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Offense questioned after tough loss to U-M

October 7, 2005
MSU junior wide receiver Kerry Reed scores on a 61-yard touchdown pass during the second quarter of Saturday's game at Spartan Stadium.

Despite a 4-1 record, the second guessing of the MSU football team's coaching staff has begun after some failed plays in its 34-31 overtime loss to Michigan last week.

Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin has taken a bulk of the heat, but said if given the chance to recall any plays of the game, he would decline.

The general feeling among Spartans fans is that the play calling has been a bit conservative, especially during the second half of MSU's win over Notre Dame and the second half of the U-M game.

"To say we were conservative is ludicrous," Baldwin said. "Somebody wasn't watching the football game. We weren't conservative at all. We were lucky to be tied at 31.

"We were not conservative. I'm not worried about that at all."

Hampering the play-calling in the first half was the multitude of mistakes made by MSU on offense.

"We didn't execute," Baldwin said. "We dropped entirely too many footballs. We dropped six footballs and three of those came on third down in the first half."

MSU head coach John L. Smith says the team can't make little mistakes.

"We can't afford to drop six balls, we can't afford to turn the ball over," he said.

One of the biggest plays of the first half came when junior wide receiver Jerramy Scott was intercepted by U-M's Willis Barringer on a halfback option, where Scott had the ability to either throw the ball downfield or tuck it and run. Scott had redshirt freshman tight end Dwayne Holmes open near the end zone, but the ball was underthrown. Once again, Baldwin points to execution as the source of trouble on the play.

"If Scott stops and throws it when he's supposed to throw it, it's a touchdown," Baldwin said. "He's going down the sidelines wide open. I regret that he threw the ball."

MSU had been setting up the play since the Illinois game when Scott took two direct snaps and immediately ran with them, one going for a touchdown. The Spartans ran the direct snap play once against U-M before having Scott lineup next to junior quarterback Drew Stanton and taking a handoff.

"I don't regret that one at all. I didn't second-think that one at all," Baldwin said.

Near the end of a 17 play, 90- yard drive that ate up 8:38 on the clock, Baldwin decided to run the ball on a third-and-four.

"I thought they thought we were going to go option," Baldwin said. "That had been our tendency. So I thought, because I made the call, that we'd run into the boundary into the tight end, which we have never done, and run outside zone. We got the angle, but we just didn't make a block downfield.

"We tried to break the tendency and it didn't work, but I'd do that again. If we can get (freshman running back Javon) Ringer one-on-one with the safety with five yards to go, I feel good about that. It just didn't happen. We didn't block either of the two. We didn't block the corner or the safety."

Ringer was stopped for no-gain, putting MSU on the left hash and setting up junior kicker John Goss' missed 23-yard field goal that would've given the Spartans a 27-24 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

The Spartans only touched the ball for three regular plays the rest of the quarter as they did not get the ball back from the Wolverines until only 48 seconds remained on the clock, when they entered a no-huddle offense that included a hook-and-ladder play in which freshman running back Javon Ringer could not get out of bounds and the clock kept running.

MSU eventually ran out of time and U-M won the game in overtime.

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