- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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It's time to finish off our 2012 spring game recaps with a review of Michigan State's Green and White Game from Saturday.
Stars of the game: Defensive ends Marcus Rush and William Gholston. Rush had 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss, while Gholston had a safety and a pass break-up while spending much of the day in the offensive backfield.
How it went down: There was little doubt going into this game that defense would rule the day, as the Spartans return the bulk of a top 10 defense from last year and their offense, still finding its legs in the passing game, missed some key contributors. And so it was, as the White team -- featuring six returning defensive starters -- beat the Green team 14-2. The Green team's only score was that Gholston safety.
"I think we played pretty well, as you can tell by the score," linebacker Denicos Allen said. "We are still developing into a really great defense, and I think we can be better than last year's unit. We have more experience this year but are still young and have to continue to develop."
Connor Cook had to play quarterback for both teams because projected starter Andrew Maxwell is out with a knee injury. Cook completed 20-of-45 passes for 294 yards and threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Andre Sims Jr. with seven seconds left in the first half.
"He grew enormously, I think, in terms of playing in this type of environment, having to play every play also with the TV type situation," head coach Mark Dantonio said. "I think he was very calm in the huddle and did some good things."
The tailbacks were also limited, as Le'Veon Bell played just one series and Larry Caper came out quickly after suffering a minor injury. Nick Hill came through with 19 carries for 95 yards and a TD, but the running was tough going for the most part. Counting sacks, the Green team produced minus-10 yards rushing for the day, and both teams combined for just 59 yards on 38 carries.
You can thank a dominating defense for that. The Spartans got a scare when Gholston was slow to get up after Hill's touchdown and limped off the field, but he was reported to have only a bruised knee. The defensive line looked really impressive.
"I think we have four or five really good defensive ends," Dantonio said. "Shilique Calhoun was a factor today. Obviously, William Gholston and Marcus Rush are very good. I thought Joel Heath did some good things as well."
One of the offensive highlights was provided by a defensive player, as cornerback Johnny Adams switched sides and caught a 45-yard pass.
"He's got big-play ability," Dantonio said. "He's a guy maybe we can flip around a bit. We'll see how that transpires when we get everyone here."