Jeff Smoker Suspended, Out for UW Game

Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker has been suspended for the Wisconsin game Saturday night.


EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State junior quarterback Jeff Smoker has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, head coach Bobby Williams announced Thursday after practice.

"The decision was made after consulting with Jeff and others," Williams said. "It is for the welfare of both Jeff and this football program that this action is taken immediately."

Smoker, who started the first seven games of the 2002 season, has completed 114-of-203 throws (.562) for 1,593 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound veteran from Manheim, Pa., ranks among the Big Ten leaders in TD passes (fourth), passing yards (fifth at 227.6 yards per game) and passing efficiency (seventh with 133.4 rating). He has posted six 200-yard passing games in 2002, including a season-high 281 yards and two scores in a 21-17 loss to Notre Dame.

He needs only 122 total yards to overtake Ed Smith (1976-78) and become Michigan State's career leader in total offense. Smoker already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in pass attempts (sixth with 662), pass completions (fifth with 383), completion percentage (seventh at .579), passing yards (third with 5,537) and TD passes (fourth with 40). He has 13 career 200-yard passing games and compiled a 13-11 record in 24 career starts.

Damon Dowdell, a 6-1, 214-pound sophomore from Detroit, has been named the starting quarterback for Saturday night's home game against Wisconsin. Dowdell, who has appeared in four games in 2002, has connected on 10-of-21 passes (.476) for 108 yards, two TDs and two interceptions.

Dowdell saw action in five games as a red-shirt freshman in 2001 and completed 27-of-56 attempts (.482) for 362 yards and two scores. He made his first collegiate start at Purdue last November, with Smoker sidelined with a sprained left shoulder. Dowdell completed 24-of-45 throws for 304 yards vs. Purdue, including a 7-yard TD toss to Charles Rogers.

"I've got to be a leader for this team Saturday night," Dowdell said. "My goal is to play hard and make smart decisions with the football.

"I'm glad I got my first start out of the way last year, because I had a lot of nervousness heading into that game at Purdue."

Aaron Alexander, a 6-5, 199-pound red-shirt freshman from Richmond, Va., has been moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart at quarterback. Alexander missed the first seven games of the 2002 season after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot on Aug. 10.

"I feel comfortable with the offense," Alexander said. "It certainly helps having a veteran like Damon Dowdell in front of me. I feel confident that I can be productive if called upon Saturday night."

Michigan State (3-4 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) entertains Wisconsin (5-3, 0-3 Big Ten) Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:05 p.m. in Spartan Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

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