Cousins, Green Team victorious in Spring Game
Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins put all his spring woes behind him in the MSU football team’s Spring Game on Saturday.
About a week ago – on April 21 – Cousins threw for only 140 yards and three interceptions in a 123-play “controlled” scrimmage, prompting him to make the comment that he “never plays well in scrimmages.”
However, it was Cousins’ 285-yard, three-touchdown performance that led the Green Team to a 24-10 win over the White Team at Spartan Stadium.
“It’s good to get out here in a game type setting to play well,” Cousins said. “But I got to credit our teammates, our play calling … It was a lot of fun, and that’s really the most important thing is to go out there and to enjoy it and to have fun playing the game of football.”
From the start it was evident Cousins was trying to give the fans the show they came to see. After both teams opened the game exchanging punts, Cousins found redshirt freshman wide receiver-cornerback hybrid Tony Lippett deep for a 57-yard gain.
The play left the Green Team on the four-yard line, and Cousins connected with junior tight end Dion Sims for the first touchdown of the day. Junior kicker Dan Conroy added the extra point and gave the Green Team a 7-0 lead.
It was a lead the Green Team would retain for the rest of the game, but sophomore quarterback Andrew Maxwell did his best to keep the game competitive.
Maxwell and sophomore running back Le’Veon Bell had the White Team charging down the field as the second quarter clock was ticking down. They took the ball all the way down to the six-yard line before the Green Team made a stand and forced their opponents to settle for a field goal.
At halftime the score was 7-3, but the Green Team received the ball to start the second half, and a screen pass from Cousins to senior wide receiver Chris D. Rucker resulted in a 39-yard gain.
Three plays later Cousins hit junior running back Larry Caper with a five-yard touchdown pass, his second of the day.
“The Green Team’s offense moved really well,” Maxwell said. “And I thought their defense did a good job putting pressure on me, and their secondary played well also.”
Maxwell struggled for most of the day, finishing 9-for-21 with 120 yards, and with senior wide receiver B.J. Cunningham unable to create space between himself and the cornerback, the White Team called on a bigger target.
Dressed in full pads and sporting the No. 83 on his jersey, senior forward Draymond Green, most known for his skill on the basketball court rather than the football field, trotted into the huddle.
But even the 6-foot-6 Green couldn’t create space with the Green Team’s first-round selection, junior cornerback Johnny Adams.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Maxwell’s team found the end zone. Senior wide receiver Keyshawn Martin created some space and Maxwell hit him for a 38-yard touchdown.
However, the Green Team quickly matched it with a field goal by Dan Conroy and a 42-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Sims.
“I feel bad because I feel like we played so much better football than what we showed out there today,” Maxwell said of the White Team. “I don’t feel like I did enough job executing and moving the ball. I don’t feel I put us in enough situations where we could be successful.”
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said although the game was aimed to entertain, it showed him some things about the team, especially about how fast his defense was.
“There’s a lot of guys coming back on our defense and a lot of young guys,” Dantonio said. “Last year in August our entire second group were either redshirt freshman or true freshman. So all those guys are a year older and they know what they’re doing now, and they’re playing with a much higher speed.”
Until the new season starts, the team will remember the crushing loss to Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. Although the Spartans acknowledge they’re not an “elite” team yet, Dantonio said they’re going in the right direction.
“I told the team we’ve climbed a mountain, we’re up on a level. There’s another mountain to climb once we got up there,” Dantonio said. “And I think our players understand that, they’re grasping that, they’re embracing that. They’re striving to get better every practice.”