After losing redshirt junior running back Jalen Berger to injury during the game and redshirt senior tailback Jaren Mangham before the game, the bulk of Saturday afternoon's touches went to sophomore back Nathan Carter in a 31 point win over the Richmond Spiders and he did not disappoint.
After scoring two touchdowns in the Spartan's week one victory over Central Michigan, the UConn transfer outdid himself in a 45-14 rout, rushing for 111 yards and three scores on 19 attempts.
“Nate is just one of those guys that will get the job done,” redshirt junior quarterback Noah Kim said. “He works hard. He runs hard. He knows what to do. And so you have a complete back that makes your life easier and it makes your team better. We fully trust that we can do what we need him to do.”
With multiple players at Carter’s position going down to injury, leaving Carter to spearhead the unit, head coach Mel Tucker has full confidence that he can go the distance since he takes his health very seriously.
“He's in superior condition,” Tucker said. "He's very serious about his training. He takes care of his body. You see it in the weight room and things like that.”
Sixth year transfer tight end Tyneil Hopper came to MSU primarily for his blocking prowess, and he has seen first hand how special Carter can be when he creates space in the open field.
“He's just so explosive,” Hopper said. “And he's a great guy. I feel like he's a leader and everything like that. He's a godly man and I'm a godly man. So we really connect in that way. He's just one of those guys that years when he touches the ball, you feel like he's gonna take it all the way. He's gonna score every time through that.”
With last year's offensive line being basically injured the entire season, their health this year has helped Carter shine. Even with this though, Carter has flashed the ability to make quick cuts running in between guards as well as creating explosive runs when he bounces to the outside off tackle. He has shown that he is capable of being an every down back.
Spartan fans have seen this kind of production from a transfer running back in the Tucker era before, with Kenneth Walker III’s Doak Award winning year in 2021. Similar to the current Seahawk, Carter has gotten off to a very fast start in his MSU career, scoring four times in two games. It remains to be seen if he can manipulate the production from the second round pick in 2022, but it seems that he has proved himself to be the go-to-guy in the backfield for the games to come.
The Spartans will need these sort of numbers in order to stay competitive with a very tough schedule coming up, especially with a rematch of a tone setting loss in 2022 with No. 8 Washington next Saturday in East Lansing on national television.