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Thursday, November 27, 2014


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Standouts in spring scrimmage making waves for MSU football




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Junior quarterback Connor Cook takes a break during football practice April 8, 2014, at the practice field outside Duffy Daugherty Football Building. Julia Nagy/The State News



Certain players are starting to separate themselves from the pack as MSU's spring practice sessions roll along, specifically on the offensive side of the ball.

The offense was victorious last Friday in MSU football's first scrimmage of the spring, beating the defense 27-25 on a late touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Tyler O'Connor.

Although the score and stats from the scrimmage aren't as notable, head coach Mark Dantonio has used the game as a tool to see who has improved from last year. Here are a few of the standouts from Friday's first spring offense-defense scrimmage that count Dantonio’s eye.

Connor Cook and Tyler O'Connor, quarterbacks

Both junior Connor Cook and O'Connor looked good on Friday, leading the offense to the victory.

Cook finished 15-21 with 187 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while O'Connor was 10-15 with 132 yards and one touchdown.

Although Cook is the reigning Big Ten Championship Game and Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player, he still is looking to improve in certain areas, such as generating more big plays.

“I feel like a lot of stuff we had last year was thrown underneath and mid-range balls,” Cook said. “... I got to improve on my deep ball. I think if we can do that on a consistent basis, I think we will be very deadly.”

Cook is all but a lock for the starting spot, but O'Connor and redshirt freshman Damian Terry are still battling for the backup position. Dantonio didn't state who the backup is, but was impressed with O'Connor's play in the scrimmage.

"Tyler had a good day, I can't remember his stats but I thought he was sharp, (and) did some good things out there," Dantonio said. "I thought Damion Terry did some good things as well, but he's young."

DeAnthony Arnett, junior wide receiver

The junior from Saginaw, Mich., led all of the wide receivers with five catches for 67 yards, including a touchdown reception.

Despite struggling since transferring from Tennessee two years ago, Arnett was the first player mentioned by Dantonio when addressing the first scrimmage the other day. Dantonio cited Arnett’s toughness as the a large reason for his growth as of late.

Arnett second Dantonio’s thoughts, pointing to the additional 20 pounds in muscle he put on this offseason as a big factor in his early improvement.

“I’m starting to break tackles and stuff like that,” Arnett said. “(I’m) not feeling as much of those big hits like that so the extra 20 pounds helps.”

Jon Reschke, redshirt freshman linebacker

After sitting out last year as a redshirt freshman, Reschke is playing his way into seeing a heighten role this upcoming season. Currently starting at middle linebacker because senior linebacker Taiwan Jones has been banged up, Dantonio was pleased with his performance on Friday.

"Reschke has had some good performances, is probably number one at linebacker," Dantonio said. "... I thought he played fast with a lot of energy, and it was good to see."

Dantonio also said redshirt freshman Shane Jones and sophomore Riley Bullough have been solid at middle linebacker in Taiwan's absence.


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