Flag on the Play – Penalties Still a Concern for Spartans

“Disgusting” was the word used by Coach Mark Dantonio to describe Michigan State’s high volume of penalties this season.  Dantonio seemed upset on Sunday, saying to the Detroit Free Press that certain penalties should not be tolerated.

So, as Spartan diehards, we can all agree that penalties are just killer, right?  The 10 penalties against Notre Dame were a huge contributor to MSU’s only loss this season; and who can forget the heart-breaking roughing the punter fiasco in the inaugural B1G Championship in 2011?  Losing is bad enough, but when the officials play a key role in the game it makes things much more frustrating.

Who is to blame for these penalties? Is it undisciplined student-athletes? Or, as John L. Smith might suggest, coaches screwing it up?   Either way, the Spartans are on pace to near 1,000 total yards in penalties this season.  With a 5-1 record and chance to win the  Legends Division and play for a B1G Championship, cutting down on penalties will be key for the Spartans’ success.

But penalties are not the only factor in determining a successful season.  The Spartans total penalty yards lost in 2012 was the same as it was in 2011.  In 2011, they finished 11-2 (Remember Kirk Cousins?), but in 2012 they ended up 7-6.

Here is a game-by-game breakdown of the Spartan’s total penalties/penalty yards from the past two and a half seasons.



1st Half of Season: 45/473

10/100 Indiana (W)

8/70 Iowa (W)

10/115 ND (L)

2/19 Youngstown State (W)

9/94 USF (W)

6/75 WMU (W)



Total: 75/735

7/72 TCU: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (W)

5/45 Minn. (W)

2/21 Northwestern (L)

9/100 Nebraska (L)

4/25 Wisconsin (W)

7/50 Michigan (L)

5/56 Iowa (L)

8/115 Indiana  (W)  first six games: 36/366

4/35 OSU (L)

3/30 EMU (W)

5/56 ND (L)

6/40 CMU (W)

10/90 Boise (W)



Total: 90/735

8/50 UGA: Outback Bowl  (W)

7/50 Wisconson (L)

8/66 Northwestern (W)

5/45 Indiana (W)

7/75 Iowa (W)

9/90 Nebraska (L)

*0/0 Wisconsin (W)

13/124 Michigan  (W) First 6 Games: 46/359

6/54 Ohio State  (W)

4/20 CMU (W)

12/86 ND (L)

3/20 FAU (W)

8/55 Youngstown State (W)


Impact Stat

-The Spartans had zero penalties in their thrilling last-second victory vs.Wisconsin in 2011.


Bradley Allen is a Multi-Media Journalist for Impact Sports.

Photo: David Defever