Thursday, May 23, 2024

Wide variety

Offense picked up where it left off against Notre Dame

Champaign, Ill - The first drive was not pretty. It featured a fumble and then a punt.

The second drive, however, was quite different.

Set on their own 25-yard line, the Spartans showed just how powerful and efficient their offense could be.

Junior quarterback Drew Stanton dropped back, faked a hand-off, and then found senior wide receiver Kyle Brown 19 yards down the sidelines. Brown turned it up, blew by the Illinois defenders and nearly walked the remaining 56 yards for a 75-yard touchdown reception.

Just like that, it was 7-0.

"We did a tremendous job of doing a lot of things we thought we should be able to do today and set the tempo," Stanton said.

MSU was determined not to let the first failed drive set the tone for the game.

"To us, that was like a failure, as good as we are," Brown said. "We just had to get that mentality back again and start making plays like we need to make."

The numbers that MSU put up in this game may not be matched for a long time.

The Spartans set a team record for total offense with 705 yards. They tied a Big Ten record with seven touchdown passes. Stanton set a school record with five touchdown passes.

"We didn't get off to a great start," MSU head coach John L. Smith said. "But once we started to settle down a little bit, (once we) started to click, things rolled our way pretty darn good."

After being stymied the rest of the first quarter, the offense exploded in the second quarter, scoring 28 points, with Stanton throwing for three scores and junior wide receiver Jerramy Scott running for the other on a direct snap.

Scott credits the work the offense did over the summer to the success it is having now.

"I knew this year would be special," he said. "Hopefully we can keep it going."

After being criticized for their performance against Notre Dame, the Spartan's offensive line crushed the Fighting Illini and were a huge part of the success. Saturday, they opened up enough space for freshman running back Javon Ringer to run for 194 yards on just 13 carries.

"It started up front with our offensive line," Stanton said. "They kind of took it personal after last week that we couldn't establish the run and things like that. That offensive front did a tremendous job. They're the reason we were able to have so much time and so much success running the ball as well."

Smith wishes he could take credit for Ringer being so good at such a young age.

"You can't coach great vision and that's what makes great running backs and he does have that," Smith said.

Even with the second team offense in the game, MSU still excelled, as redshirt freshman quarterback Brian Hoyer came in and threw for 70 yards and two touchdowns in a quarter and a half.

Hoyer's touchdown pass to junior receiver Kerry Reed was Reed's first career touchdown. Hoyer threw his first career touchdown to redshirt freshman tight end Dwayne Holmes on the first play of the fourth quarter.

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