Breaking down MSU's first spring scrimmage

USA TODAY Sports

MSU held its first scrimmage of the spring Friday, and, not surprisingly, the defense won.

The offense was a field goal at the horn away from winning, though. The scoring is based on a system I know nothing about and isn't explained, but here's how MSU described the scrimmage.

Utilizing a modified scoring system, the defense held off the offense, 25-23, in a "situational" scrimmage.

The Spartans played two full quarters and ran 102 plays in the two-hour scrimmage. Needing 25 points for the victory, the offense nearly came away with the win, but Kevin Cronin's 47-yard field-goal attempt fell short in the final seconds.

Here are the notable stats:

Andrew Maxwell: 17-for-27, 187 yards, 3 touchdowns
Connor Cook: 11-for-18, 73 yards, 1 interception
Tyler O'Conner: 6-for-10, 141 yards, 1 touchdown

(Welp, looks like the QB battle is over! But where are the QB rushing numbers?? Dantonio noted again that the QBs are live, so these numbers can be more encouraging than they would be otherwise)

Tony Lippett: 5 catches, 74 yards
Keith Mumphrey: 5 catches, 55 yards, 2 touchdowns
Bennie Fowler: 5 catches, 50 yards
A.Jj Troup: 3 catches 97 yards, 2 touchdowns

(Apparently five is the max amount of catches you can have. Mumphrey or Aaron Burbridge will probably be the No. 1 WR. DeAnthony Arnett did have a catch, for those of you wondering.)

As for the rushing game...

MSU's three primary tailbacks (Nick Hill, Jeremy Langford and Nick Tompkins) combined for 23 rushes.

Interesting that MSU didn't give the individual rushing numbers. Probably a sign no one was any good. There was a quote from Mark Dantonio saying MSU has to run the ball better. Soooo......yeah.

Notable defensive stats:

Trae Waynes: 9 tackles, 2 QB hurries, 1 pass breakup
Kyler Elsworth: 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 pass breakups and 1 QBH
Max Bullough: 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU, 3 QBHs
Shilique Calhoun: 2 tackles, 2 TFLs and 1 sack

We know the defense is going to be great again. It's good to see Calhoun get in the backfield and have a sack. MSU coaches have previously called him one of the best pure pass-rushers they've ever had. He'll be replacing Will Gholston at defensive end and have to do better than Gholston in the TFL area. Dantonio said Waynes is looking really good, and will for years to come. (A reminder that Denicos Allen and Darqueze Dennard will miss all or some of spring with injuries)

MSU wants big plays and low turnovers on offense. There was just one turnover, so that's good to see.

Overall, some of the new starters on defense looked good, while the offense started slow, but had some good passing numbers at least. It's looking like this will have to be a pass-first offense. At least I hope it will be. MSU was better using the pass to set up the run last year, and there's no Le'Veon Bell in the backfield this year.

Here are some notable quotes from Dantonio:

"Overall, it was a good scrimmage. I don't know how we do it, but every time we scrimmage, it seems to come down to the last play, so that makes it exciting. I was pleased with the energy and intensity on both sides of the ball. The defense played well early and the offense played well down the stretch. The guys played hard and continued to compete during the 102-play scrimmage."

"Overall, our defense played extremely well throughout most of the scrimmage. We gave up a couple of big plays at the end of the game, and we simply can't do that. As we saw last year, we must learn to close out games. We will play better in those game-ending situations."

And from Maxwell:

"Obviously, we'd like to avoid the slow start that we had, but we didn't run it well and didn't throw it well early in the scrimmage. So we put ourselves in a hole early, but there's a reason we've placed an emphasis on finishing this spring. It's encouraging to finish the way we did today, especially in pressure situations like the 2-minute drills near the end."

"Trae Waynes has really been impressive this spring. Not only can he cover really well, but he's also very physical and plays the run well. A couple of times today, Trae made great tackles in the open field when he had to fend off a block. So we're looking for him to become a big playmaker for us this year."
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It's football season, people!

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