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Spartans looking for answers after strong start disintegrates

October 24, 2005
Michael Bazemore, a senior defensive end, watches Saturday's Homecoming game slip away. Numerous mistakes allowed Northwestern to score touchdown after touchdown, leading to a 49-14 loss.

Following Saturday's 49-14 Homecoming loss, the only thing that John L. Smith could do was shrug.

"The only positive thing about today's game, the only positive thing for us is that we got a lot of young kids in to play," MSU's head coach said.

After starting the season with a promising 4-0 record, the Spartans have lost three straight games and now find themselves near the bottom of the Big Ten standings.

The Spartans have not won a game in nearly a month.

Although Smith expressed a very high level of concern with his team following Saturday's loss, he remains hopeful that his players will finish the season as winners.

"You kick em' in the butt and (if) they're competitive at all, which they are, they're going to bounce back," he said. "Those who bounce back are going to play."

The unit that Smith needs to bounce back more than anything is the offense, which was only able to muster 14 points on Northwestern's shaky defense.

The offense was at a loss from the opening kickoff when senior wide receiver Kyle Brown hurt his ankle. Both Brown and already-injured senior wide receiver Matt Trannon saw limited playing time.

"That hurt us a little bit," Smith said. "And the kicking game hurt us a little bit and the play calling, there was some things there."

Other than a first-quarter fumble recovery, the Spartans defense was equally poor.

"We prepared this week like we do every week," junior defensive lineman Clifton Ryan said. "There weren't any clues that we were going to come out and perform the way we did. We actually had a great week of preparation leading up to this game."

The Spartans defense was unable to record a single sack on Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez and gave up 533 yards of total offense.

"We're really down about this loss," Ryan said. "It's disappointing any time you lose a ball game, especially by the margin we lost this ball game."

Not so special teams

Junior kicker John Goss's struggles continued Saturday when he missed field goals from 47 and 37 yards and did not kick the extra point after a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Instead, freshman walk-on Matt Haughey attempted the kick and made it.

Goss is now 4-for-11 on field goals this season.

Smith said after the game he had planned on giving Haughey a field-goal attempt at the end of the game, but was unable to because time expired. Smith said Haughey likely will take the field-goal kicking duties from now on.

Remember when?

The last time the Spartans suffered a 35-point loss was Nov. 15, 2003, when Wisconsin posted a 56-21 win over the Green and White at Camp Randall Stadium.


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