When the MSU football team put their helmets on for the first time of the spring practice season Tuesday afternoon, it reminded Mike Sadler of a feeling he had in 2010.
“The biggest thing coming out of winter conditioning is there’s a lot of chemistry here,” Sadler said. “That can go a long way. We can be off a little bit come football (season), and chemistry can make up for that.”
That 2010 squad finished the season, 11-2, with a share of the Big Ten title.
After finishing last season 7-6, Sadler said the team wasn’t expecting the results they had, but they still have dreams of playing in the Rose Bowl.
“The same goals are there, we just have to go out and work a little harder to get them,” the senior punter said. “I don’t want to say complacency had set in, but I think expectations — we just thought it would go a little easier than it did.”
Senior linebacker Max Bullough spent the winter looking at stats, noting what they were successful at and what the defense needs to improve on.
A captain from a season ago, Bullough said one key to the Spartans’ success will be finding a good crop of leaders, and he thinks good ones will step up.
“There’s got to be leaders in every room and every position and in every grade,” Bullough said.
“That’s what guys will be more comfortable with this offseason and heading into this fall.”
With many starting spots up for grabs, the first day of spring practice saw many young players step to the plate, and the quarterback battle between senior Andrew Maxwell, sophomore Connor Cook and redshirt freshman Tyler O’Connor was at the at the forefront.
When doing drills, Maxwell led, followed closely by Cook and then O’Connor. All
three took snaps with each center.
But it wasn’t just the quarterbacks who made an impact.
Many young defensive backs will get opportunities to play this spring, with senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard out for the spring with an injury and Johnny Adams leaving for the NFL Draft.
Senior safety Isaiah Lewis said it might be early, but cornerbacks, such as redshirt freshman Ezra Robinson and sophomore Arjen Colquhoun, are giving it everything they’ve got.
“They have a lot of energy,” Lewis said. “They don’t quite have the mental part yet because they’re young guys. They’re out there competing and trying to make plays, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Sophomore cornerback Trae Waynes got some playing time in MSU’s bowl victory at the end of last season and got quite a few reps in the first practice of the spring.
Lewis agrees with Sadler that the bonds on this team rival that of the 2010 team, and said the goals once again are set high.
“We still got team chemistry and guys are hungry out there now,” Lewis said. “I want to finish my season out on top, I want to finish my season going to the Rose Bowl. That’s what I’m going to do, and we got guys just as well as me, other seniors like that, that are willing to do the same thing.”