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Defense wins the second scrimmage at MSU camp

Associated Press • Aug 20, 2018 at 11:32 PM

EAST LANSING — Two scrimmages into fall camp, and Michigan State's defense is 2-0.

After winning the first scrimmage on Aug. 10, the defense repeated with another victory on Friday.

"It was a good scrimmage," Michigan State junior linebacker Joe Bachie said on Monday. "The defense came out with the win. Coach (Mark Dantonio) tried to make it close again like always, put us in certain situations, but the defense played good."

Bachie said he thought the final score was 40-37. Redshirt junior quarterback Brian Lewerke believes it went to overtime.

"It's hard to pay attention to who won because (Dantonio) is always going to make it tight at the end, and in regards to how the scrimmage goes, it's going to be who wins the last series," Michigan State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Tressel said. "(Dantonio) is going to have to make sure you win in the fourth."

Although who won and by what score aren't very important details from a fall scrimmage using a modified scoring system, execution is.

"It started slow, but once we started rolling we definitely started clicking on all cylinders," Lewerke said. "The receivers had a great day catching the ball. I think we ran the ball effectively, also. We all kind of came together really well."

Lewerke wasn't happy with the offense's performance in the first scrimmage and graded it a C-minus. He said the group stepped up to earn a B-plus or A-minus in the second scrimmage.

"I think we definitely improved on the stuff we needed to," Lewerke said. "I felt a lot more calm. I kind of just settled down a little bit and had fun with it and I think that made me play better and just our offense as a unit play better."

Tressel said redshirt freshman defensive end Jack Camper looks like an impact player at defensive end and fifth-year senior reserve safety Matt Morrissey is playing at an All-Big Ten level. He noted redshirt junior Josh Butler and redshirt freshman Shakur Brown both stood out in the scrimmages as Michigan State looks to replace starting cornerback Josiah Scott, who is out for about two months with an undisclosed injury.

"I think that our young guys stepped in and stepped up," senior safety Khari Willis said. "I think they got a lot of reps and they got a lot of experience. We made some mistakes as a team, which is going to happen, but I think all our mistakes were honest. People were playing at 100 miles per hour defensively. Offensively, I think guys are stepping up and making plays. The biggest thing I take away from it was it was close in scoring and it was competitive."

Michigan State's third and final scrimmage of fall camp is scheduled for Tuesday and Lewerke said the plan is to start at 10:45 p.m., which corresponds with Eastern time for the Spartans kickoff at Arizona State on Sept. 8 in the second game of the season. It will be an additional opportunity to prepare for the Aug. 31 season opener against Utah State in East Lansing and although Lewerke noted it likely won't be as much of a heavy workload for the starters, he expects to get another shot at improving the first-team offense.

"I should probably get 10, 20 plays or so," he said. "It shouldn't be a ton overall in the scrimmage, but I'll get a good amount."

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