Enough already: Stanton is #1; MSU 30 - Indiana 20

Michigan State coach John L. Smith needs to stop hedging and give sophomore quarterback Drew Stanton his full support. Instead of being solidly behind Stanton after his come-from-behind win over Indiana, Smith says someone needs to "step up and beat him out."

(EAST LANSING) - OK, John L. Smith wanted to give redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Reaves a chance to be the starting quarterback. Reaves didn't get it done. He gave fifth-year senior Damon Dowdell a shot. He didn't get it done.

So enough already. It's time to turn the reigns over to Drew Stanton. The sophomore quarterback showed he was ready to take the keys when he led a furious MSU comeback to overtake the Indiana Hoosiers in a 30-20 win to give MSU a 1-0 start in the Big Ten.

Down 20-7, Stanton led MSU to 23 unanswered points, stunning the Hoosiers crowd and spoiling the home opener. Stanton was Michigan State's leading rusher and passer, running 12 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns, while completing 15-of-23 passes for 172 yards, overcoming two interceptions in the process.

The sophomore's crucial plunge on fourth-and-one, turned momentum in Michigan State's favor for good, pullling the Spartans to within 20-14 at the time.

Stanton says running with the football is something he did by design."It was just something we thought would be there," Stanton said. "Our receivers were making blocks downfield. We felt we could use it to our advantage."

Some have criticized Stanton for running with the football more successfully than he passes it, but he shrugged off the criticism.

"I want to win ballgames, I don't care what it takes," he said. "If I have to run this many times, if I have run more, I don't care. The way you measure a quarterback is getting a win. And today we got one."

But that doesn't seem to matter to Smith, who wants to keep the endless quarterback revolving door spinning. Smith says that Stanton isn't his best passer, but his ability to run is what separates him from the competition.

"The reason Drew's in there as the No. 1 right now is because that's (his running ability) an added thing (opponents) have to defend for and he gives us," Smith said. "If you went strictly on Drew throwing the football, no. But you add his ability to run, and now you're putting the package together. What we try to do is build on his strengths."

Not exactly a rining endorsement for a quarterback who's put more points on the board than the rest of the competition combined.

If you ask the players, they appear ready to rally around Stanton as the guy who can make the MSU offense go...with his legs or his arm. "I think teams are going to have a lot of trouble with our option," said junior running back Jason Teague. "The way Drew can run is just another threat, and that opens up the passing and the running game."

And what does Smith say about that?

"Somebody is really going to have to step up to beat him out," Smith said, "or he's going to have to play so darn bad we put somebody else in there."

Perhaps Smith ought to give some more attention to questionable decisions being made by the his coaching staff. MSU attempted to have their defensive unit make the play calls based on a play sheet printed on armbands. It failed miserably as Indiana piled up a 20-7 lead. After the half, MSU scrapped the armbands and returned to signaling the plays.

"In the first half, guys got mixed up a little bit with the different calls," said linebacker Ron Stanley. "After we started signaling the calls in, everyone was on the same page and we executed better."

Why would MSU attempt something different in the Big Ten opener is a question worth answering.

For now, Stanton answered all the questions at quarterback. Until someone "steps up to beat him out", that is.


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