MSU football notebook: Josiah Scott named starting cornerback
After a 38-18 loss to Notre Dame, head coach Mark Dantonio reviewed the loss and previewed the Spartans’ first conference game of the season this Saturday in Dantonio’s weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Here are a few takeaways:
Scott named a starter: True freshman Josiah Scott had been listed on the depth chart as a second-string cornerback for the Spartans’ first three games of the season, however, he would start in all three games with sophomore Josh Butler.
On Tuesday, MSU released its depth chart for the Spartans’ conference game against Iowa this Saturday, and Scott was listed as one of two starters at cornerback.
Scott’s promotion on the depth chart demoted Justin Layne, who was listed as a starter in all three games this season but never actually recorded a start.
“Josiah is a mature individual,” Dantonio said Tuesday. “He works hard, he's tough, can run, got great ball skills, he plays the ball back to the ball very effectively and he reminds me a lot, in terms of how he presents himself and how he handles himself, of Darqueze Dennard, especially that Darqueze was a true freshman. And that's admirable. Thus far he's been great.”
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: After three games this season, the Spartans have committed eight turnovers. Their opponents have capitalized on their mistakes, scoring 37 points off of MSU’s turnovers, while the Spartans have scored just seven points off of their opponents’ turnovers.
“Basic emphasis on football is hold onto the ball; don't turn it over,” Dantonio said. “I don't know how many times I've talked about turnovers. Right now, we are not good at that. We need to change that. That's everybody's responsibility. We'll coach it, but at some point in time, players make plays.”
MSU has fumbled the ball nine times in 2017, with six being recovered by the opposing team. Quarterback Brian Lewerke has thrown two interceptions so far this season, including one against Notre Dame that was returned for a touchdown.
The Spartans have yet to force a fumble, but they have recorded two interceptions.
“We worked hard at creating those,” Dantonio said of forcing turnovers. “Sometimes they come in batches, sometimes you get hot. But those have to come as well. Those are the equalizing factors in a football game. I think that's how it gets lopsided at times. You look across the country, it's going all over the place. It always has been.”
No long-term injuries: After MSU’s loss to the Irish last Saturday, Dantonio announced that there were no serious injuries that stemmed from the game.
Sophomore linebacker Joe Bachie had to have trainers come to his aid twice in the loss, but he was able to walk off the field on his own power in both instances. Dantonio would later reveal that Bachie was suffering cramps.
Safety Grayson Miller did not dress in the loss, but Dantonio confirmed on Tuesday that it isn’t a long-term injury.
“Can't really talk about injuries. It's not a long-term thing,” Dantonio said.
Getting running backs going: Quarterback Brian Lewerke currently is the team’s leading rusher with 206 yards and accounts for 31 percent of the team’s rushing yards.
Dantonio was unhappy with the performance of the rushing attack after last Saturday’s game, and he continued to say on Tuesday that the running back trio needs to be more effective in running the ball.
“I think we need to. That sets the focus,” Dantonio said. “Did we run the ball effectively last week? 52 (yards) of (the total rushing yardage Saturday) was on that quarterback sneak. It was well designed, and he took off, but, again, the game changed. So at halftime, take that 52 out of there, you've got about 50. … I've said all along that we've got to get our tailbacks going, and we have to.”