Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sore subject

QB watches game from sidelines after shoulder injury

Sophomore quarterback Drew Stanton is tackled by three Michigan defenders during the second quarter Saturday in Ann Arbor. Stanton injured his shoulder on this play and did not return to the game. MSU lost, 45-37, in triple overtime. —

Ann Arbor - When sophomore quarterback Drew Stanton walked down the tunnel at Michigan Stadium to begin the second half with his teammates, he wore a baseball cap instead of a helmet, sneakers instead of football cleats and MSU warm-ups instead of full pads.

It was official - Stanton, after dissecting Michigan's defense almost at will in the first half, would not finish the game he started. And he could be out for three more weeks.

Head coach John L. Smith said Stanton probably separated his right shoulder when taking a hit late in the second quarter of MSU's 45-37 triple-overtime loss to U-M.

"He's got a separated shoulder - at least that's what we anticipate at this point," Smith said, adding he expects Stanton to be out two or three weeks.

Stanton said after the game he would be re-evaluated Sunday.

MSU assistant athletics director John Lewandowski did not return calls Sunday regarding Stanton's scheduled re-evaluation.

MSU built a 17-7 lead with about three minutes remaining in the first half when Stanton injured his shoulder.

Stanton took the snap on third-and-8 from MSU's 22-yard line and ran toward the right side of the offensive line. He found room to run, but U-M linebacker LaMarr Woodley caught up and drove Stanton into the turf.

"I just kind of saw a hole and I was trying to get into it and I got hit from my side and I never really got a chance to get my hand down or anything," Stanton said. "I just kind of landed on my shoulder awkwardly."

Damon Dowdell replaced Stanton and finished the game for MSU. The senior quarterback's career has been a mixed bag of success and failure, but there wasn't an MSU coach or player after the game who faulted his performance against U-M.

"Damon, he was a senior, he's from Michigan (Detroit), he realized this was his last chance and he did everything that was asked of him. He did a great job," Stanton said.

Stanton was 10-of-13 passing for 95 yards and rushed for 80 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game.

Dowdell was 8-for-13 for 72 passing yards; he rushed for 32 yards on six carries.

Despite their similar statistics and the praise Dowdell's performance incited from his teammates and coaches, it is difficult not to wonder if the game's outcome would have been different had Stanton not suffered the injury.

"You never know if (Stanton) would've been in there, this would've happened or anything would've happened," senior bandit Tyrell Dortch said. "Damn, man, it was just a big loss for us. But Damon came in and did a great job."

U-M tight end Tim Massaquoi said the Wolverines' defense had an easier time defending the Spartans with Dowdell at quarterback because MSU's offense wasn't as versatile.

"You don't have that killing threat because Stanton, this is my first time seeing him play - he's a great player," Massaquoi said.

MSU has been an offensive machine since Stanton became the starting quarterback. MSU averaged 33.8 points and 496.2 yards of total offense in the four games he started before Saturday's loss to U-M. MSU was 3-1 in those games.

In MSU's first three games, in which Stanton didn't start, they went 1-2, averaged 20.7 points and 368.7 total offensive yards.

For Dowdell, the current situation presents him with yet another chance to solve an MSU quarterback crisis.

He replaced Jeff Smoker for the last five games in 2002 after Smoker was suspended for substance abuse; he started the first game this season against Rutgers when Stanton's knee was healing and he started a game as a freshman in 2001 when Smoker was injured.

Dowdell's record as a starter is 1-6.

"I do feel that when I make mistakes, it seems to be brought out a little more, most definitely," he said. "But that's the pressure of being a quarterback, I guess. I don't know."

A tale of 2-plus halves

Drew Stanton was MSU's quarterback for all but two offensive plays in the first half. He injured his right shoulder with about three minutes left in the second quarter and did not return. Damon Dowdell replaced Stanton and kept the offense steady. MSU's offensive statistics against Michigan in its 45-37 triple-overtime loss:

Rushing yards Passing yards Points
First half 171 95 17
Second half 168 40 10
Overtime 29 32 10


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