April 14, 2013

News & Clues from Jersey Scrimmage II

EAST LANSING - Media were not allowed to watch Saturday's closed Jersey Scrimmage on Saturday. Scanning through the university's press release from the scrimmage, and working with some background knowledge, here are our takeaways from the day:

1. The Riley Bullough experiment at running back gained some traction.

2. Andrew Maxwell continued by what all accounts has been a solid spring with perhaps the best scrimmage of his career.

3. Place kicking reps sounded positive, for what it's worth.

4. The defense failed to secure victory in the final minute, repeating a flaw which contributed to losses against Northwestern, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State last year.

5. Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett, A.J. Troup and DeAnthony Arnett posted the most catches.

The Numbers

The offense defeated the defense, 28-26, as junior tailback Nick Hill capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 7-yard TD run with just over a minute remaining in the "situational" scrimmage that utilized a modified scoring system.
Passing: Andrew Maxwell 14-of-18 for 130 yards and one touchdown (12 yards to AJ Troup); Connor Cook 4-of-11 for 66 yards; Tyler O'Connor 3-of-9 for 29 yards.

Rushing: Riley Bullough 11-43 (2 TDs); Nick Hill 12-33 (1 TD)

Receiving: Bennie Fowler 4-67; AJ Troup 3-31 (1 TD); Tony Lippett 3-30; DeAnthony Arnett 3-29.

Defense (solos-assists-total): Kurtis Drummond 3-4-7; RJ Williamson 2-5-7; Jairus Jones 1-6-7; Joel Heath 6-1-7 including a 4-yard sack and a quarterback hurry; Taiwan Jones 1-5-6; Kyler Elsworth 2-3-5 and one quarterback hurry;Max Bullough 1-4-5 and one quarterback hurry; Denzel Drone 1-2-3 including a 6-yard tackle for loss and a forced fumble.

More On Bullough

Michigan State moved Bullough to running back on Tuesday as an experiment, based on his eye-opening contributions as a tailback on the scout team last fall. Coaches liked what they saw from him on Tuesday and Friday in non-physical drills. Saturday was a bigger test, with snap after snap of 11 vs. 11 physicality. By all accounts, he continued to impress.

Bullough had a pair of 1-yard TD runs on Saturday, including a fourth-and-goal conversion. He averaged 4.5 yards on his other nine carries.

Mark Dantonio needs a physical tailback option. He wanted to give Bullough a look. I suspect that Bullough has played even better this week than anticipated.

"I thought putting Riley Bullough at tailback complemented the other guys, Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford," Dantonio said. "The offense played better and we ran the ball a little bit more effectively."

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