Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Williams sticks with Smoker; Schaefers kicking spot up for grabs

October 2, 2001
MSU senior kicker David Schaefer misses a 46-yard field goal attempt during the second quarter of Saturday —

It’s easy to blame MSU’s kicking game for Saturday’s 27-26 loss at Northwestern since it failed to convert on three field goals and two extra points.

It’s also convenient to point a finger at the team’s discipline - the Spartans lead the Big Ten in snafus with 25. Saturday they committed nine penalties for 66 yards - including a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct infraction with 18 seconds remaining.

But in the wake of MSU’s conference-opening defeat, head coach Bobby Williams won’t point any fingers.

“That game is over. It’s over. Nothing we can do about it but move on,” Williams said. “That game is done.”

The Spartans are idle this week and have plenty of work to do once practice resumes Wednesday. In the meantime, members of the coaching staff are on the road recruiting today.

Once back on the field, Williams said he’ll take this week to stress fundamentals and individual improvement.

“We need to continue to develop our depth, looking at some of the younger players and continue to try and improve in some key areas,” Williams said. “We’ll get back to work on basic fundamentals. We can always still improve. It’s still the early part of the season.”

Still smokin’, but for how long?

Even though senior quarterback Ryan Van Dyke has a team-high 476 yards passing and four touchdowns this season, he won’t start against Iowa on Oct. 13.

Williams said MSU’s two-quarterback system - with Smoker as the starter and Van Dyke as the backup - won’t change against the Hawkeyes.

“We are going to keep things the same as they have always been,” Williams said.

The only changed element in MSU’s offensive scheme could be redshirt freshman Damon Dowdell, who saw his first action as a Spartan on Saturday.

Dowdell was in for two plays, running for 16 yards and a touchdown.

Williams said he won’t rule out putting Dowdell in more game situations - even if he isn’t taking Van Dyke or Smoker out.

“Don’t be surprised if you see two quarterbacks out there at the same time,” Williams said.

Getting the boot?

Senior kicker David Schaefer’s woes in MSU’s first three games have opened up the position for the Spartans’ matchup against Iowa.

Schaefer, who is 1-of-5 from field-goal range, said he was disappointed with his play against Northwestern. He missed three field goals and had an extra point blocked.

“I let the team down,” Schaefer said. “The offense played well enough to win, the defense played well enough to win, we scored a couple touchdowns on special teams, but I didn’t perform like I should have.”

Williams said freshman Dave Rayner and sophomore Michael Servis are two formidable candidates who could compete for the job.

“We’re just going to line them all up and have a kick-off in practice,” Williams said.

Welcome back

The linebacker position will get a boost this week when senior Ivory McCoy and freshman Seth Mitchell return from preseason injuries.

Both were sidelined in August; McCoy with a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot and Mitchell with a sprained MCL in his right knee.

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