Extrapolate at your own risk. That's always been my thought concerning Spring football in general, especially when the only look most Spartan fans will have this year is two teams composed of a mix of the first and second string. With that concern in mind, here are my thoughts:
Green won by two touchdowns, and much of that differential can be attributed to the difference in play between Kirk Cousins and Andrew Maxwell yesterday. While Maxwell's numbers were superior to Cousins's in the previous two scrimmages, Cousins put on a show yesterday. He hit Tony Lippett (more on him later) in stride for the first big play of the game. He hit Keith Nichol and Chris Rucker (now that Chris L. Rucker has been drafted, we can retire the middle initials. Rest in peace bros.) for consecutive double-digit gains. He hit Dion Sims on a screen and got out of the way while he rumbled 42 yards for a touchdown. Most of all he was accurate, efficient, and let there be no doubt who the starter is. Maxwell had a sub-par game (9-21 for 120 yards and a touchdown), but his performance in the last scrimmage leads me to believe that his spring game showing will be more of an aberration than the norm.
One spot where the White team did have an advantage was in the running game. The advantage was formed from two parts Le'Veon Bell (46 yards on eight rushes, making him the leading rusher for the game), and one part Keshawn Martin from the wildcat (26 yards on five runs). The Green team's running wasn't quite up to snuff, as Edwin Baker led the way with 14 yards on five runs. Like I said, make predictions from Spring football games at their own risk, and much of that risk comes from the offensive line play -- you have linemen from all areas of the depth chart playing next to one another, bringing a lack of cohesiveness that might not exist in the fall.
While the offensive line play was sub-par due in part to the game's structure, the defensive line took its first step towards being one of the stronger units on the team. Jerel Worthy (projected to go 8TH in SB Nation's 2012 mock draft) had three tackles with one for a loss and a forced fumble, while William Gholston had one of the defensive plays of the game in the fourth when he stripped Andrew Maxwell and recovered the fumble. He moved the Green team back 15 yards when he threw the ball in the air after the fumble, but if someone tells you he has some form of character problems because of this play, feel free to roll your eyes as hard as you possibly can.
The back seven on both teams -- good gravy they were hitting hard. Mitchell White, TyQuan Hammock, and Isaiah Lewis all administered (looks up synonym for slobberknocker...) brutal hits at some point in the contest which seemed out of place in a spring contest. The corners looked good, especially Johnny Adams, who has the chance to be the best corner at MSU since...God only knows, help me out commenters. Tony Lippett looked good at corner as well, playing tight man-to-man coverage on B.J. Cunningham , but his one miscue allowed Keshawn Martin to make enough space to catch a 38-yard touchdown pass from Maxwell. In fairness though, I bet at least three-quarters of the corners in the Big Ten wouldn't have been able to stop Martin on that play. In short, I can see why the coaches are excited about Lippett -- he's essentially Keshawn Martin but taller, with cornerback ability substituted for Martin's QB skills.
In short, a good time was had by all, and since no one was seriously hurt we can call the game an unqualified success. It's a long, long way until the Spartans play again on September 3, but as long as we have each other, I think we can make it.
Other random thoughts:
- Draymond Green! The Dancing Bear provided the comic relief for the day as he appeared open from the tight end spot on one play, massively false started on the next, and drew a holding penalty from Johnny Adams on his last play. I laughed, and I understand the criticism of Green playing because of the chance of injury. I didn't mind however. Part of the fun of college sports is enjoying the connection between all the teams; they don't exist in vacuums like pro sports teams often do, and having Draymond interact with the football team (and show how hard it is to hop in on offense and be effective) made it that much more fun, and a big reason why I follow college sports much more than I do pro sports.
- The kicking game still showed no cause for concern, as Dan Conroy and Kevin Muma were both accurate to a T. They still need a little more distance on their kickoffs, but I'm still not convinced it's as big as a deal as many people say it is; I think hang time is as important to give a chance for the coverage team to get down the field. At punter, it's Mike Sadler's job to lose. He looked much more impressive than walk-on Kyle Selden, but both punters need to work on keeping the ball out of the end zone.
- Missed on Sims's 42-yard touchdown the first time I saw it -- the nice block by Keith Nichol around the 30 to ensure Sims made it to the end zone.
- I don't know where, but TyQuan Hammock will find his way into the two-deep somehow.
- Ditto Tony Lippett.
- There was a near-standing ovation for Arthur Ray when he entered the field for the first time. Considering how one of the alternatives to this is "may not have lived to see 2010", every bit of it is deserved.
- Memo to the man ten seats to the right of me -- IT IS GENERALLY CONSIDERED IMPOLITE TO BE ON YOUR CELL PHONE DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. IF JIM LEYLAND CAN STOP YELLING AT AN UMPIRE FOR A MINUTE TO HONOR OUR COUNTRY, SURELY YOU CAN HANG UP. Please and thank you.
- Kirk Cousins looked thoroughly angry when he had to call a timeout and yelled "GET THE PLAY IN!" This was in the fourth quarter with thirty seconds left, with his team up by two touchdowns. I don't know how you measure intangibles, but Cousins definitely has all of them. ALL OF THE INTANGIBLES? All of the intangibles.
- Anything that you have to add that I surely forgot.