Thursday, February 29, 2024

Williams focuses on game against Iowa after loss to Northwestern

October 3, 2000
Senior offensive tackle Matt Bonito walks off the field after being injured during the season opener against Marshall at Spartan Stadium. —

Rather than speculate what went wrong Saturday against Northwestern, head coach Bobby Williams said he’s moving on to more pressing matters, like preparing for the game at Iowa this weekend.

“In my mind, that game is done. Can’t do anything about it. It’s over, history,” he said. “We’re in the loss column. We’ve got to get ready to play Iowa.”

Still, Williams said the 37-17 loss to Northwestern, his first since taking over the MSU program, was hard to take.

“I’ve never handled losing very well,” he said. “It’s hard, it’s always tough.”

Van Dyke update

Williams said the reason junior quarterback Ryan Van Dyke didn’t play against Northwestern was because he had a hard time taking snaps from the center before the game. It was the first time Van Dyke has done so since he injured his thumb.

Van Dyke, who bruised his thumb Sept. 9 against Marshall and did not play against Missouri, Notre Dame and Northwestern, has gone through rehabilitation and treatment.

“We did X-ray, MRI, and there was no fracture there, there was no damage to ligaments,” Williams said. “He just got hit in a spot where it’s really made it hard to function his entire hand.”

Welcome to the Big Ten

Williams was the seventh Spartan head coach to go winless in his first Big Ten game. Nick Saban nearly won in 1995, but his team tied Purdue 35-35. Saban didn’t win his first Big Ten game of the year until his third try against Illinois.

The last MSU coach to win his first Big Ten game was Biggie Munn in 1953, a 21-7 win at Iowa.

Though it was Munn’s last season coaching the Spartans, it was the first year of Big Ten play for MSU.

Thrown into the fray

Numerous injuries suffered during the first part of the season have put Williams in a position to play a lot of first-year players.

“We’ve got 15 freshmen and redshirt freshmen playing right now,” he said. “I wish we didn’t have to play freshmen so early. With the injury situation now, we’ve got to play these guys.”

Among the freshmen getting playing time are quarterback Jeff Smoker, running back Tyrell Dortch, safety Monquiz Wedlow, center Brian Ottney, defensive tackle Joe Tate, linebacker Bradshaw Littlejohn and defensive end Greg Taplin.

Speaking of those injuries...

Besides Van Dyke, Williams said he expects senior safety Richard Newsome (right quadricep contusion), junior tailback Little John Flowers (sprained shoulder), senior defensive end Dimitry Bernard (sprained ankle) and senior tackle Siitupe Peko (sprained knee) to all practice this week. None of them played against Northwestern.

“Hopefully the guys that were out last week will be back in the lineup this week,” Williams said.

Sophomore wide receiver Marcus Waters sprained his shoulder against the Wildcats and is doubtful to play this weekend at Iowa.


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