Friday, January 28, 2022

Column: Airplanes, injuries and other malfunctions for MSU football

October 11, 2015
<p>Head coach Mark Dantonio yells to his team in the second quarter during the game against Central Michigan on Sept. 26, 2015, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Chippewas, 30-10. Julia Nagy/The State News </p>

Head coach Mark Dantonio yells to his team in the second quarter during the game against Central Michigan on Sept. 26, 2015, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Chippewas, 30-10. Julia Nagy/The State News

Photo by Julia Nagy | The State News

But you know what, sometimes the plane just isn’t ready to fly — then again, sometimes it has no choice.

In the Spartans’ case, they fell victim to the latter, as they grinded through knees, ankles and redshirts to defeat a then-2-2 Rutgers team, 31-24.

The unpredictable aspects of a football season, (injuries), hampered the Spartans on Saturday as they have all year long. And at certain points, it was extremely hard to watch the men in green and white attempt to play through pain, especially in the bittersweet return of junior tackle Kodi Kieler.

Kieler, who regularly plays right tackle, went down in week two against Oregon with a knee injury and his performance on Saturday told us all we needed to know. He was not ready to return; he simply had to.

For eight seconds at a time Kieler forged a wall on senior quarterback Connor Cook’s blindside in hopes of keeping the Spartans’ gunslinger standing upright. But when the whistle blew the play dead, Kieler’s vulnerability showed.

In the 25 seconds between plays, Kieler bobbed with a limp which would make you take your dog to the vet. I could feel the death-grip bite he had on his mouth guard as he jolted his head up and down to bare the discomfort in his knee. But perhaps the scariest part, was that an injured Kieler, usually the starting right tackle, was the best option the Spartans had at their most important offensive line position.

Let that sink in.

And if not to make matters worse, the Spartans’ emotional leader and reliever of the left tackle position, senior center Jack Allen, went down with an injury of his own late in the game and was seen afterward on crutches.

But wait, there’s more.

Junior defensive back Darian Hicks left the game with what appeared to me as symptoms of a concussion. Freshman running back Madre London was helped off the field after his right knee was tweaked under a tackler. Junior tackle Jack Conklin did not play due to a continued knee injury and his status against the University of Michigan is in question. And to add insult to injury, the ankle of junior tight end Josiah Price appears to be worse than hoped for the Spartans.

I expect Allen to show the same valiant effort against U-M as Kieler did against Rutgers and it would only make sense to see his teammates follow suit.

But should they chance further injury, or are readily healthy backups a better option?

I don’t know. And we will all find out more come Tuesday when head coach Mark Dantonio addresses the media.

One thing is for sure, though. There is no delaying the trip to Ann Arbor. It is here.

Malfunctioning or not, come Oct. 17, the Spartans will strap in with three working engines or none. There is no other choice.

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