Michigan State football looked to a new leader of the offense in their 27-24 loss on the road to Rutgers this afternoon, but despite the loss, redshirt freshman Katin Houser didn’t disappoint in his first career start.
“We thought it was an opportunity to change it up and show what he can do,” interim head coach Harlon Barnett said. “We thought he did a really good job today. I like how he threw the ball, I thought he had command of the offense. He’s a good player, and he started to settle down as the game went on. He was making plays.”
Both teams recorded three turnovers each, but none of the three MSU turnovers came from Houser, a sign of improvement over redshirt junior Noah Kim, who threw a total of six interceptions in the five games leading up to today.
Houser started the game off slashing the Scarlet Knight’s pass defense, ending the first Spartan offensive drive of the game with a 13-yard bullet pass to senior wide receiver Montorie Foster Jr. in the end zone to take a 7-0 lead halfway in the first quarter. It was the first time this season that the Spartan’s scored on their first possession of a game.
In the next period, Houser showed off his ability to run with a 12-yard scamper to the end zone in the final two minutes of the first half.
The underclassman was able to add another touchdown to his stat line near the end of the third quarter, completing a four-yard pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Tre Mosley to give MSU an 18-point lead at that point.
Houser wasn’t perfect, throwing a couple of passes that had chances of being intercepted along with a bobbled snap that he ended up recovering for a first down, but his performance should solidify him as the starter for the foreseeable future.
“He’s gonna continue to grow and learn and become a better player than what he showed today,” Mosley said. “First start, he did a lot of good, but he had some things he could improve. He’s just gonna continue to get better every week, I’m proud of him.”
Houser finished the contest with 133 yards on top of his three total touchdowns, and most importantly, no turnovers.
“I thought I was prepared,” Houser said. “Even though it was my first start, the moments I had going all the way back to spring ball and fall camp and the couple minutes I got earlier in the season prepared me for this. The offense executed for the most part.”
His receivers and special team teammates couldn’t say the same though, coughing the ball up a total of five times and losing three of them. These turnovers ultimately cost Michigan State their second-half momentum, allowing Rutgers to spark a 21-0 run to finish the game and hand the green and white their fourth straight loss of 2023.
Houser will have to play even better than he did today if MSU wants to have a chance next Saturday against No. 2 Michigan, as the undefeated Wolverines will come to East Lansing for a rivalry matchup under the lights.