April 4, 2012

Salem pleased with Bell, RB's through first four practices

EAST LANSING - On the first day of spring football, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio stressed the importance of avoiding complacency.

Dantonio's strongest statement about the need to avoid complacency was made in response to a question about junior tailback Le'Veon Bell. The strength of Dantonio's words made led to conjecture about whether Bell had done something to put himself in the sixth-year Spartan coach's doghouse.

Dantonio made it clear during a post-practice interview a couple of days later that his words were not directed at Bell as much as they were at his the team.

Running backs coach Brad Salem reiterated that point following practice on Tuesday.

"Nobody can be comfortable in their position," said Salem. "That is just where we stand as a program regardless (of position). He (Le'Veon) is really the one returning skill guy that we have, if you think about it, offensively that played a lot last year. I think that maybe is the statement that is made. It is not a complacency by him. But you don't want complacency. I think that is more of what we are saying. Everybody's got to be ready to compete."

Bell and his teammates in the Michigan State backfield have competed well according to Salem.

"All you've got to do is watch him run today," said Salem of Bell. "It is a competitive group and they are competing together. They are doing really a nice job. It was good, it was physical today. It has really been physical the last two days. But I think that is kind of the great thing when you kind of evolve to this and the competition within positions is (as good as it has been), the level of practice increases. Who we are going against offensively. We are going against a good defense and seeing physical guys up front and it has been green that our offensive line really has a lot of guys back and there is a comfort there too. We feel like we will be able to run the football well."

Salem believes that Michigan State's entire team has practiced with purpose during the first week of spring ball. Michigan State's bowl victory over Georgia is one of the reasons why the football team has had good energy according to the Spartan assistant.

"You always think about your last game," said Salem. "And what a great experience it was in the Outback Bowl. We played a very good Georgia team and we had a big win that day and it carries over. I don't think it carries over to complacency. I think it carries over that they want it again. That is kind of what you sense with this group. We kind of really are a lunch bucket blue collar group that gets after it and plays hard. They are just looking forward and they seem like they have the joy of playing football right now."

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