Michigan State second-year coach Mel Tucker liked what he saw over the weekend during his team’s first spring scrimmage , an opportunity to see what he’s working with in game-like situations ahead of the 2021 campaign. Tucker’s Spartans went 2-5 last fall, highlighted by wins over nationally-ranked Michigan and Northwestern.
"I thought it was a very competitive and physical scrimmage, all the way from start to finish,” Tucker said, via Saturday Tradition . “When you scrimmage, you have more plays in a row than you would in a normal practice. I wanted to see guys play harder for longer, and I saw that. I saw guys really straining and competing on both sides of the ball. We have really emphasized, up until this point, just becoming better with out technique and fundamentals, and I see us playing with better pad level, hand placement and footwork, and guys playing with more power and are being more physical."
Tucker has preached physicality this spring, especially in the run game where he wants Michigan State to be dominant at the point of attack.
"I liked what I saw in the run game, on both sides of the ball,” Tucker said. “We ran the ball quite a bit, and I thought our line really worked to get movement and sustain blocks, even on the second level. On defense, I saw guys really trying to shed blockers and in the secondary, guys were coming up and fitting in the run game."
The scrimmage also gave Tucker a chance to see his quarterbacks in action, primarily Temple graduate transfer Anthony Russo and Payton Thorne. Russo played 31 games for the Owls over the past four seasons, including 26 starts.
Tucker hasn’t named a QB1 just yet, but is expected to establish the depth chart this month.
"All of the quarterbacks got in some work,” Tucker said. “I felt like they knew what to do and they all made good decisions. They showed a willingness to take what the defense was giving them.
"Overall, the communication was better and guys are playing with more confidence. There was a real competitive feel out there and there was a conscious effort to be physical. I didn't see anyone backing down and everyone was playing through the whistle. Guys are competing for jobs, but at the same time, it's a healthy competition and they are working together as a team."
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