Friday, April 25, 2014
Spring game preview: Michigan State
By Brian Bennett
The spring football odyssey in the Big Ten wraps up this weekend, as the final three spring games will take place Saturday. As we've done with the previous 11, we're going to preview each event. Let's take a look at the defending Big Ten champion Michigan State Spartans' spring fling:
When: 2 p.m. ET Saturday
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
Admission: Free. Fans may also purchase press box seats for $75 (deadline is noon today). Stadium gates A, B, C, D and G open at 12:30 p.m. The first 30,000 fans will receive a commemorative 2013 championship team poster, and the team will be honored at halftime. Fans are invited to take photos with the 2013 Legends Division, Big Ten championship game and Rose Bowl championship trophies from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the southwest ramp of Spartan Stadium, adjacent to Gate C.
TV: Big Ten Network (live).
Weather forecast: Mostly sunny, with a high near 56 degrees.
Michigan State's spring game festivities allow Mark Dantonio's Spartans to celebrate the past and look forward to the future.
What to watch for: This is a spring game but also -- as you can tell by the festivities -- a celebration of the Spartans' 2013 championship run. Head coach Mark Dantonio has said he wants 50,000 fans to show up because "that's where this program needs to go." That would be more than double the estimated turnout from a year ago, but the weather looks much better for Saturday than it did for the '13 spring game.
The team held its annual player draft on Wednesday afternoon, and the White team ended up with starting quarterback Connor Cook. Redshirt freshman Damion Terry, whom fans were clamoring for early last season, will see time at quarterback for both teams. It will be fascinating to see how the Spartans incorporate him this fall.
Other things to watch for include a new-look defense that is replacing six starters, including four All-Big Ten performers. Linebacker will be a particular area of curiosity, with Max Bullough and Denicos Allen gone and younger players such as Jon Reschke, Riley Bullough and Shane Jones pushing for playing time. Redshirt freshman safety Jalyn Powell was the surprise first draft pick among the safeties, ahead of veterans RJ Williamson and Demetrious Cox, so he obviously has the respect of his teammates.
Offensively, Michigan State returns the nucleus from last season's squad, although there will be some new faces on the offensive line. Tight end Jamal Lyles has turned a lot of heads this spring and could be unleashed on Saturday.
Regardless of how the spring game goes, Spartans fans should have plenty of reasons to smile this weekend.