With 2018 offense mostly set, spring game showcases future
Head coach Mark Dantonio and the 2018 Spartans gave a sneak peak on the possible starters in the annual spring game showcasing the future of this team.
Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke said redshirt freshman quarterback Rocky Lombardi and freshman quarterback Theo Day are increasingly getting to know offense and growing in the process in this year’s spring game.
“I think they’ve both grown very well in knowing the offense,” Lewerke said. “I think they are both natural leaders, too. Rocky is a guy that people can respect and look up to, even for his young age.”
Sophomore running back Connor Heyward said he feels he has put in a lot of reps coming into the game, and has received help from senior running back LJ Scott.
“It’s definitely been a lot, but I think it helps also because I’ve been getting help from preparing for today,” Heyward said. “Obviously LJ, he has played a lot in his career and we need all those reps, but I think it helped me tremendously and it helped LJ I think too, but it keeps us in shape a little bit more."
During the scrimmage, Heyward carried the ball 11 times for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Dantonio said Heyward is a versatile player who can go outside of the running back position. Heyward played several different positions throughout his high school career, which could help him move up the depth chart.
“He really can play a lot of positions for us,” Dantonio said. “He can play on the defensive side of the ball, outside back probably. He does a lot of different things in the back field for us. I feel good about that position”
Fifteen players sat out for the scrimmage, one of them being junior offensive tackle Cole Chewins. Dantonio said his team was able to work with the other five guys in there as assistant head coach and offensive line coach Mark Staten had them playing different positions.
One question for the scrimmage was who would line up at center with Brian Allen graduating and moving on to trying to get drafted into the NFL. For most of the first team reps, it was his little brother, sophomore Matt Allen.
"That's still a guy I'm still learning how he works ... But I think he did a great job," Lewerke said.
Lewerke credits Matt Allen in earning his reps, but said feels he needs to understand the way he works to help improve their chemistry together on the field.
As for Day and Lombardi, Dantonio said this scrimmage was not to showcase their pass skill situation, but that they can play a higher level of football.
“For the other two guys, they had some great moments and had some other moments that were tough,” Dantonio said. “It’s the first time Theo Day had an opportunity, and really Brian had an opportunity to play in the spring game. I thought Rocky played pretty well as the game progressed on.”
Heading out of the the scrimmage, Lombardi said he feels he still needs to work on hitting the guy who is the most open on the field and showing off his running skill the way he did with Heyward later in the scrimmage, when Heyward hit Lombardi for two-point conversion pass.
One of the things Lombardi said he's improved on is his confidence in the team now that he is able to connect and create chemistry with more of his teammates.
“I think I just got a little bit more comfortable,” Lombardi said. “Sometimes it’s just how things go, you know? Sometimes you play a little better in the beginning, play a little better in the end.”
Day made his unofficial Spartan debut for the team and made more appearances in the second half of the scrimmage. He said he felt nervous at first with a larger crowd than what he is used to, but was able to make more progress throughout the game.
Overall, he said he feels he's done some good things these past few spring practices and looks forward to the upcoming season to continue to improve in his career.
“I think I did well this spring,” Day said. “I think I made good decisions. I threw the ball pretty well, but you know, one of my biggest things is getting the ball out quick especially when the heat is coming. … That’s definitely something I want to work on going into the summer and fall.”