Spartan football team gets to work on 2009 season

Published 8:27 am Monday, August 10, 2009

EAST LANSING – Third-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio welcomed members of the 2009 team back to campus for physicals, compliance and academic meetings, and a media workshop on Sunday, as the Spartans opened preseason football camp.

The first preseason practice is scheduled for today at 3:30 p.m.

Following a 6 a.m. wake-up call Monday, the players will report to the Duffy Daugherty Football Building indoor facility for a series of running tests.

“The first thing the players have to do tomorrow is pass the running (Bottom Line) test,” Dantonio said. “(Head strength and conditioning coach) Ken Mannie and his staff have done a great job managing the summer conditioning workouts, but most importantly, the players have bought into the program. So the guys have trained throughout the summer for this test. It’s a demanding exercise, so we’re anxious to see where the players are at from a conditioning standpoint.”

Over the next five days, the Spartans will practice in shorts for two days and shells for two days before donning full pads for the first time on Friday, Aug. 14.

“This week, we’ll install our base offense and defense,” Dantonio said. “The guys haven’t participated in organized workouts for three months, so they will have to become reconditioned to playing the game of football. Later this week, they’ll also have to adjust to carrying their pads again.

“The biggest thing that they’ll learn this week is how to operate as a team. They’ll learn the snap count, how to execute with precision and the importance of paying attention to detail. Those items will be our focus during this first week of preseason camp.”

As preseason camp opens, all eyes are focused on the position battles at quarterback and running back. Gone are Brian Hoyer, who compiled a 16-11 record in 27 career starts at quarterback, and consensus All-American Javon Ringer, who rushed for 1,637 yards and a school-record 22 touchdowns in 2008.

Michigan State ranked No. 27 in the preseason USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll, just 29 points shy of cracking the Top 25.

“With 18 starters returning, the expectations are high for the upcoming season, and it takes a certain maturity level to manage those aspirations,” Dantonio said. “For this team to meet those expectations, our seniors must have the best seasons of their careers. Look back at the 2007 and 2008 seasons, those teams had success because the seniors consistently performed at a high level. This year will be no exception, as our seniors will ultimately determine if this team will become a contender for the Big Ten championship.”

Michigan State’s 2009 season and home opener, Sept. 5 against Montana State, will be televised by the Big Ten Network, with kickoff set for 12 p.m.