)
Fou Fonoti (Sr. OT)
Marcus Rush (So. DE)

Third Team:
Le’Veon Bell (Jr. RB)
Darqueze Dennard (Jr. CB)
Dan France (Jr. OT)
Nick Hill (So. RB)
Tony Lippett (So. WR)

Fourth Team:
Dion Sims (Jr. TE)
Chris Norman (Sr. OLB)

Filed under Phil Steele Preseason All-Big Ten William Gholston Johnny Adams Isaiah Lewis Chris McDonald Denicos Allen Max Bullough Dan Conroy Fou Fonoti March Rush Le'Veon Bell Darqueze Dennard Dan France Nick Hill Tony Lippett Dion Sims Chris Norman Michigan State Spartans College Football

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What MSU Fans Need to Watch During Spring Game

1. Passing Game
The quarterback (Andrew Maxwell vs Connor Cook) and wide receiver (Tony Lippett vs Bennie Fowler vs Keith Mumphery vs DeAnthony Arnett) positions are up for grabs, along with some tight end spots (Dion Sims vs Evan Jones vs Josiah Price. 

2. Offensive Line
As mentioned before, the offensive line should be stable this coming season. Most of the men return for another year, and each position is packed with talented backups. 

3. Running Game
Last season the running game was not very effective due to very few veterans on the offensive line. Now that the linemen have more experience, expect the running backs to carry the ball more often. LeVeon Bell had an excellent season last year with carries split between Edwin Baker and Larry Caper. Baker declaring early to the NFL will give Bell the bulk of the carries this coming season. Bell may have the nod, but the players below him could easily change that. Caper is due for some playing time along with fellow running backs Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford. All of these players will be fun to watch when the spring game begins.  

4. Defense
The whole defense will be something to watch this spring. After ranking in the top 20 in seven statistical categories and being the top defense in the Big Ten, this group is nothing but dominant. A majority of the defense returns this season, but there are some key spots that need replacing. The most critical area that needs to be addressed is the defensive tackle position (after Jerel Worthy declared himself for the NFL draft). 

5. Special Teams (Punt Return) 
The coaches are hoping Nick Hill will be the guy to replace Keshawn Martin. He has great field vision and releases quickly. He averaged 26.3 yards per gain on kick returns he attempted along with five punts returned last year. The most notable loss for MSU is the do-it-all receiver and punt returner Keshawn Martin. 

Filed under Michigan State Spartans College Football Andrew Maxwell Connor Cook Tony Lippett Bennie Fowler Keith Mumphery DeAnthony Arnett Dion Sims Josiah Price Le'Veon Bell Larry Caper Edwin Baker NFL Nick Hill Jeremy Langford Big Ten Jerel Worthy Keshawn Martin

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Outback Bowl 2012: 5 Things Michigan State Needs to Improve on in 2012

1. Return focus to the running game.
with Le’Veon Bell, Larry Caper, Nick Hill 

2. Develop the next Spartan ariel assault 
Andrew Maxwell (Jr. QB), Bennie Fowler (Jr. WR), Tony Lippet (So. WR)

3. Take the defense to the next level
Best in the country not just the Big Ten 

4. No let-down games in 2012
Like Iowa in 2010 and Nebraska in 2011 

5. Expect greatness and play accordingly
Over the past two seasons, the Spartans have notched 22 victories. They have won four straight games over arch-rival Michigan and two of their last three against Wisconsin.

They have finally broken through with a major bowl victory against a high-powered SEC team. In 2011 the Spartans had a defense surpassed only by a few programs in the country, including both participants in next week’s National Championship Game. 

Michigan State is no longer a “nice story” or the Cinderella of the conference. The program is becoming a Big Ten powerhouse that’s capable of playing (and beating) anyone. Despite having the 44th-ranked recruiting class in 2012 (according to Rivals), Michigan State has shown an ability for player development and defying these sorts of rankings under Dantonio and his coaching staff. 

Challenging for Big Ten championships should not only be expected from this program going forward—it should be demanded. Without the previously mentioned slip-ups in games against Nebraska and Iowa, Michigan State would be in the National Championship conversation.

These types of expectations may seem unrealistic, but dreams do not become reality without that kind of belief. For the Spartans and their fans, the future is brighter than ever.

The team needs only to go out and take it.

(Found on Bleacher Report)

Filed under College Football Michigan State Spartans Le'Veon Bell Larry Caper Nick Hill Andrew Maxwell Bennie Fowler Tony Lippet Big Ten

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Nick Hill makes big impression in backfield for Spartans

Nick Hill is facing an uphill battle. Sure, it’s one he’s faced much of his career. After all, the redshirt freshman running back is only 5-foot-6. In fact, his Michigan State teammates have given him the nickname “Mini Mike,” referencing his resemblance of former Michigan running back Mike Hart.

But the real battle for Hill is trying to find carries in a backfield that includes Edwin Baker, Larry Caper and Le’Veon Bell.

Last season, as Hill sat out his redshirt year, Baker was busy gaining more than 1,200 yards, Bell became the standout freshman with 605 yards and eight touchdowns and Caper was bouncing back from injury after leading the Spartans in rushing as a freshman. All told, the trio ran for 1,950 yards and accounted for 24 touchdowns.

Those aren’t exactly numbers that lend themselves to a young player cracking the lineup.

But two weeks into spring practice, the former two-time All-State player from Chelsea is turning heads. "Every time he gets the ball, he makes something happen," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said of Hill. 

Even with the talent in the backfield, opportunity still exists for Hill to get on the field. ”I think he had a phenomenal winter and I’m anxious to see him run behind us,” offensive coordinator Dan Roushar said at the start spring practice two weeks ago. “The competition is high.”

It appears Hill is making the most of his opportunity. And he credits the competition as one reason he has been able to improve. ”It is a battle during spring ball and also during the season,” said Hill, who ran for 1,989 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior at Chelsea in 2009. “We all want to get on the field and get a lot of (playing time), but we’re concentrating on getting better. … We’re making each other better by competing. It is a battle, but we’re having fun in the process.”

Bell agrees. ”All of our backs have something to bring to the table,” he said. “(Baker) is very explosive with a low center of gravity, like Nick, and his hard to bring down. Me and Larry are a little longer. We all push each other and just make each other better by competing.”

It might not have been the freshman season Hill had envisioned. He carried the ball once for 2 yards in a season-opening victory over Western Michigan, but at that point the decision was made to redshirt him. But while Hill was used to being the focal point of the offense, he thinks sitting out helped. ”I think I benefitted by getting the offense down and being able to have bowl practice experience and get the pace and speed of the game of college football,” Hill said. “I would say I’m being a little more patient with my blocks and then when I hit the hole, hit it with acceleration and just play the speed of college football instead of high school football and making that transition.”

Hill’s focus this spring is showing the staff he belongs on the field, whether it be carrying the ball or playing special teams. ”He’s got very good ball skills out of the backfield and catching punts and kicks and those types of things,” running backs coach Brad Salem said. “He’ll get his opportunities, we just have another guy to throw into the mix and keep rolling.”

Filed under Michigan State Spartans College Football Nick Hill Le'Veon Bell Larry Caper Edwin Baker Mark Dantonio Dan Roushar Brad Salem