September 4, 2012

Dantonio wants wide receivers to step up

EAST LANSING - Growing pains were expected at the position of wide receiver, which has replaced senior playmakers BJ Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, and Keith Nichol.

But dropped passes, a fumble, and an interception on a tipped pass that should have been caught in a 17-13 victory over Boise State, are mistakes that Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio wants to see eliminated.

"From my perspective, we probably have eight guys that have got to have an opportunity to play at wide receiver," Dantonio said. "I think we've gotten it to that point that we have eight guys. They all have talent. They have to be consistent. That is the message now."

Bennie Fowler and Tony Lippett started for Michigan in the opener. Keith Mumphery took a large number of snaps against Boise State as the third wide receiver. Andre Sims and DeAnthony Arnett also took game reps.

"We've Got a couple guys that are a little farther along than other guys," Dantonio said. "But at this point in time, nobody has set themselves apart. So we've got to let them play."

Freshmen Monty Madaris, Aaron Burbridge, and MacGarrett Kings will take more snaps in practice this week. There is a chance that one or more of that group will play against Central Michigan.

"You have other individuals that have to get opportunities to show what they can do," Dantonio said. "And those opportunities are going to come in practice this week or in the games early in the season. But we've got to find our guys, our four or five guys, three, four, however many it is as we go through these next three games and we have to feel confident that we can throw to our wide receivers. That is part of it. Our wide receivers have to catch it."

Burbridge is practicing again after being sidelined by a knee injury for all of training camp.

"He's one of the eight that we're talking about," said Dantonio of Burbridge. "I would say we'll see how he progresses in practice this week. It's too early to say. I think we have to give him an opportunity to show what he's got because he didn't have that opportunity in the summer."

Madaris has bounced back from a high ankle sprain.

"I would say the same thing about Madaris," Dantonio said. "They have to have an opportunity to show. We have to evaluate that in practice reps. So we'll try to do that to the best of our ability. But we'll try to win, and if he takes us to that level, that's what we're going to do."

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