Green Rallies To WIn MSU Spring Game 23-21

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- When Devin Thomas chose the NFL over a senior year at Michigan State, no one knew he'd be seen as a top-15 draft pick -- or that the Spartans could be fine at wide receiver with a Devin-by-committee concept.
Four underclassmen combined for 19 catches, 393 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday's spring game, a 23-21 win for the Green team. With more help coming from heralded recruits, senior quarterback Brian Hoyer is happy for Thomas but not the least bit worried.
"If you'd seen Devin a year ago, you wouldn't be asking that question," Hoyer said after throwing for 208 yards and three scores for the White team. "Mark Dell, B.J. Cunningham and Chris D. Rucker all showed what they can do. And Blair White did a great job, too. A lot of people underestimate him."
Dell, a sophomore-to-be with eight starts in 2007, had six receptions for 120 yards for the Green team.
Cunningham, a redshirt freshman, had six catches for 97 yards, including a 43-yard TD from Hoyer.
Rucker, another redshirt freshman, had three grabs for 90 yards, including 55- and 29-yard scores.
And White, a junior, snared four balls for 86 yards, including a 19-yard TD and a 58-yarder from backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, also a redshirt freshman.
That last completion set up Matt Haughey's third field goal, a 30-yarder for the win with :30 left on a near-perfect day.
"I definitely feel we're ready to make plays," Dell said. "This offense can score a lot of points. We look forward to taking over for Devin and proving people wrong."
"Our receivers were killing out there today," Cunningham said. "Devin Thomas was a big loss. We know that. But we have some guys ready to fill his shoes."
The fastest feet on the team, those of senior running back Javon Ringer, weren't on display Saturday. Ringer, the nation's top returning rusher on some lists, was held out of action after gaining 1,447 yards and 5.9 per carry last year for the Spartans (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten).
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio wouldn't name a backup for Ringer, with junior A.J. Jimmerson and redshirt-freshman Andre Anderson still battling. He also stopped short of comparing Cousins, 12-for-19 for 196 yards and a TD, with linebacker-sized sophomore Nick Foles, 10-for-15 for 102 yards while directing both teams.
"We had pretty good execution from all three quarterbacks," Dantonio said. "We caught the ball in traffic very well and had a limited number of turnovers. It came down to a competitive situation at the end, and that's what you like to see."
After the senior leaders drafted the teams on Tuesday, the good-natured ribbing and steaks-or-hot dogs dinner seemed to add to the intensity, as if a battle for starting jobs and playing time wasn't enough.
"There's a lot of competition on this team," three-position linebacker Greg Jones said four months after being named a Freshman All-American. "The young guys are all getting better. I can't begin to tell you how much better I feel than I did when I got here. That's true for a lot of guys."
Senior safety Otis Wiley said his goal going into the game was to intercept one of Hoyer's passes and seal a win for the Green team. That's exactly what he did with a pick and a 50-yard runback in the closing seconds.
"I have no questions at all about our secondary," Wiley said after the offense's big day. "Hoyer put the ball in perfect places, and the wide receivers all caught it. I know how good this defense can be. You'll see for yourself this fall."
Michigan State will begin play at California on Aug. 31, then host Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic and Notre Dame on the first three Saturdays in September.
Trips to Indiana and Northwestern, sandwiching a visit from Iowa, will start Big Ten play. The challenge is in the last five tests: Ohio State, at Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue and at Penn State. The Spartans won't face Illinois or Minnesota.
"We have to solidify the offensive line, get steady production from the wideouts and continue to grow with our backup quarterbacks," Dantonio said. "We're trying to lay a foundation here. August is right around the corner, and we'll assess all that as we get there."
An estimated crowd of 27,000 seemed to like what it saw. Most walked away dry. But Green team honorary coach Tom Izzo, a basketball leader with a football dream, got a win and a bucket of water over his head.
"That was really great, wasn't it?" Izzo said. "Ringer and Deon Curry got me pretty good."
"It was important for our guys," Dantonio said of the game-like conditions. "When you go out to practice, you have to have a goal in mind. We're always going to try to make it competitive. This was real. It wasn't a phony little scrimmage game."


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