Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Football Notes: Dantonio thinks run game still needs work after IU win

September 24, 2018
Senior wide receiver Felton Davis III (18) hauls in a pass during the game against Indiana on Sept. 22, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Hoosiers, 35-21.
Senior wide receiver Felton Davis III (18) hauls in a pass during the game against Indiana on Sept. 22, 2018 at Memorial Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Hoosiers, 35-21. —
Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.-  After Saturday night’s win against Indiana, the 24th-ranked Spartans had a few unexpected plays unravel throughout the game, with three players scoring their first career touchdowns.

Despite this, coach Mark Dantonio said the offense struggled in the running game. 

“We've got to run the ball more effectively,” Dantonio said. “We can’t hurt ourselves with errors and with penalties, we've got to make better decisions at times as well.”

The Spartans ran the ball 40 times for 131 yards, but most of them came from freshman wide receiver Jalen Nailor's 79-yard touchdown run, late in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore tight end Matt Dotson would help put MSU up by 14 points in the second quarter after scoring his first career touchdown on an 11-yard pass from junior quarterback Brian Lewerke.

“As soon as I knew my feet were down, I was shell shocked,” Dotson said. “It was crazy because when I scored there was no one around me, so I kind of didn’t know what to do.”

Last season, Dotson started in 10 games in the green and white uniform and played 74 snaps.

The Sophomore admitted he did not know the play was actually made for him until the very moment when he caught the ball, in large part due to the few scoring opportunities he's had at MSU thus far.    

“I’ve also botched a lot of opportunities for a touchdown last year,” Dotson said. “Against Rutgers, bad footwork and trying not to trip and fall with the ball way over my head.”



As for receiving, senior wide receiver Felton Davis III had five catches for 79 yards, sophomore Cody White was next in line with 77 yards and junior Darrell Stewart Jr. caught just two passes for 14 yards.

Lewerke admits there were some communication issues throughout the game between he and his receivers.

“Our receivers were much better than our corners in my opinion,” Lewerke said. “There’s a couple throws that I could have put in a better spot for them to catch it.”

Nailor, a true freshman this season, scored the final touchdown of the game just minutes after Indiana scored a field goal to close the Spartans' scoring gap in the fourth quarter.

Dotson knows what this receiving core is capable of. 

“I think the main thing is that we have so many elite receivers, so I think eventually, when people start realizing that we can double team our receivers and focus more on our receivers, things are going to open us for us,” Dotson said.

The wide receivers would gain a total of 186 yards over the night. 

Despite the production from the receiving core, Dantonio knows there will be stuff to work on Monday before the team returns back to non-conference play Saturday against Central Michigan.

“We need to be able to run the ball inside and we also need to have perimeter runs,” Dantonio said. “We need to get the ball on the edge. It’s all a part of our scheme.”

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