Spartan Defense Can’t Contain Buckeyes

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The first half was a shootout, but the Buckeyes’ offense was too much for the Spartans as they went on to win on the road in East Lansing 49-37.

MSU looked as if they were taking control of the game, as Jeremy Langford ran in a touchdown to give Michigan State a 28-14 lead.  The play was called back, however, on a holding penalty by center Jack Allen. Michael Geiger then missed a field goal, and on the next play from scrimmage J.T. Barrett found MIke Thomas for a 79-yard touchdown.

In a matter of seconds, MSU went from possibly leading 14, to possibly leading 10, to tied up.  They would not regain the lead.

“…bottom line is they called the hold and we didn’t get seven. And it backed us up. And we didn’t overcome that and we missed the field goal on the next play,” head coach Mark Dantonio said after the game. “And then I forget really what happened.”

What happened was Michigan State’s defense continued to give up big play after big play. Even though MSU had 536 yards of total offense and Connor Cook threw for a career high 358 yards, even though MSU had zero turnovers and two takeaways – the Spartans came up short.

Cornerback Darian Hicks had five tackles on the night but was also the victim of a couple deep passes — one of which was on 3rd and 22 when Barrett found an open receiver for the first down and inside the Michigan State red zone. Barrett converted a fourth down and goal for a touchdown on that same drive.  After the game, when asked if he felt he had a bad game, Hicks said, “We all did.”

“I mean he [Barrett] had a good game. Their whole team game-planned well. Some of the plays he made, the throw to Devin Smith, there is not much I could really do about that. I thought I was in coverage, I thought I was in position, but he just happened to put it over the shoulder and got Devin on the sideline for it,” Hicks said.

When asked about moving on to the next game, he replied “We are just going to keep playing. We got to take it one game at a time.”

Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi did all he could to adjust to Ohio State’s high scoring offense. At the end of the day there simply was nothing Michigan State could do to stop Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott.

“They had a couple of different routes, but it was nothing we weren’t able to adjust too to early. We have got to make plays, and that is what it comes down to,” Narduzzi said.

When asked about the preparation for this team in practice, Narduzzi replied, “They were better than our scout team offense, let’s put it that way.”

This loss certainly does hurt the Spartans, and the players and coaches are well aware of its implications. But they still must move forward. Narduzzi said his team still has confidence in themselves moving forward.

“Those things are going to happen. The kids are confident in what they are doing. I call a play and the guy runs straight through us and the safety has got to get there. Again, they have some good players too. We have to give our offense a chance. We should win when we score 37 points,” Narduzzi said.

Senior captain Kurtis Drummond had a team high 11 tackles on the game. While certainly emotional after a tough loss, Drummond remained positive about the remainder of the season and gave credit to Ohio State’s offense.

“We’re still working,” Drummond said. “We need to come back in and work tomorrow and keep going forward. That’s the great thing about this team. Guys aren’t going to quit, guys aren’t going to give up, so we’re going to keep working.”

Michigan State will continue to work for another month or so, with four remaining games including a bowl game. Next for MSU will be a trip out east to face Maryland in College Park.


Bradley Allen is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports

Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports


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