What three things mattered in the Michigan State spring football game and what to take away from the scrimmage.
Tyler O’Connor is the Michigan State starting quarterback, unless …
It’s Damion Terry.
Terry didn’t push the ball deep and went more horizontal in his okay day, but he was all over the place at times and needs to fine-tune the gun. Even with the issues, he’s still going to get every chance this fall to take over Connor Cook’s starting quarterback job. He has a nice arm, decent poise, and runs well. But Tyler O’Connor is better.
O’Connor was running well in the spring game – granted, he wasn’t getting touched – and he was tough enough and sharp enough to look the part of a guy ready to take over and star. The Spartan offense hardly turned it loose, but when it came out throwing a bit and O’Connor was more effective, highlighted by a second half touchdown drive with two nice throws and a big run on the way to the score.
But there wasn’t anything about the game that absolutely settled the deal. If the season started right now, O’Connor would get the call, but Terry didn’t bow out. If nothing else, the quarterback situation – forget about the other two options, Brian Lewerke and Messiah deWeaver for now – isn’t bad, and it’s hardly a concern.
The program is acting like it’s big-time – which, of course, it is
Don’t get hung up on crowd-measuring – it doesn’t mean there isn’t a buzz just because you don’t crank out 100,000 to your spring game.
51,000 Green and White souls showed up to watch a final spring scrimmage that had a little more pop than most. Mark Dantonio did his best to fire up the crowd and include it in goal line situations and to ramp up the noise when needed, but mostly, this was a real, live scrimmage at times.
The Spartans have a ton of work to do on both sides of the ball with eight starters gone on offense and six done on D. There might not have been full blown popping and the physical style the O will show with the running game when it all starts up, but it was more physical than most games that are mostly exhibitions.
Dantonio doesn’t really do frivolous. It’s not his nature to goof around or have a ton of fun with something like this, and while it might seem overblown, the team needed this practice. This is a big year for a rebuilding team that could easily slip into fourth in its own division, and it practiced like a team that needs to show the coaching staff what it can do.
And the new star is …
Big Ten, welcome to Donnie Corley.
The star recruit turned heads all throughout spring ball as the new playmaking receiver with the speed and maturity to his game to make him a possible starter right out of the gate. Very quick and electric whenever he gets the ball in his hands, and he’s got the 6-3, 190-pound frame to grow into a No. 1 target early on. Now all he needs is more time, more seasoning, and more reps, but so far, the Spartan secondary hasn’t figured out how to keep him contained.
He could be used on special teams as a returner, he’s seeing time at corner, and he’s getting the ball in his hands in a variety of ways. And the scary part is that he’s just figuring it all out.
There’s a reason he was the first wide receiver picked in the spring game draft. Get ready for the buzz to get louder and louder over the next few months – he’s exactly the type of young wide receiver difference-maker the team needs.