Michigan State Notebook

By Adam Caparell - April 16, 2007

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State's offense figures to get the majority of the attention as spring practice winds down and the summer brings training camp. But quarterback Brian Hoyer really likes what he's seen out of the defense in April.

"The defense has stood out to me," Hoyer said. "They're out there, making plays, flying around. I think they're new defensive schemes stood out to me. There's people coming from everywhere, people flying around everywhere. Sometimes it makes it hard on me to see what they're trying to do which is good because they're disguising things well and they're all playing really well right now."

You could argue the defense is ahead of the offense in terms of grasping the new schemes implemented by coach Mark Dantonio, but it all depends on who you ask.

"It's back and forth. One day the offense is going to get it, one day the defense is going to get it," safety Otis Wiley said. "I don't think there's been two practices (in a row) where the offense has got us."

DE Ervin Baldwin seems to think the defense has come along faster this spring.

"The defense always learns the schemes faster," Baldwin said. "And it's always easier to learn the defense than the offense."

Tradition Never Graduates: Dantonio spent six seasons as a Michigan State assistant so he knows a thing or two about the tradition surrounding the Spartans. That's why the new coach has tabbed former Spartan coach George Perles and former offensive guard Hank Bullough as honorary coaches for the spring game this weekend.

"It's important that our players understand who they're playing for," Dantonio said. "They're not just playing for Michigan State, but they're representing a large group of players who played here in the past."

Dantonio will jump at any opportunity to get his players to meet some of the Spartans former greats, like Carl Banks.

"There's tremendous history here. There's tradition here," Dantonio said. "This has always been a place of great following."

No Respect: Hoyer feels like the Spartans could really sneak up on some people because they haven't earned anyone's respect.

"I don't feel like we've earned anyone's respect yet," Hoyer said. "People know that Michigan State, over the past couple of years, has really dropped off after the first few games. That's something we're trying to establish not doing; having the mental toughness. Something is going to go wrong during the season. Everything isn't going to be perfect and the way you bounce back from that is the makeup of your team."

Hoyer thinks if the Spartans can establish a newfound toughness then they're going to be successful.

Fun Again: Baldwin said the Spartans - after their 4-8 2006 campaign - are back to enjoying being on the field again.

"Right now, we're out there having more fun," Baldwin said. "We didn't really have that much fun (last year), especially since we were losing. it's kind of hard to have fun when you win four games and one game in the Big Ten."

Posted by Adam Caparell at 06:29 PM on April 16, 2007

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