Big Ten: Ashton Henderson
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
If Monday's situational scrimmage at Spartan Stadium is any indication, Michigan State's passing attack should be more dynamic this fall.
The offense beat the defense in the 124-play scrimmage by a score of 73-61 -- don't ask me to explain the scoring system -- and several wide receivers stood out. Michigan State continued to split things pretty evenly between quarterbacks Keith Nichol and Kirk Cousins, though it appears that Nichol, the Oklahoma transfer, delivered the better performance.
He completed 17 of 26 passes for 241 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, including a 52-yard scoring strike to Chris D. Rucker. Cousins, the team's primary backup last year, tossed two touchdowns and an interception but completed just 13 of 30 attempts. The sophomore completed 74.4 percent of his passes last season.
Rucker had a scrimmage-high 90 receiving yards, though true freshman tight end Dion Sims led in receptions with seven for 60 yards. Michigan State is extremely excited about Sims, a two-sport star in high school, and he'll only add to a loaded group of tight ends. Sophomore Keshawn Martin also had five receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown.
As for the running back race, sophomore Ashton Leggett, who briefly inched ahead in the competition this spring, had 91 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, including a 63-yard burst. Senior A.J. Jimmerson had 36 rush yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Redshirt freshman defensive end Tyler Hoover stood out on defense with two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Junior linebacker Eric Gordon recorded a sack and two pass breakups, and senior cornerback Ashton Henderson had an interception and two pass breakups.