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Sean Merriman gives us his take on the MSU vs. Idaho game

Spartans Hold off Vandals in Shaky Home Opener 

By: Sean Merriman 

September 2, 2006 

The talk on campus entering Saturday’s showdown between the Michigan State Spartans and the visiting Idaho Vandals was that the game would serve as a good warm-up for John L. Smith’s club. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer and running back AJ Jimmerson, as well as others, were expected to see extended minuets once the Spartans built a significant lead. That lead never reached more then fourteen points as the Vandal’s managed to keep the game within striking distance before MSU was able to pull away with a 27-17 victory. 

The Spartan’s were led by the play of senior quarterback Drew Stanton. Although Stanton did not fill up the stat sheet like he normally would, the pre-season All-American played mistake free football, which was just enough to lead the Spartans to victory. Stanton threw for 225 yards and one touchdown and also picked up another 55 yards on the ground. Most Importantly, Stanton played like a true leader despite the team’s struggles. 

“Our goal every week is to come out and win the game and we accomplished that,” said Stanton. 

The Spartans also accomplished finding improvement in their kicking game after a dismal performance throughout last year. Freshman Brett Swanson connected on two of three attempts, including a 23-yard field goal that sealed the game for the Spartans. “He’s very mature for a kicker coming out of high school,” said senior captain Clifton Ryan. “That’s just the way he is.” 

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While Michigan State did manage to gain an impressive 400 total yards on offence, the Spartans also let up 268 yards of offence to a program that has struggled mightily to win games over the past six years. 

The Spartan defense, which was praised for their improvement this off season, gave up 113 yards and failed to stop the Vandal’s rushing attack on key third down plays. Sophomore Jayson Bird led Idaho with 88 rushing yards of his own and scored the only points in the third quarter on a one-yard TD burst up the middle. 

“That wasn’t our best showing,” said senior linebacker Davis Herron Jr. “We can be better then what we showed today.” 

The Spartans did show promise in their pass defense however, holding the Vandals to just 155 yards in the air and forcing two sacks and an interception. The Spartans need to improve on their run defense and control the game offensively which we know they are certainly capable of doing. 

The Spartans host the Eagles of Eastern Michigan next Saturday at 3:30 PM.