Penalties, penalties and more penalties were the story of the day for the Michigan State Spartan football team, as they traveled to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the newest addition of the historic rivalry and lost 17-13.
In a very tough and physical game from both sides, the Spartans were plagued by endless penalties, many from from pass interference calls on corners Darqueze Dennard and Trae Waynes. The Spartans had a total of 10 penalties for an astounding 115 total yards.
Some were questionable, some were obvious, but overall, they proved a killer for the Spartan team, which again struggled to put points on the board.
Connor Cook got the first road start of his college career and played a lot better than he has to start the season, but the team was only able to score one touchdown on the day. Questionable play calling, especially in third-down situations as well as continuous drops from the receivers, led to the Spartans only putting up 254 yards of total offense.
Cook completed 16-of-32 passes and a touchdown with help from receivers Bennie Fowler and Macgarrett Kings Jr. Fowler had three receptions for 39 yards and Kings had five receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown, the team’s only one of the day.
In the running game, the Spartans were actually effective against the tough Irish front seven. Nick Hill had 13 carries for 38 yards and a couple key third-down runs, and Jeremy Langford had 14 carries for 68 yards.
For the Spartans, they were plagued by the inability to finish drives with touchdowns. The Spartans had a couple of long, time-consuming drives only to come up short in the red zone. The Spartans also struggled with third-down conversions, only going 8-for-18 on the day.
The Spartan coaching staff will surely be in question after the game for a couple questionable calls. The third-down play calling was very, very bad all day long. The staff also called for a halfback pass from true freshman R.J. Shelton, a questionable call on the road that ultimately led to an interception.
Even more confusing was the personnel decisions at the end of the game for the Spartans. Cook appeared to injure his hand, and on the final drive, senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell entered. The team went four-and-out and the game was over, but Cook appeared to be fine as well as extremely frustrated on the sidelines.
Bringing in a quarterback who is ice cold and asking him to lead the team on a game-winning drive at Notre Dame is an extremely difficult task, especially when Cook was playing above-average all day long.
The team has a bye week this week, so expect them to do some serious searching and try to figure out just what is going on with this offense, because if they don’t, it’s going to be a very long season for the Spartans.