August 18, 2012

Maxwell 'extremely sharp' in Jersey Scrimmage

EAST LANSING - Quarterback Andrew Maxwell and tight end Dion Sims turned in strong performances in leading the offense to a 52-48 victory over the defense in the final Jersey Scrimmage of August camp, Saturday at Spartan Stadium, according to reports released by the university.

Maxwell completed 13-of-24 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown, while Sims had 10 receptions for 171 yards and a 12-yard TD grab.

"Andrew Maxwell and Dion Sims really impressed today," said head coach Mark Dantonio. "They connected for some exciting plays. Andrew looked extremely sharp and made some great throws. Dion is a big-play receiver, and he was very consistent today."

Maxwell is ramping up for his first year as the starting QB at Michigan State. Sims, once seen as a star-on-the-rise, is in comeback mode after being hampered for more than half of last fall and all of the spring with a wrist injury.

"Dion Sims is a key figure in our offense," Maxwell said. "When healthy, Dion can be a weapon for us. We've tried to get him the ball more during preseason camp. He can be a big factor in our offense because he can make plays down the field or take a short, dump pass, break a tackle and run after the catch."

"Other guys made plays too," Dantonio said. "We held Le'Veon Bell out, but Larry Caper and Nick Hill both made some guys miss and got vertical. Their yards per carry might not look great, but I really liked the way they ran with toughness."

Caper rushed for 49 yards on 18 carries, including a 1-yard TD. Hill rushed for 35 yards.

With the offense leading by a point, Maxwell engineered a scrimmage-winning drive as the first-string offense battled against the first-string defense.

Maxwell went 3-of-4 through the air for 46 yards on a 7-play, 51-yard drive which set up a Dan Conroy 29-yard field goal on the final play of the afternoon, cementing a 52-48 victory for the offense. Maxwell connected on a 23-yard pass to Bennie Fowler and an 18-yarder to Sims on the drive.

"You can't ask for a closer scrimmage because the outcome came down to the final two-minute drive," Dantonio said. "The offense had to convert a third-and-10 to keep that final drive alive and set up the field goal on the final play."

Sophomore WR DeAnthony Arnett had three catches for 63 yards and WR Bennie Fowler had three catches for 35 yards. Freshman WR Kyle Kerrick had three catches for 63 yards, presumably with the third string.

"The guys played with great emotion on both sides of the football," Dantonio said. "The defense started fast, but the offense closed well. We played a lot of guys today, especially on defense. We're so deep that we were able to hold some guys out and limit some other guys' reps, and that's a good sign.

"There were a lot of positives because guys made plays on both side of the football and they all played fast. It was a competitive scrimmage, so I didn't have to tweak the scoring and it helps build excitement."

Back-up QB Connor Cook was 12-of-27 for 145 yards with 1 TD, a 7-yarder to WR Macgarrett Kings. Cook also threw two interceptions.

True freshman QB Tyler O'Connor was 6-of-11 through the air for 70 yards.

Red-shirt freshman cornerback Arjen Colquhoun, freshman linebacker Jamal Lyles and junior linebacker TyQuan Hammock each collected a team-high seven tackles.

Colquhoun is competing with Trae Waynes and true freshman Ezra Robinson for the last second-string slot at cornerback. Colquhoun has been complimented by coaches for coming on strong in the last week to 10 days, and continued his hot stretch with a productive scrimmage. Robinson had five tackles including a team-best three TFLs, including a 7-yard sack.

First-string cornerback Darqueze Dennard tallied six tackles and two pass break-ups.

The defense, which won the first scrimmage last Sunday, 74-54, picked up right where it left off by jumping out to an 11-1 lead after only allowing one first down in the first four series, capped by a Mitchell White blocked field goal.

Other play-by-play info released by the university:

The offense took a 21-14 lead following a 12-play, 68-yard drive that was finished by a 1-yard Caper touchdown run. Maxwell was 4-of-5 passing for 34 yards on the drive, and an 18-yard run by Hill to the 1-yard line set up Caper's score.

Two quick turnovers put the defense back on top, 24-21, as Max Bullough recovered a fumble and Tyler Hoover picked off a Connor Cook pass on a deflection.

The offense regained the lead, 29-26, following a Dan Conroy 21-yard field goal that capped an 11-play, 56-yard drive. A 30-yard completion from Maxwell to Sims on third-and-10 from the offense's 40-yard line jumpstarted the drive, which also featured 26 rushing yards from Caper.

Following the field goal, the defense posted two-straight series stops, including an interception by Mitchell White, to reclaim a 32-28 advantage. Cook threw the interception.

The offense momentarily regained the lead at 34-33 after a 71-yard completion from Maxwell to Sims, but the defense didn't allow a first down over the next three series to go up 45-34, as each drive was stalled on a pass break-up. Overall, the defense collected eight pass break-ups, led by two from Dennard.

Trailing by 11 points, the offense rallied by taking advantage of its opportunities in the red zone portion of the scripted scrimmage, converting two-straight short-field possessions for touchdowns. On first-and-goal, a scrambling Cook found Kings in the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown. Maxwell hit Sims for a 12-yard TD three plays later to take a 49-45 lead.

The defense trimmed the lead to one point at 49-48 after forcing four consecutive incompletions from Cook, setting up the scrimmage's final drive.

"We're still in camp mode next week, so we'll focus on the task at hand while looking forward a little," Dantonio said. "Some guys need to transition into becoming scout team players while understanding their role is just as important as being a first- or second-team guy. We also need to expose our first-year players to what the game-week practices look like, so they can become acclimated. It's also important that our players get their legs back underneath them, so we'll begin to tail things off toward the end of the week. The start of classes is just around the corner, so their schedules will change dramatically very soon.

"As pleased as I am with the way the scrimmage went, I'm equally excited about the new video boards in Spartan Stadium," Dantonio said. "Those video boards are cutting edge and add a whole new dimension to the stadium experience. These high-def video boards bring the action right to you - it's almost an interactive environment. It's going to be exciting for our fans and players alike. I congratulate our AD (Athletics Director Mark Hollis) and the entire marketing staff on a job well done."




 

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