Michigan State was one of several schools to kick off the slate of spring football games this month on Saturday, and one of two Big Ten schools (Northwestern) to take the field.

Head coach Mark Dantonio has had much more time to practice this offseason than he’s been accustomed to doing after finishing the 2016 season at 3-9 overall. It’s prompted him to bump up the schedule and get players back in action as early and often as possible.

There is also the dark cloud hanging over East Lansing with regards to the ongoing sexual assault investigation, which neither Dantonio nor the university has been able to comment in further detail.

But in terms of what took place on the field in East Lansing on Saturday, there were some notable things to take away from the MSU spring game. [Note: player’s class listed will reflect what year they are come next academic season in the fall]

1. BRIAN LEWERKE IS ‘THE GUY’ MOVING FORWARD

Only two quarterbacks saw the playing field for Michigan State on Saturday – [redshirt sophomore] Brian Lewerke and [junior] walk-on Colar Kuhns. The former saw substantial time for MSU in 2016, appearing in four games and showing pockets of promise before being literally knocked out for the season.

Both were able to potentially help their case with the coaches and put together these overall numbers on Saturday.

Prior to Saturday, there was no clear-cut answer at who may be the starting quarterback come opening night in the fall. But Dantonio reaffirmed that Lewerke appears to be the leader in the clubhouse.

Two other quarterbacks for Michigan State – [senior] Damion Terry and [redshirt freshman] Messiah deWeaver – were reportedly out of spring dealing with injuries. Terry was dressed but did not play. deWeaver is recovering from an undisclosed injury but isn’t believed to be serious.

But for now, consider Lewerke to be “the guy” moving forward.

2. NEW WEAPONS EMERGE ON THE OUTSIDE

One of the many reasons Michigan State struggled last season was having little to no play-making ability outside the hash marks. Outside of freshman Donnie Corley, there was little impact from the receiving corps, albeit not entirely their fault do to the inconsistent quarterback play.

With R.J. Shelton having graduated, Corley will definitely need some help come the fall, and a number of guys stepped up. Here are some of the receiving results from Saturday.

[Sophomore] Trishton Jackson was in sync with Brian Lewerke early and often on Saturday. The West Bloomfield High School product caught just five passes for 89 yards in all of 2016 as a true freshman.

Cam Chambers, who redshirted in 2016, should help in terms of depth as well. He entered the program as part of the 2016 recruiting class along with Corley. And Justin Layne was one of two players Dantonio he had playing two ways. Layne played on defense last season (18 tckls, 1 INT) after being recruited as a wideout.

Dantonio said both Jackson and Layne can certainly help out on offense in 2016 after putting together impressive spring practices.

3. DEFENSE MAKES IT MARK

Dantonio noted a number of standout performers on defense in Saturday’s spring game.

  • [Sophomore] Joe Bachie logged 11 tackles in just two games played last season, but Dantonio said that he’s penciled in to be the starting middle linebacker come next season, along side [senior] Chris Frey and [junior] Andrew Dowell.
  • [True freshman] Josiah Scott was all over the field on Saturday. He was responsible for one of two Lewerke interceptions and was on his receivers like glue. One of three early enrollees at the school, Dantonio said that Scott also is lined up to be a starter at corner come the fall. The head coach says he sees a lot of former Spartan Darqueze Dennard in the youngster Scott.
  • Lastly, [redshirt sophomore] Kenny Willekes was one of four players to earn a scholarship this semester at Michigan State. He too made an impact, and Dantonio says he reminds him of a former Spartan defensive lineman in Marcus Rush.
  • On the coaching front, Dantonio said there was a minor tweak some with personnel. He has assistant Mark Snyder coaching the defensive ends now rather than co-defensive coordinator Mike Tressel, who is overseeing the linebackers.

4. SCOTT RECOVERING FROM INJURY

Among the 15 absent from the Michigan State spring game was [junior] running back LJ Scott.

Scott has been the focal point of a 3-headed monster for Dantonio in the backfield each of the last two seasons, along side [junior] Madre London and [senior] Gerald Holmes. The trio have logged at least a combined 1,500 yards rushing each of the last two seasons, with Scott leading the way each season (was the only Spartan with at least 1,000 all-purpose yards in 2016).

Dantonio confirmed however on Saturday that his no-show on Saturday was due to recovering from offseason surgery.

For those digging towards the center of the earth of social media scouring for answers regarding the sexual assault investigation, you may have heard of the alleged rumors that Scott is one of the three unidentified players that was suspended from football activities and removed from on-campus housing earlier this year.

Dantonio has adamantly refused to speak on details of the investigation and name players involved, or any players sidelined for actions detrimental to the program. Does confirming Scott was out due to surgery recovery answer any questions? Perhaps.

Nevertheless, it proved to be beneficial for the likes of London and Holmes, who split the duties at running back on Saturday.

5. NOW WE PLAY THE WAITING GAME

Saturday’s spring game answered plenty of questions, but with nearly five months before the first official football game of 2017, there’s still far more questions left unanswered and a large portion of it will be off the field.

We still have no idea what will come of the ongoing sexual assault dilemma at Michigan State. Both the school’s top brass and the football program have remained in the dark until the authorities have come to conclusions and made some decisions. But to this day, no formal charges have been filed and until they do so, the subject will remain as pure speculation.

The personnel on the field that did play on Saturday did a lot to help their standing with the program, improving their spot on the depth chart. The goal for them is to not have any setbacks while also staying healthy.