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Annual Green-White game on Saturday

April 23, 2004
MSU senior linebacker Ronald Stanley, left, blocks during a drill at football practice April 13 at the Duffy Daugherty Football Building.

Fans suffering from MSU football withdrawal can get their fix Saturday when the team plays their annual Green-White Spring Scrimmage at 1 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.

Admission to the intrasquad game is free, and players will sign autographs on the field after the game.

With little depth on the Spartans' roster due to players graduating and the awaited arrival of the 2004 recruiting class, head coach John L. Smith has opted to play the first string offense against the first string defense, the second teams against each other and so on.

"To get anything done that's what we have to do, because the depth is not there that we can split it up and do anything other than that, and really get anything out of it," Smith said. "At least with ones on ones and twos on twos you get some good work done."

Heading into the fall, the Spartans have plenty of questions. MSU will have a new starting quarterback and the two top rushers from last season, Jaren Hayes and Tyrell Dortch, could start on defense at the bandit and cornerback positions.

"I'm very impressed with Dortch, I'm very impressed with Hayes," Smith said. "(With) both those guys I like what I see and they are going to probably end up staying there and starting where they're at."

The front-runners for starting quarterback are redshirt freshman Stephen Reaves and sophomore Drew Stanton. Stanton still is recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the Alamo Bowl and won't play.

"He's doing good," Smith said of Stanton. "I think he's way ahead of schedule. I think if you talk to the doctors and the trainers they will tell you that he's ahead of schedule. And I think he's done a great job of healing himself."

Reaves will get his first chance to make an impression Saturday and his teammates say it will be a good one. Junior wide receiver Aaron Alexander said the former scout-team quarterback, who stands 6-feet-1, has shown a surprisingly strong arm.

"For everybody that hasn't seen him, they're going to be in for a little shock to see a guy with his size with such a strong arm," he said.

Having new faces early in the depth chart has been a challenge for the Spartans. Throughout the spring, Smith has burdened his players with a lion's share of new plays and schemes, and he admits that it has been a lot for his youthful squad to soak up. But Smith also is impressed with where his team is going, especially defensively, and his goal Saturday is to gain his team's confidence.

"I would like to see the offense come out and take care of the football," Smith said. "I think from their standpoint they need to have some success in taking the football up and down the field. Just from a standpoint of finishing up spring ball with a positive self-image."

"The defense - those guys are going to get after them. To a degree, they dominated some of the practices, so I don't think it's as important for them, so I would like to see the offense do that."

For the players, it's just another game in their spring schedule, but it's also exciting to play in front of their fans and family.

"I'm pretty excited. My mom, dad, cousins, brother and friends are coming up here," senior tight end Jason Randall said. "It's just a scrimmage, but it is still exciting though."

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