Thursday, May 23, 2024

Blame game

Smith faults coaches for chaos on game-changing play in second quarter

October 17, 2005
Junior defensive end Clifton Ryan (92) and senior defensive end Michael Bazemore (40) hang their heads on the bench with the rest of the MSU defense in the final minute of MSU's 35-24 loss to Ohio State on Saturday. The Spartans are 1-2 in the Big Ten.

Columbus, Ohio — After last season's loss to Ohio State, MSU head coach John L. Smith was livid. He answered one question in his postgame press conference before storming off in disgust.

This season, despite coming off another loss to the Buckeyes, Smith faced the media as a solemn man after a self-admitted coaching blunder turned the tide in MSU's 35-24 loss to Ohio State (4-2 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) at Ohio Stadium.

"This loss goes to the coaches and the bottom line is it goes on my name," Smith said. "So it should say Ohio State won the game but the loss goes to the coaches and that goes on me … We've just got to make sure that a crucial mistake like that never happens again, never had it before and we won't have it ever again."

The crucial mistake made by the Spartans (4-2, 1-2) occurred when the coach in charge of organizing the field-goal unit, unnamed by Smith, yelled for a field goal after junior quarterback Drew Stanton was taken down on a keeper with less than 20 seconds left in the first half.

Smith, Stanton and the offense had planned to spike the ball to stop the clock.

"We were going to clock the ball," Smith said. "We have fast field goal ready to go and they're just supposed to be ready. So now we have another down so let's go ahead and clock it and then take our time. We'll go out and kick it.

"Why would you send them on the field?"

In the confusion, half of the field-goal team ran onto the field while much of the offense lingered.

Senior defensive end Michael Bazemore went onto the field with the field-goal team but then turned around and ran off, leaving MSU one player short on the field, allowing the unobstructed path to the kick.

"I saw Kellen Davis and Jerramy Scott out there so I ran back because they're not on the field-goal team," Bazemore said.

Junior punter Brandon Fields, the holder on the play, was responsible for counting the men, said Smith. Fields snapped the ball with two seconds left on the clock.

"We had a lot of miscommunication, a little bit of chaos," Fields said. "Obviously, on my part, I probably shouldn't have snapped it in the first place. Everything was thrown out of whack and obviously it won't happen in the future."

Fields said he didn't consider spiking the ball himself.

The result allowed Ohio State's Nate Salley to come in unmolested and block the try, which was recovered and taken 72 yards by Ashton Youboty for a touchdown.

Smith was surprised that the Spartans even managed to have 10 players make it onto the field.

"It was a mess, it was a total mess," Smith said. "Coaching blunder."

If the field goal was good, it would've given the Spartans a 20-7 halftime lead. Instead, MSU found itself up just three and the momentum turned 180 degrees.

The Buckeyes put pressure on junior kicker John Goss the whole game. They almost blocked his 32-yard attempt in the first quarter and did block his next two. Even his three extra points were almost blocked.

The second block came late in the fourth quarter with the Spartans driving. Smith called the try "a little slow," which lead to the block. This time, Youboty blocked the kick, which was not returned.

Matt Bishop can be reached at bishop20@msu.edu.

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