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Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Young players shine in MSU scrimmage

By staff

Michigan State hopes its improved depth makes a difference in the close games that have dogged coach Mark Dantonio for most of his tenure.

If Monday's scrimmage at Spartan Stadium is any indication, the Spartans will have more options in 2010.

All-American linebacker Greg Jones did his thing (12 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks), but several young players also performed well in the jersey scrimmage, which the defense won 95-89 based on a modified scoring system. The young standouts included:
I continue to be surprised by how much Michigan State throws the ball in its scrimmages. The Spartans were unquestionably a pass-first team in 2009, when they finished second in the Big Ten in passing (269.4 ypg), but it seemed likely they would stress the run more this fall.

It still could happen, but since Cousins stepped into the spotlight at quarterback, Michigan State has taken to the air. And for good reason. The Spartans' receiving corps is stacked, and they have two tight ends (Charlie Gantt and Brian Linthicum) on the Mackey Award preseason watch list.

Cousins attempted 42 passes Monday, completing 26 of them for 306 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Emerging star Keshawn Martin led the way with eight catches for 83 yards, while B.J. Cunningham had seven receptions for 65 yards and two touchdowns.

According to Dantonio, turnovers were the difference in the scrimmage, which is good and bad. But after Michigan State struggled to generate takeaways in 2009, it's more of a promising sign than a negative one.