Running his game
Ringer leads Spartans to victory, remains humble about role on team
One by one, the MSU offensive line walked into the media trailer following Saturday’s 23-7 win against Notre Dame.
The fullbacks and tight ends followed the linemen.
The front of each player’s jersey was soaked with sweat and each had beads of perspiration rolling down their foreheads.
Finally, Javon Ringer, the face of the 2008 MSU football team, entered the room. The senior running back went to the podium, standing in front of his five offensive linemen, all of whom towered over the 5-foot-9, 202-pound senior captain.
“Like I said earlier, I can do nothing without these guys paving the way for me,” said Ringer, who blew by the Notre Dame defense for 201 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries.
Notre Dame game quick hits
Hero of the game
MSU running back Javon Ringer
Ringer’s 201 yards on the ground make him the Hero of the Game for the third week in a row (it’s probably a coveted honor for the senior running back). He hit holes, broke a big run in the fourth quarter and was the goal line rusher the Spartans needed.
Goat of the game
Notre Dame kicker Brandon Walker
The Fighting Irish had a chance to get within one touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but Walker missed a 41-yard field goal. The score remained 16-7 and MSU added a touchdown following the missed kick.
Notre Dame scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to bring the score to 13-7. MSU responded with the turning point drive, marching from its own 40-yard line deep into Irish territory for a field goal thanks in part to two Brian Hoyer to Mark Dell connections, including a third down completion at the Notre Dame 32-yard line.
Q1, MSU FG — Brett Swenson, 45 yards — 11:14
Q2, MSU TD — Javon Ringer, 1-yard run (Swenson PAT) — 3:28
Q3, MSU FG — Swenson, 26 yards (5:32)
Q4, ND TD — Michael Floyd, 26-yard pass from Jimmy Clausen (Brandon Walker PAT good) — 14:51
Q4, MSU FG — Swenson, 23 yards — 9:10
Q4, MSU TD — Ringer 1-yard run (Swenson PAT) — 2:16
“What happens is that they can give him the ball 39 times in a game, and you can hit him and hit him and hit him and he just keeps on coming.”
— Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis on Ringer’s stamina
Senior running back Javon Ringer attempts to break away from the Fighting Irish during the first quarter of the game against Notre Dame Saturday at Spartan Stadium. Ringer had a total of 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
“We were able to win because of these guys — not because of me, not because of (senior quarterback Brian) Hoyer or the receivers — it was because of the guys up front. I told y’all they should be doing the interviews instead of me.”
Ringer’s opening statement was only the beginning of the praise he gave his linemen.
He told reporters bringing them out was “the most he could do for them.”
He said he “would be nothing without them.”
Through four games, Ringer has carried the ball 143 times — an average of almost 35 per game.
His 143 attempts are easily the most in the country — 30 more than the next back — but every week Ringer dances around questions regarding the state of his body and whether or not he feels fatigued.
After Saturday, Ringer rated his body an eight on a scale of one to 10.
With the Big Ten season now a week away and the probability of his workload remaining high, Ringer said he was certain his good health would continue.
“Running behind these guys?” Ringer said, rhetorically asking himself. “Yeah, I’ll be OK.”
For those closest to Ringer, it was no shock that the senior captain brought his offensive line with him.
What Ringer had tried to do by shying away from the spotlight and giving his offensive line their due had back-fired on him, leaving everybody to marvel about what a great person — not player — he is.
“That’s not a surprise for Javon to bring those guys in here,” offensive coordinator Don Treadwell said. “He’s as humble as they come. He’s a tremendous leader.”
After Treadwell’s comments, MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi began his time at the podium by campaigning Ringer for Heisman Trophy consideration before talking about a defense that held Notre Dame to seven points, sacked the quarterback three times and intercepted two passes.
When it was head coach Mark Dantonio’s turn to speak, he followed suit in praising Ringer.
For what has to be the ump-teenth time in the past three weeks, Dantonio preached about Ringer’s work ethic, calling the best running back in the nation — at least numbers-wise — a “total team player.”
“I can’t say enough about him as a person, aside from his athletic abilities, it’s the person in him, it’s the intangibles in him that make him the back that he is,” Dantonio said. “There are other guys that are just as explosive or just as fast, but it’s the things inside of him that makes him special.”
Easy to root for
The world of collegiate athletics is inching ever closer to the professional game, with more and more amateurs following in the footsteps of their professional peers.
This season, there have been more and more negative headlines with top-notch student-athletes from BCS schools, such as Georgia and Penn State, getting kicked off their teams or seeing potential jail time.
Perhaps that’s why Ringer’s actions Saturday are so calming. A collegiate superstar trying to shy away from the spotlight.
“He just called us all together and said, ‘You guys are coming in with me,’” redshirt freshman left guard Joel Foreman said. “At first I didn’t know what was going on, but we came in here and he was praising us and it really means a lot because not a lot of offensive lines out there are as lucky to have a running back like Javon.”
The post-game press conference began with Ringer deflecting the credit away from himself, instead wanting to get his offensive line noticed.
But in the end, it turns out Ringer fumbled — something that’s only happened twice this year.
Instead of giving more publicity to his offensive line, his blockers turned it around on him, giving the public another view of the budding superstar.
Maybe it’s just habit for them.
They block the opposing team so Ringer can be the player he is.
Then they block the praise, spinning it around to show the world how great of a person he is.
“It’s an honor to block for someone like Javon Ringer,” Foreman said. “He really epitomizes a leader and he really epitomizes a teammate. It’s cool when you get to say ‘I block for Javon Ringer,’ because he’s a good guy – not just a great athlete.”
Cash Kruth is a State News football reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.