Spartans win by 10 but it was not pretty

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September 2, 2006

Spartan Stadium

East Lansing, MI

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The temperature was cool (that in itself is unique for the 1st game) and the crowd was less then impressive at 70,711 (that is paid not in the stadium) but the Spartans and the Vandals were ready to get it on at 12:10 p.m.Â

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The Spartans won the toss and took the ball and the ride began for Drew Stanton and the MSU offense. The Vandals wanted to make a point on defense and they did stopping the Spartans in a quick 1-2-3 fashion for the their first possession. Brandon Fields however showed why I voted him a pre-season All American with a huge 50-yard punt to put the Vandals at their own 20.

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The Vandals came out and showed the nation that they were not intimidated with this Big Ten venue when they drove at will and killed themselves with an illegal procedure penalty that very well could have kept them from scoring. They also showed a trade mark of Dennis Erickson coached teams from the paste when they had great special teams play that pinned the Spartans at their own 2.

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That meant nothing however as Stanton capped an 82-yard drive with a 27-yard TD pass to Kerry Reed and yes, the PAT was good by Swenson. The story of this drive however was the power of Caulcrick and the quickness of Ringer. Both were crucial in this drive. With 4:22 left in the first quarter it was the Spartans 7 and the Vandals 0.

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The Vandals wasted no time however letting the Spartan Nation know that they were not intimidated. They had a great kickoff return and marched down the field for a 49-yard field goal and a score. That made the game 7-3 MSU to end the first quarter. More importantly for the Vandals it sent a message that they made the trip from Moscow, Idaho to play some football, and for the Spartans it made a lot of people ask some questions about the defense.

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The MSU offense was unable to answer, and the Vandals had a nice drive that was highlighted by fake punt that gave them a first down, but David Herron Jr. got his first interception and that set up the Spartans at the Vandal 20. The Spartans were able to move into the end zone from there however on a 7-yard TD run from Ringer off of a great toss on the option from Stanton. Again Swenson’s PAT was good and with 6:32 left in the second quarter it was 14-3 MSU!

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Again the Vandals drove easily on MSU but the Spartans blocked a field goal attempt and drove the ball 50-yards in 5 plays and that allowed MSU to get into position for Brett Swenson to hit a 35-yard field goal and pick up a huge ovation from the crowd. With :35 seconds left in the half it was MSU 17-3!

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In the second half both teams traded opportunities but the Vandals wanted to make a statement and they did. On a beautiful 13 play drive that went 66 yards, the Vandals drove the ball down the MSU throat and went in to score on a 1-yard run. The PAT was good and with 5:05 left in the third, the Spartans still had the lead 17-10 but momentum was on the Vandals side.Â

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In the fourth quarter the Spartans moved on the Vandals. Jehuu Caulcrick had a nice 2-yard TD run and Swenson had a PAT that started the action putting the Spartans up 24-10 but the Vandals came right back. The Vandals marched right down the field on a defense we thought had improved for a 10 play 81-yard drive that gave them a TD and a successful PAT that made the score 24-17 with 9:51 left in the ball game.

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The Spartans added a late field goal by Swenson that made the final score 27-17 Spartans and that concluded game 1. Here is my breakdown:

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Coaching:

JLS- C

Offense- C

Defense- B-

Special Teams- B+ Would be an A but gave up to much on the kickoff coverage.

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Thoughts:

Otis Bling Bling Wiley whom I have been praising all spring came through huge with 12 tackles and some punishing hits ala Ronnie Lott that I could feel in the pressbox. Nehemiah Warrick also had a big day for the guys in green joining Bling Bling Wiley as the leading tacklers also with 12. Cliff Ryan is the real deal as well as Kyle Cook and they both expressed a concern about their unit’s plays. Jehuu whom I also have been hyping looked great.  He only got 12 carries but had 50 yards and was dominating. It was a win, with some concern. Certainly not a game that you worry about, but if EMU does this to us next week then let the fear flow!

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