Michigan State had two stars of its secondary to replace heading into the 2014 season. With junior R.J. Williamson set to step in at strong safety, the Spartans looked to continue stellar secondary play.
"I think Montae Nicholson is playing pretty well, he's got a lot of ability and we sort of are going back and forth with those two guys," Dantonio said. "I think R.J. has an opportunity to make plays and makes plays, made a great play last week, but out there in the secondary you've got to tackle, you've got to play the ball, you've got to be able to change direction and run."
Michigan State allowed just 14 points a week after giving up the same total to Eastern Michigan, but it was the nature of the touchdowns that was troublesome. On Saturday, the Cowboys first score came on a run up the middle as running back Shaun Wick ran over Williamson on his way to a 57-yard touchdown.
Williamson said he made the mistake of stopping his feet in anticipation of a possible cutback by Wick.
“It’s frustrating,” Williamson said. “Started the game out pretty strong and made some good tackles, but missed that one and it kind of went downhill from there.”
On the next drive for Wyoming, Wick again bowled over Williamson on his way to a 21-yard run and Nicholson entered.
”I was more upset with myself than anything,” Williamson said. “I wasn’t mad at the coaches for pulling me out or anything because I knew I would get a chance to get back in.”
He did re-enter the game, but not before a bit of encouragement from fellow safety Kurtis Drummond, who told him it happens.
”I miss tackles still,” Drummond said. “Guys are missing tackles in the NFL. It just happens. It’s part of the game.
”It’s just keeping your confidence and knowing that there’s still plays out there to be made and there is nothing to do about it to get it back other than just make more plays.”
Drummond said he is not worried about Williamson moving forward into conference play against Nebraska next Saturday night.
Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi echoed those sentiments, saying he is not disappointed at all in the play of his safeties.
”I really feel good with where Kurtis is and R.J.,” Narduzzi said.
Dantonio also offered his vote of confidence after the game.
”We wouldn’t be playing him if he wasn’t a good player,” he said. “I promise you that. R.J.’s a good football player, he’s played for us for three years and he knows what’s going on.”
Now, Williamson says he will buckle down on his focus heading into Big Ten play and facing Ameer Abdullah and Nebraska.
”I’ve gotta focus in on this week going into next week playing a good running back in Abdullah and Nebraska and that offensive line, just gotta focus in and focus in on my target and get the man down at all costs,” he said.