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Quarterbacks impressive in scrimmage

April 4, 2003

With seven spring practices in the can, the MSU football team is finding itself knee-deep in sorting through head coach John L. Smith's new spread offense.

The Spartans held their first "controlled" scrimmage this week, a 75-play mock up of what the new Spartan offense can expect to look like as they open the season.

Smith said players have looked mechanical so far, but that's to be expected in adopting a new coaching system and playbook.

"We're still learning how to play hard every down and how to finish plays," Smith said in a statement. "We also need to play with more abandon on the defensive side of the ball.

"For the most part, the players followed their assignments but they're poor technicians. We have a long way to go in that area."

And with no projected starting quarterback emerging from the pack yet, all three quarterback hopefuls gave strong showings in support of their claim to start on Aug. 30 against Western Michigan.

Junior Damon Dowdell led the first-team to a touchdown on their first drive of the scrimmage, completing 4-of-9 passes for 70 yards - including a 27-yard touchdown strike to senior wide receiver Ziehl Kavanaght to cap the drive.

Redshirt freshman Drew Stanton impressed as well, connecting on 8-of-10 pass attempts and two touchdowns while leading the second-team offense. Stanton completed his first seven pass attempts, which included the two scores.

Senior Jeff Smoker also took snaps with the first team, hitting 7-of-9 passes for 54 yards. Smoker, who was dismissed from the team last season, cannot win the starting job outright this spring, according to Smith. Any determinations on Smoker's status on the team will not be made until August.

No D in Damon

In the midst of a bottle-necked quarterback situation, Smith has hypothesized that Dowdell could make a switch to the Spartans' depleted secondary.

Just don't tell Dowdell that.

"No," Dowdell flatly said to entertaining a position switch to defense. "I'm not that athletic."

Alexander's file

Redshirt freshman Aaron Alexander could likely have a new position next fall. Since Tuesday, he said he has been practicing at wide receiver, and he's optimistic about his new role.

"(The switch) wasn't a problem," Alexander said. "I feel like I can play anywhere on the field.

"I didn't want to play defense."

The Richmond, Va., native addressed his move from quarterback to wide receiver as well as his intent to hoop it up for men's basketball head coach Tom Izzo next season.

"I am, next year, I am," Alexander said of joining the basketball squad. He said a broken fifth metatarsal kept him sidelined from the hardcourt this past season.

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