Defense carries offense to win against WMU

Four forced turnovers and two defensive touchdowns lead Spartans as both quarterbacks struggle to move the ball in 26-13 season-opening win.

Friday night brought the 2013 season opener for Michigan State, but other than some new faces, it looked a lot like 2012.

The stout Spartan defense made plays and the offense – with two quarterbacks – struggled as MSU won 26-13 against Western Michigan.

"Basically I can just say, very disappointing for myself and us as an offensive football team," Spartans offensive coordinator Dave Warner said. "I think that's pretty obvious. Just for the fact that we put a big emphasis going all the way back to spring practice on not making mistakes as far as penalties. We wanted to catch the ball with a high percentage, which we didn't do, and creating big plays, which we didn't do.

"Very disappointed but we will show up tomorrow, go back to work with the idea of moving forward and making the corrections that needed to be made."

Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook combined to go 17 of 37 passing for 116 yards and struggled to move the ball throughout.

"I missed a couple throws tonight, and I certainly want to become more efficient," Cook said. "I ran the ball well when the opportunity was there. I got too excited when guys were wide open, so the ball sailed on me."

The wide receivers, which were praised throughout camp for making catches and plays, had six drops – three from senior Bennie Fowler. Maxwell said the blame will always fall on the quarterback, and that they won't get too discouraged.

"It's one game, so it's not like there's been a pattern of it and it certainly has gotten a lot better," he said. "We're going to keep coming back to those guys and they're going to have to make plays."

The defense, for its part, had no problem making plays to the tune of three interceptions, a fumble recovery, five sacks, nine tackles for loss and 11 pass break-ups.

The highlights, however, came from safety Kurtis Drummond and linebacker Jairus Jones – individually and collectively.

The Spartans opening score came in the first quarter on an interception from Jones, which he returned for three yards before lateraling the ball back to Drummond, who returned it 21 yards for the score.

"Jairus is just an intelligent football player," Drummond said. "He's always trying to make plays, even in last year's camp, he led the whole secondary in interceptions. He's just intelligent. He just saw me and threw me the ball and I just ran."

Drummond also made a highlight-reel, leaping one-handed interception in the second quarter.

Jones had a second interception late in the third quarter, which he also looked to lateral.

Defensive end Shilique Calhoun had the Spartans second defensive touchdown of the game after defensive end Marcus Rush forced Broncos' quarterback Zach Terrell to fumble at the WMU 16. Calhoun scooped the ball up and ran it back for the touchdown, which put MSU up 26-7.

After WMU tied the game in the second on a 14-yard pass from redshirt freshman Zach Terrell to Clark Mussman – on Terrell's first career pass after Tyler Van Tubbergen was knocked out of the game, the Spartans took the lead again right before halftime.

With 2:08 left in the half, Jeremy Langford led the Spartans down the field with three carries and a reception before scoring his first career touchdown on a 2-yard run.

The drive was aided by two penalties against Western Michigan – one pass interference and one defensive holding.

Langford finished the game with 94 yards on 20 carries, but with a fumble which was recovered by the Broncos.

Kevin Muma kicked two field goals for MSU in his first start.

The Broncos scored their second touchdown and closed the deficit to 26-13 on a 14-yard reception from Terrell to Corey Davis with 1:51 remaining the game.

The game was delayed from 9:03 until 9:59 because of lightning.

Spartan Digest Top Stories