Last Thursday I accompanied Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal to the Michigan State Spartans’ practice field. The practice was in preparation of the Green and White game, which took place last Saturday.
In case you didn’t hear, the Green team—led by quarterback Kirk Cousins—defeated the White squad led by All-America senior linebacker Greg Jones.
The game itself is not truly important in the grand scheme of things, nor is it an indication as to how the season will turn out many months from now. It is sort of a large talent evaluation, while also giving fans of the program the pleasure of seeing football being played in mid-April.
On the Thursday before the game, head coach Mark Dantonio talked to reporters about the game itself, along with expectations for the regular season.
"I think we've had as good a spring as we've had since I've been here in certain positions," he said. "We need to come a ways in some other positions."
"But it's been a great spring for us. The chemistry is good, leadership is good, the guys feel good about themselves, they feel good about their progress, and we've worked them hard. So I feel good about the spring."
That is a good sign for a team that almost folded when expectations heightened before the beginning of last season. One area of the team that struggled heavily was defense.
"We have forced turnovers throughout the spring so far, and that's a positive, and I think we're tackling well in space," Dantonio said. "It's always a big unknown how you are going to tackle great players and how you are going to play."
Dantonio admitted he still tends to examine the play of his defensive backs—a part of the defense in which he has an acute affinity.
Some other things Dantonio talked about included freshman running back LeVeon Bell.
The tailback from Ohio has impressed his coaches and teammates so far, so much so that Dantonio even said he could play a large role in the offense this upcoming season. It was a bold statement considering how running backs Edwin Baker and Larry Caper—both sophomores next season—finished out the season, especially Baker in the Alamo Bowl.
He also talked about the levelheadedness of the team.
The Spartans’ offseason troubles towards the end of last year made national headlines and made the university seem like "Thug U." But Dantonio seems to have righted the ship—at least for now.
Spartan fans can only hope that the past is definitively in the past, and that the future presents a lot of unique opportunities. One thing is certain: Dantonio continues to thrust the program in the right direction.