Injuries Piling Up For Depleted Spartans

The pressure nearly overwhelmed the Spartans. Pitt often brought an extra safety into the box to defend against the run. However, the Spartans failed to take advantage in the passing game as Hoyer never connected with Devin Thomas for big plays over the top as he did in the previous two games.

EAST LANSING - Offensive Coordinator Don Treadwell said Michigan State might have been slightly out-of-sync against Pitt. Perhaps he meant Brian Hoyer just had an off day, as he mentioned at his post-game press conference. Or perhaps the wide receivers weren't running crisp routes.

One thing's for certain: the offensive line, beat up with injuries, struggled but scrapped things together enough to keep the game from slipping away.

"Injuries are a concern," Spartan Head Coach Mark Dantonio said. "Offensively, we were up and down and around a little bit, but we got the job done."

Entering the Pitt game, two starters were missing from the line. Center John Masters had been out since fall camp with a bruised nerve in his leg and left tackle Mike Gyetvai has been rehabbing a surgically repaired shoulder the entire offseason.

After Pitt, right guard Roland Martin can be added to the list. In the first half Martin went down, holding an ankle. Before the end of the game he had the foot in a boot and motored around on crutches.

Rocco Cironi first replaced Martin and was later replaced by Mike Bacon. After Martin went out, Masters eventually returned to his staring position, relieving Joel Nitchman, who had done an admirable job filling in at center. That brought the number of O-line starters on the field back to three.

For the day, Hoyer was sacked six times and the running game never found its groove. Despite gaining 144 yards on the ground, with 51 attempts, the amount per rush works out to only 2.8 yards a carry.

The pressure nearly overwhelmed the Spartans. Pitt often brought an extra safety into the box to defend against the run. However, the Spartans failed to take advantage in the passing game as Hoyer never connected with Devin Thomas for big plays over the top as he did in the previous two games.

Some of the credit certainly belongs to Pitt's defense: "My hat is certainly off to the (Pitt) defense, they certainly played an outstanding game," Treadwell said.

But despite the pressure, injuries and mid-game switch at center, the Spartans protected the ball, and the victory, winning the turnover battle 3-0.

"They all count one," Dantonio said. "That's something (George Perles) used to say and I'm glad we got this one."


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