Smith must have wondered about all the seeming paranoia surrounding the Michigan State football team. Well remember last season? MSU went into their third football game as heavy favorites over a Cal team with a decent quarterback sporting a 2-0 record.
That guy's name was Kyle Boller. Now the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, Boller propelled the upstart Bears to a blowout 46-22 win in East Lansing. MSU tumbled to just two more wins the rest of the season. Head Coach Bobby Williams was fired and the search for his successor began.
As Yogi Berra used to say "it's deja-vu all over again."
Louisiana Tech's stunning last-second win, scoring 13 points in less than two minutes including the game winner with just :02 remaining, sent shockwaves through East Lansing.
"All I was thinking was, `Make a good throw and make a good catch,"' McCown said. "Whatever happens after that is going to happen."
What happened was an 11-yard TD pass to D.J. Curry for the 20-19 win.
Making matters worse, MSU lost senior quarterback Jeff Smoker for the foreseeable future with a possible broken toe and bruised ribs. Smoker's replacement, Damon Dowdell failed to move the team in his absence and the team must now travel into the hornet's den in South Bend to play an incensed Notre Dame team that was pummeled 38-0 by Michigan.
Can things get any worse?
"I've been through enough of these," said Smith. "I've been shocked more than once. You never get used to them. It really hurts. It had better hurt us, as a football team. It should hurt every individual in that room. If it doesn't hurt...well then, we shouldn't be in that room."
Smith's first task is not to lose the effort and the desire that MSU brought in their first two games. The team has said, to a man, that this isn't the same old MSU team. They repeatedly claimed it isn't the MSU of a year ago.
Now they'll have to prove it.
"It's not the first time and it's definitely not the last time, for any of us. That's what I tried to tell our football team. This is only part of it, gentlemen. We've got to learn and we've got to come to work tomorrow with a more determined effort to do things right, every day on the practice field."
Smith's second task is to find a quarterback who can get the team in the end zone in the absence of Smoker. If Smoker can't go Saturday in South Bend, does Smith go with Damon Dowdell, who went 7-for-11 for 54 yards but just two field goals or is it heralded red-shirt freshman Drew Stanton, who nearly beat out Dowdell and Smoker for the job in spring practice?
With an angry Notre Dame team on the horizon and the start of Big Ten play not far behind, Smith needs results and he needs them now.