"The week earlier in the Pitt game, we came out and we wanted to win and we handled the situation. We didn't do that in this situation. We actually wanted to win and we didn't get it done," said Smith.
What exactly went wrong?
"We have to do a better job of [play] calling, we have to do a better job of executing and we can't shoot ourselves in the foot when we get into a situation where we have the game under control. We have to toughen up and make sure we execute better and run it to win," he said.
Critics wonder why Michigan State went away from the power running attack of Jehuu Caulcrick late in the football game. Caulcrick himself said he was "surprised" that he wasn't used with the game on the line.
The junior from Clymer, NY consistently gashed the Irish defense and many felt MSU should have - even with nine defenders in the box - lined up two tight ends and pounded the ball. With six minutes left, even if MSU punted on three-and-outs it is unlikely Notre Dame would have been able to pull out the contest.
"What you'd love to do," explained Smith, "is when you're running the ball downhill, you'd like to have Jehuu running the ball downhill. When you're running the ball perimeter-wise, you'd like to have Ringer doing that."
"Should we have probably used Jehuu more? Yes, but at that point, late on, too, there nine guys in there and they're coming with pressure and we're not totally convinced we're going to run the ball down there. We're going to have to take it outside a little."
Smith's logic seems a little faulty since Notre Dame came into the contest averaging over 160 yards rushing allowed per game and the Spartans had run it well against them all game long.
Factoring in the conditions - most of the game was played in a driving rain storm - it appears playing 'smash-mouth' football would have been the right call.
Instead, offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin called for Stanton to take the ball to the perimeter on an option look. When Notre Dame elected to cover Ringer on the pitch, Stanton kept and had the ball stripped away by Chinedum Ndukwe which led to a Notre Dame touchdown.
On their next possession, rather than run at the Irish, Baldwin again called for a rollout pass play to get away from the Irish rush, but Stanton threw a deflating interception that was returned for a touchdown and killed all of the Spartans hard fought effort.
While hindsight is always 20-20, expect Smith to take more of a hands-on approach if the Spartans find themselves in a similar situation in the future.