Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Williams may play bigger role for Spartans

October 23, 2002
Football head coach Bobby Williams stands on the sidelines before the Spartans’ game against Northwestern earlier this season at Spartan Stadium.

After MSU’s second consecutive blowout loss, head coach Bobby Williams said he would consider calling plays.

But at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, he made it clear offensive coordinator Morris Watts still pulls the trigger.

“Morris will continue to call plays,” he said. “I have the utmost confidence in his abilities.”

Williams added, however, he will be more involved with the offense in this week’s preparation and on game day than he has been in previous games.

The Spartan offense produced a season-low scoring performance in a 28-7 loss to Minnesota on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.

The third-year head coach also said he’s concerned about the toughness of his team.

“After the past two games against Minnesota and Iowa, it’s very evident that we have to become a tougher football team,” he said.

“We need to establish our toughness on offense - where we’re able to run the football - and on defense we have to be able to stop the run.”

The Spartan defense allowed 390 rushing yards to the Golden Gophers, while the offense only netted 51 yards on the ground. MSU has failed to rush for 100 yards in five of the seven games this year.

Injury update

Sophomore free safety Jason Harmon, who has started every game this year, is listed as doubtful for the Wisconsin game.

He suffered a sprained ankle in the second half against Minnesota and did not play the rest of the game.

Harmon ranks third on the team in tackles with 54 and has three interceptions, which ties him for first on the team with senior strong safety Thomas Wright. Freshman safety Eric Smith is slated to start in his position.

Spartan honors

Junior quarterback Jeff Smoker was selected as the Spartan Offensive Player of the Week. He completed 17-of-29 passes for 229 yards with one interception Saturday.

Williams said dropped passes prevented Smoker from having a bigger day statistically, and it was one of his best games in terms of accuracy and timing.

Sophomore linebacker Ronald Stanley earned Spartan Defensive Player of the Week with a 13-tackle performance off the bench against the Golden Gophers.

He did not start the game because of an injury sustained in practice.

“He’s an example of a guy playing with high effort,” Williams said.“We need to get more guys playing like that.”

The special teams award went to sophomore long snapper Andrew Petterson. The third-year walk-on filled in for freshman Chris Morris on field goals and punts.

Big Ten honors

Penn State tailback Larry Johnson earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after setting a school record with 257 rushing yards on 23 carries in a 49-0 rout of Northwestern.

Iowa linebacker Grant Steen set a school record with three interceptions against Indiana. This marks the second straight week a Hawkeye was recognized as the top defensive performer in the conference. Iowa safety Derek Pagel landed the award last week.

Ohio State punter Andy Groom was selected as the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. He totaled 301 yards on six punts for a 50.2 yard-per-punt average.

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