Blowout Comes with Benefits

In terms of performance on the field, the young standout of the day had to be freshman Greg Jones, who made 7 tackles, had a sack and broke up a pass. Along with Jonathan Misch, who led the team with 9 tackles, the pair displayed the kind of play required of quality linebackers, regardless of their experience.

EAST LANSING - When backup QB Connor Dixon entered the game with 10:56 remaining in the second quarter, fans might have wondered if it was too soon to start pulling starters.

As it turned out, Mark Dantonio knew what he was doing and a Spartan squad full of second-teamers would have likely beaten UAB handily.

"(We) had an opportunity to play a lot of players throughout the second half, and got into our threes as well," Dantonio said. "We're developing some depth."

Along with a few first teamers, like RB Javon Ringer and WR Mark Dell, backups such as FB Andrew Hawken and WR Terry Love marched down the field with Dixon. At that point, the tight end rotation was going four deep, with Charlie Gantt (R Fr.) and Dwayne Holmes (Jr.) playing for top TEs Kellen Davis and Eric Andino.

The defense saw its share of young players gaining crucial game play experience as well.

Nowhere will early playing time pay higher dividends than in the interior of the defensive line. With the cushion of several touchdowns, young players such as Oren Wilson (Fr.), Antonio Jeremiah (Fr.) and junior college transfer Michael Jordan all logged significant playing time.

The stats won't reflect the quality of their play, but Wilson (1 tackle) and Jeremiah (3 tackles) had productive days nonetheless. Although UAB was reluctant to run the ball into the heart of the Spartan defense, limiting their opportunities, the pair handled the interior positions well. Wilson and Jeremiah stood up their blockers time and again, preventing them from releasing to the next level, accounting for one of the reasons 3 of the top 4 tacklers on the team were linebackers.

But in terms of performance on the field, the young standout of the day had to be freshman LB Greg Jones, who made 7 tackles, had a sack and broke up a pass. Along with Jonathan Misch, who led the team with 9 tackles, the pair displayed the kind of play required of quality linebackers: they filled holes to stuff the run, the pursued the ball at good angles preventing big plays and they dropped into coverage, sometimes splitting out to cover tight ends or extra receivers when UAB went into the spread formation.

And the performance for Jones went beyond the defense. Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi said Jones was outstanding on special teams, recording 4 tackles and flying all over the field.

"The guy was just relentless," Narduzzi said.

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