Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Smoker, Van Dyke play video games, share a pad, agree its all about support

September 21, 2001

Roommates Jeff Smoker and Ryan Van Dyke couldn’t wait to give the video game, NCAA Football 2002, a shot this summer.

The two quarterbacks, who shared playing time during the Spartans 35-21 victory over Central Michigan last week, flicked on the television screen, loaded up their Sony PlayStation 2 and were amused at what they saw.

Smoker, a sophomore, was listed as MSU’s starting quarterback, while Van Dyke, a senior, was depicted as backup with one noticeably inaccurate quality.

“I’m just the backup, and I don’t appreciate that they have me left-handed too,” joked Van Dyke, who’s right-handed. “We definitely both got a kick out of that one.”

In the win over Central, both quarterbacks saw action and produced. Smoker passed for 196 yards and one touchdown, while Van Dyke passed for 94 yards and two touchdowns.

And even though the friends will continue sharing time in the future, neither one is worried about any problems - let alone a video game - tarnishing their friendship.

“This isn’t just some show we’re putting on for the media,” Smoker said. “We’re good friends and we don’t fight. I don’t think we argue or fight about anything.”

Not only do they not fight, but both signal-callers claim their closeness has improved their play.

“I think we have made each other better, whether it’s been in the summer or during last season,” Van Dyke said. “No matter what, nothing will come between us. We’re both here to win.”

The hype of MSU’s quarterback controversy began last fall, when Van Dyke injured his right thumb in MSU’s season opener against Marshall and was sidelined for three games.

Smoker filled in for the veteran and had a 3-3 record in six starts, playing 223.5 minutes. Van Dyke returned to post a 2-3 record in five games, a total of 96 minutes.

And even though head coach Bobby Williams said Smoker is his starter, the race this season isn’t over.

But Smoker said no matter what, they’ll be working together.

“We both try to help each other out since we see different things from the field and the sidelines,” Smoker said. “We help each other out when something goes wrong and congratulate each other when we each make plays. If we keep this kind of system, we’ll be OK.”

Van Dyke said he wants to work together as well, especially since both had a fair showing against Central.

“I thought things worked pretty well for Jeff and I,” Van Dyke said. “We both looked pretty good out there and were able to get a feel for the game. It doesn’t bother me to have this type of system.”

They aren’t the only one’s optimistic about the new offensive plan. Junior receiver BJ Lovett said he is also convinced. He caught two passes from Smoker and one pass from Van Dyke in the Central game.

“Both quarterbacks were able to get us the ball and make plays,” Lovett said. “The receivers all looked pretty good and it helped to have two guys handling the offense well.”

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