Monday, June 17, 2024

Solid win over Central Mich. showcases young players

September 13, 2004
Redshirt freshman running back Jehuu Caulcrick dives into the end zone during the third quarter of Saturday's game against Central Michigan University. Caulcrick finished the game with 67 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown.

Spartans fans were introduced to two new faces Saturday in MSU's 17-point win over Central Michigan University.

"It was good to see the young guys play and grow a little today," head coach John L. Smith said after the 24-7 victory. "We still want to play more (young kids), and we'll work them in (to the games)."

Redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Reaves started the first game of his career in MSU's home opener, completing 9-for-19 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown. The pass was a 44-yard play to junior receiver and captain Kyle Brown.

"I didn't get to see it because I got hit, but I heard the crowd screaming and I knew it was a touchdown," Reaves said. "I felt great after that."

While Reaves made mistakes, luck seemed to be on his side. His two fumbles did not result in turnovers - he recovered one, while the other rolled out of bounds - and an almost certain interception went through Central cornerback Richard Kiel's hands and into the hands of MSU sophomore wide receiver Jerramy Scott.

Another Spartan making his debut was redshirt freshman running back Jehuu Caulcrick. He carried the ball 15 times for 67 yards and a touchdown after not playing one second at Rutgers.

MSU (1-1) as a team ran for 213 yards, with Caulcrick, junior Jason Teague and senior DeAndra Cobb gaining most of the yards.

Cobb had five carries for 31 yards and Teague had a team best 20 carries for 74 yards.

"It was totally a group effort among the three of us," Caulcrick said. "We know we have a good unit, we just have to come out and show it every week."

Smith talked all week about scaling back the offense and the defense, due to the younger players.

"There are some things we can build on - a lot of positives, but a lot of negatives," Smith said. "We were conservative in our game plan and it showed."

Smith was pleased with the defense, except for the one play Central scored on - a 90-yard touchdown run by running back Jerry Seymour.

The Spartans gave up 329 total yards, but held the Chippewas (0-2) scoreless until 8:16 left in the third quarter. Of Central's total yards, 236 of them were gained on the ground, with Seymour running for 170 by himself.

MSU's defense was unable to create a turnover against Central, with only one forced in the first two games. MSU senior safety and captain Jason Harmon said the defense isn't worried about not creating turnovers up to this point in the season.

"We've been making big plays, just no turnovers," Harmon said. "They're going to come, we just have to keep hustling to the ball and swarming."

The pass defense held Central quarterback Kent Smith to 93 yards passing. He did gain 64 yards rushing, but was unable to complete a pass longer than 15 yards.

Overall, Smith was happy with the win, but said he knows his team can play better. Harmon echoed Smith's statement, liking the direction the team is going.

"We didn't win the game like we wanted to - we wanted to shut them out," Harmon said. "It's good to get a win and we took a lot of steps forward."

The Spartans play host to Notre Dame (1-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Spartan Stadium. The Irish upset then-No. 8 Michigan 28-20 on Saturday.

"We're going to have to step it up against Notre Dame," Harmon said. "We can't perform like we did (Saturday) and expect to beat Notre Dame."


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