Saturday, March 2, 2024

Sports | Football

FOOTBALL

Comeback spurs win

MSU attacked from every angle Saturday against Rutgers, but despite putting up 44 points, the victory was anything but easy. It took the Spartans almost 28 minutes to grab the lead from the Scarlet Knights, who opened up the scoring early with a 65-yard passing touchdown just two-and-a-half minutes into the game. Head coach John L.

FOOTBALL

Hayes shines with touchdowns

While most receivers contemplate their next move as they snatch the ball out of the air, Jaren Hayes is just praying he'll catch it. Perhaps Hayes' new style of play was inspired by his team's new nickname Saturday, for he was lining up for the Aggies, not the Spartans. Or maybe it was the chance to shine after starting running back Tyrell Dortch left the game in the second quarter because of a sprained ankle. But ask Hayes and he'll tell you he doesn't care where he played, or even how, just as long as the team, Aggies or Spartans, won. "In the first touchdown I scored, I was just praying that I was going to catch the ball and try and get some yards.

FOOTBALL

Knott injured

Junior tight end Eric Knott is listed as questionable for the upcoming Rutgers football game after an MRI revealed Tuesday that he had sprained a knee, MSU assistant athletic director John Lewandowski said.

FOOTBALL

Defensive line proving worth

They might have begun as a question mark, but by the time the game was over, they were the heroes.The MSU defensive line shut down Western Michigan's offensive star and abused its quarterback.

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Spartans will be Aggies in 1000th game

Throwback jerseys are in, so the MSU football team decided to take the fad one step further - with a throwback name.In honor of the school's 1,000th football game, the Spartans will go incognito, removing the logos from their helmets and going by the name Aggies on the scoreboard, Sports Information Director John Lewandowski said.

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Triumphant return

His leg might have been broken, but his love for the game was not.Tyrell Dortch, filled with energy and anticipation and nearly two years removed from the last time he saw game action on the Spartan Stadium grass, darted onto the field Saturday afternoon seemingly with new life.

FOOTBALL

Smoker instrumental in win

He was the quarterback and the conductor. After guiding MSU to an emotional win in his return to the Spartan offense, Smoker took his just reward, standing atop the band director's ladder and leading the remaining fans from the 27th consecutive sellout home game in a victorious rendition of the school's fight song. "It's the coolest thing I've ever done outside of Michigan a couple years ago," the senior signal caller said.

FOOTBALL

Smoker vs. critics

Should he play or should he go? Senior quarterback Jeff Smoker will walk onto the field Saturday amid many questions - the first being, should he? His coaches think the signal caller, who was suspended last season after admitting to a substance abuse problem in October 2002, should be allowed to don a Spartan uniform again. "Jeff has done everything we've asked," offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin said.

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Returning Smoker, team look to future

The swagger is gone and the expectations went with it.So is his favorite target and his pristine image.As well as the complete coaching staff, his two top running backs and his whole comfort zone.The passing records seem a forgone conclusion, but for MSU quarterback Jeff Smoker, there is so much more to prove.What's real is the nervous twitch of his eye and a no-name receiving corps that could easily let him down.As Smoker addressed reporters for the second time since being reinstated to the football team, he tried to emphasize that he was concentrating only on this week's game.When the Spartans take the field against Western Michigan at 3:40 p.m.

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Punter injures ankle; will be out one month

The MSU kicking game took a hit Tuesday when senior punter Jason Daily injured his ankle during practice. Daily, the starter last season, lost his job earlier in fall practice to redshirt freshman Brandon Fields.

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Team captains look to restore leadership

Three of last season's four football captains were benched, suspended or jailed.The 2002 captains - quarterback Jeff Smoker, center Brian Ottney, safety Thomas Wright and running back Dawan Moss - are a stark contrast to the humble disposition displayed by this year's group, a bunch of linemen and a linebacker."Last year the guys didn't follow through," senior captain Paul Harker said.

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Star power gone, offense changes

MSU will look like a very different team on offense this season. Gone are offensive stars, including All-American receiver Charles Rogers and the top two running backs Dawan Moss and David Richard.

FOOTBALL

Spartans revamp defense, want to be aggressive

A new aggressive approach on the defensive side of the ball has the MSU football team puffing up with confidence. Last year, the MSU defense that ranked 83rd overall out of 117 Division I-A teams was hard-pressed to stop the run or sack opposing quarterbacks.

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Smoker: Great to be back

It used to be a weekly routine for Jeff Smoker - talk football with reporters after practice. But in his first appearance after being reinstated Wednesday as a member of the Spartan football team, the senior signal caller seemed withdrawn and not amused with questions that circled around a substance-abuse problem that led to a suspension last season. Smoker looked so caught up in relief of being back on the squad since October that he headed for the locker room without realizing he had left behind his helmet. Nevertheless, Smoker remained willing to reprove himself and handle the attention of being a quarterback. "I learned to just move on and realized that I was responsible for things that happened last year," Smoker said.