EAST LANSING, Mich. – First-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio sent his team through a two-hour, indoor workout in full pads on Saturday, Dec. 8 as the Spartans continue preparation for the Dec. 28 Champs Sports Bowl against No. 14/14 Boston College (10-3).
"We’ve got a lot of work to do before heading to Orlando," Dantonio said. "We had a good, tough practice on Saturday. The guys continue to work hard every day in practice. As a team, we continue to work toward gaining respect."
To help prepare his team for the upcoming trip to Orlando, Fla., Coach Dantonio had the thermostat in the indoor practice facility set at 82 degrees, resulting in humidity near 30 percent.
"We’re trying to simulate the current environment in Orlando and prepare the players for higher temperatures and humidity," Dantonio said. "We can’t re-create ideal weather conditions, but we can maintain an up-tempo practice pace and do additional post-practice running for conditioning purposes."
Since practice resumed two weeks ago, an emphasis has been placed upon getting extra reps for first-year players.
"Quite a few of our freshmen have been getting reps with the twos and threes," Dantonio said. "Guys like (wide receiver) B.J. Cunningham, (quarterback) Kirk Cousins and (running back) Ashton Leggett have taken positive steps and shown improvement. Those guys, who spent the entire fall working with the scout team, are now getting much-needed reps."
"Through these last six practices, our focus has been on getting the young guys a lot of reps," MSU offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Don Treadwell said. "We’ve been challenging them, and they’re having a lot of fun. For the guys who spent the majority of the year working with the scout team, it’s their opportunity to step up and let us know what we can expect from them in the future."
Michigan State concluded its regular-season three weeks ago, with a 35-31 victory over Penn State. With the layoff, Treadwell says these early bowl practices have been important in terms of shaking the rust off.
"These last six practices have been important from a timing standpoint, especially for the skill-position players," Treadwell said. "We’ve been able to work on proper alignment, route running, timing of the throws from the quarterback, as well as the receivers getting their heads around to find the football. Trust me, after the long layoff, the timing has come a long way over the last two weeks. It’s like comparing night and day in terms of the execution."
Following Saturday’s workout, Coach Dantonio has scheduled three consecutive off days.
"We’re going to give the guys a couple of days off to prepare for final exams. It’s important that our guys finish in the classroom just like we expect them to finish on the practice field. We expect our guys to represent well in the classroom and put their best foot forward during finals.
"By mid-week, our focus shifts to preparing for Boston College."
When the Spartans resume bowl preparation on Wednesday, Dec. 12, the practice calendar will resemble preseason camp as the team will alternate single and double sessions through Saturday, Dec. 15. After taking off Sunday, Dec. 16, Michigan State has another two-a-day scheduled for Monday, Dec. 17 before closing out on-campus workouts with single practices on Tuesday, Dec. 18 and Wednesday, Dec. 19.
The players are scheduled to report to Orlando on Saturday, Dec. 22.