Stanton letting "dogs" out of doghouse

All three have been in coach John L. Smith's doghouse at some point, but all three have come out to play key roles in back-to-back Big Ten wins for Michigan State.

(EAST LANSING) - Maybe they ought to play "Who Let the Dogs Out?' before every Michigan State football game. Or having they been watching the "Shawshank Redemption?"

Better yet, maybe quarterback Drew Stanton should lead a chorus of "Dogs" with flanker Agim Shabaj and tight end Eric Knott backing him up.

All three have been in coach John L. Smith's doghouse at some point, but all three have come out to play key roles in back-to-back Big Ten wins for Michigan State.

Of course, the lead dog is Stanton, who never was the choice of the coaching staff who mocked him less than classic style of quarterbacking. At some point Stanton has been referred to as a 'drunken sailor' and 'coyote ugly' by his own coaching staff.

But give the Farmington Hills Harrison standout credit, he has moxie.

Case in point, with Michigan State leading against Central Michigan and redshirt freshman Stephen Reaves, the coaches darling under center, Stanton walked up to head coach John L. Smith and did something extremely risky for a player not recruited by the current head coach.

He threatened to kick the coaches behind.

"You know, Drew Stanton came up to me today and said, `Coach, if you don't use me today, I am going to kick you in the butt.'," said Smith. "What he was doing was letting me know that he is ready, so I made an effort to play Drew because I wanted to see how he would do.

Stanton, after a one game stint for Reaves at quarterback, came in and nearly engineered a come-from-behind win against Notre Dame.

From their, despite the coaches' comments, he cemented his status as the MSU starter.

"You can play all the games you want, like they recruited [redshirt freshman quarterback] Stephen [Reaves] and didn't recruit me. They were stuck with me. I don't let that stuff bother me."

But Stanton didn't stop there. He successfully lobbied to get his former high school teammate, Agim Shabaj, who had a horrible three drop game against Notre Dame, out of the doghouse.

Shabaj responded with his best game of the season, a five catch and one touchdown performance in last week's win over Illinois.

Stanton made a point of singling out Shabaj for praise. "I think it's important for receivers to have confidence. I think having Agim (Shabaj) out there - no disrespect to our other receivers - but he is a good player and I just tried to get the ball in his hands. All our other receivers did a really good job today."

While Shabaj was injured in the win over Minnesota, the most surprising thing in that ballgame was to see senior Eric Knott, who had been completely dropped off the depth chart, not only in the playing group, but on the receiving end of two Stanton touchdown passes.

"Drew has a lot of energy and a lot of fire in him," said Knott. "He really gets everyone else going, and we look to him as a leader. Everyone feeds of the energy Drew brings. He gives us confidence in the huddle and everyone trusts him."

Then the newly released Knott, who has been criticized by some MSU observers for not practicing hard, sounded the company line.

"We work hard and practice and break teams down play by play and we are going to be ready. We showed today our offense brings a lot to the table."

Stanton accounts for 410 yards of offense, Knott catches two touchdown passes.

Is it the "Shawshank Redemption" or "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Spartans fans don't care about the tune or the title, especially if the three former "dogs" can help them get a win in Ann Arbor next Saturday.

Spartan Nation Top Stories