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Smoker listed 50-50; Stanton named No. 2 QB

September 16, 2003
Redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Stanton throws the ball while junior quarterback Damon Dowdell watches during football practice. Santon was named the backup quarterback for this week's game against Notre Dame. —

The MSU offense came to a halt without its star quarterback on the sidelines in its 20-19 loss to Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

So, the Spartans are hoping that he'll be able to return for this Saturday's game at Notre Dame.

X-rays were negative on senior quarterback Jeff Smoker's right big toe, meaning it is not broken, and he is listed as questionable for Saturday's game.

"Jeff is (the starter) right now," head coach John L. Smith said. "We're comfortable that his toe is much better today, but he's still a question mark. It's a big ugly toe. We've got to get the swelling out of it."

If Smoker cannot play, his backup is now redshirt freshman Drew Stanton.

Stanton moves ahead of junior Damon Dowdell after Dowdell went 7-for-11 for 54 yards but failed to lead the Spartans to a touchdown drive in 3 1/2 quarters of action.

If Stanton does start, he will likely be replaced on special teams by Dowdell.

When asked about taking time on special teams away from Stanton, Smith said, "You're giving away game plan." But he admitted, "We would probably limit the special teams play (if he started)."

Hayes named starter

With junior running back Tyrell Dortch on the sidelines in street clothes nursing a sprained ankle against Louisiana Tech, sophomore Jaren Hayes played himself into the starting lineup.

"(Hayes) probably did (earn a spot)," Smith said. "He had good effort, ran the ball good and caught the ball well."

Although Smith indicated that Dortch could have played if necessary, he sat the game out but will likely return, as the backup, for this week's game.

Hayes, however, played well, running for 145 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown and was named the starter on Monday. He also had five receptions for 58 yards in the game.

Yards for free

While MSU was penalized a total of 10 times for 80 yards in Saturday's game, the two most important penalties seemed to be senior defensive end Greg Taplin's face-masking penalty on the final drive and an illegal formation that cost Agim Shabaj a touchdown reception in the first half.

On second-and-10 on the Bulldogs' final drive, junior defensive end Clifford Dukes sacked Bulldogs quarterback Luke McCown for an 8-yard loss, but Taplin was whistled for a flagrant face-mask penalty.

"This game we had a lot of mental mistakes on defense," junior Matthias Askew said after the game. "You can never win a game with as many penalties as we had today.

"It hurt (Taplin), but he kept wanting to make plays, and it happened

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