By: Andrew Mouranie
September 10, 2006
After last weekâ€™s lackluster performance against the Vandals of Idaho, the Michigan State Spartans had plenty to prove in their second game of the season on Saturday against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The Eagles, coming off an opening week 38-20 loss to Ball State, seemed to be a prime opponent for the Spartans to regain their form just in time for the â€œrealâ€ season to begin next weekend when they travel to the undefeated Pittsburgh Panthers. For the most part, State looked significantly better in dismantling EMU 52-20. Once Eastern went three and out on their first offensive possession, I figured the high-powered State attack would run up and down the field on the overmatched Eagle defense. However, on Stateâ€™s first offensive play from scrimmage, all-everything QB Drew Stanton threw an uncharacteristic interception, which led to an EMU field goal. From my perspective, that field goal by EMU seemed to wake up the entire Spartan team. State would go on to score 24 unanswered points and put themselves into complete control of the football game. For the first time this season, both sides of the ball for MSU were playing up to their lofty expectations. All was dandy until two tricks plays by Eastern closed the gap to 24-17 just before halftime. Yeah, the plays were clever (I loved the on-side kick), but in my opinion, State just lost their concentration and focus. They figured the game (or at least the half) was over and simply allowed the Eagles to get back in the game. â€˜When Eastern scored those two quick touchdowns, we took it upon ourselves and said that we cannot allow those plays to happen.â€ Said senior linebacker David Herron Jr. I would of loved to be a fly on the wall in the MSU locker room at halftime where Iâ€™m sure coach John â€œLansingâ€ Smith gave his team quite the tongue-lashing. But whatever he said seemed to work. Other than fumbling the opening kick-off of the second half that led to another EMU FG, State dominated the last 30 minutes of Saturdayâ€™s contest. The offense did what they were supposed to do (heck, they accumulated almost 600 yards) but I was more impressed with the defense. Finally, I was seeing some justification to Coach Smithâ€™s praise of the improvement in his highly scrutinized unit. I guess I was not the only one with that assessment. â€œI feel good about what we accomplished. I think the defense is really coming together,â€ said junior defensive end Justin Kershaw Jr. â€œI think that there is a lot of work to do, especially for me. Personally, I have to make more plays. Overall, I think we are improvingâ€ My three stars of the game are as followed: Matt Trannon, WR, MSU: Set a Michigan State single-game reception record with 14 catches. He broke the previous record of 13 grabs set by Plaxico Burress in the 2000 Florida Citrus Bowl against the Florida Gators. Trannon finished the day with 151 yards receiving and 2TDs and even pulled his best Drew Stanton impersonation by throwing a 35-yard TD pass to RB A.J. Jimmerson in the second quarter. Otis Wiley, S, MSU: Led the team in tackles for the second consecutive week with eight, including two for loss. Throughout the first two games, Wiley has been Stateâ€™s most consistent and dominating player. Drew Stanton, QB, MSU: Accounted for 287 total yards (254 passing and 33 rushing) and five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing). In the second quarter, Stanton passed the 5,000-yard career passing milestone and by the end of the game moved up to fifth on the MSU all-time career passing list. Overall, this thrashing of EMU by Michigan State was much more promising than last weekendâ€™s victory over Idaho. However, as I said earlier, the â€œrealâ€ season begins next Saturday when our beloved Spartans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers. Kick-off is set for 12:00 p.m. Until next timeâ€¦Go Green! Go White!