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September 5, 2013

Michigan State: Tough defense, QB questions

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TEAM: Michigan State University

LOCATION: East Lansing, MI

NICKNAME: Spartans

2012 RECORD: 7-6 (3-5)

CONFERENCE: Big Ten

HEAD COACH: Mark Dantonio (52-28 at Michigan State, -7 yrs: 70-45 overall)

KICKOFF: 12:04 PM ET Saturday, September 7 at Spartan Stadium (75,000)

After a dismal performance in its home opener, the USF Bulls head to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the 1-0 Michigan State Spartans.

This is the first meeting of the two schools, but the second trip to Big 10 Country for head coach Willie Taggart. Taggart's Western Kentucky team lost to Indiana 49-10 in 2010.

The Bulls will be taking their second trip to a Big 10 campus, falling to Penn State 23-13 in 2005.

Michigan State is coming off a 26-13 win at home over Western Michigan. The Spartan defense scored twice and set up a field goal, as the offense struggled to find its identity - according to Spartan Mag - Powered by Rivals.com

The 2013 Spartans

Michigan State returns 9 offensive and seven defensive starters from last year's team - and struggled mightily offensively against the Broncos.

QB Andrew Maxwell threw for 74 yards on 11-of-21 passing. He had zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Maxwell split time with Connor Cook who managed a paltry 6-of-16 for 42 yards.

Maxwell was the starter last year and threw for 2606 yards and 13 touchdowns, but had 9 interceptions.

Offensively, the Spartans scored once - when RB Jeremy Langford (20 carries, 94 yards) plunged in from 2 yards out in the third quarter - making it a two-score game at 19-7.

Michigan State racked up 189 yards rushing and held Western Michigan to just 11 net yards on the ground.

Head coach Mark Dantonio was very candid about his offense's struggles last week.

"We need more explosive plays, and I think that's what you saw on the sideline and that's what you saw on the film after the fact," Dantonio said. "id you catch the ball more consistently? We need to be more multi dimensional. Some of that is structure. Some of that is execution. But we can play better. I know that we can play better. We've played better in the past and we look forward to our next opportunities."

In fact, Dantonio wanted to talk about his defense more so than the ongoing quarterback quandary. "Our defense played outstanding. You felt energy on the field throughout the game. You felt like they were going to go out and get a stop. And disappointed in our twos at the end of the game allowing a drive, but I think our defense played outstanding and came away with two scores, four turnovers, numerous sacks, limited amount of rushing, tackled very well, played hard. "

Defensively, the Spartans are returning 7 starters from last year, including senior MLB Max Bullough and fifth-year senior NT Micajah Reynolds (6-foot-5, 307). DT Tyler Hoover (6-foot-7, 290, Sr.) DE's Marcus Rush(6-foot-2, 245 Jr.) and Shilique Calhoun (6-foot-4, 250 soph) anchor a front line that was relentless against the run game last week. Rush had two sacks and Hoover had one. Calhoun returned a fumble 16 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.

In the secondary, Jairus Jones (6-foot-1, 215 fifth-year senior) had two interceptions and Kurtis Drummond had a pick-six (21 yards) to start the scoring for the Spartans.

News and Notes

Jairus Jones was a Rivals three-star ATH from Tampa (Fla.) Wharton in 2009...He did not receive an offer from USF and chose the Spartans ... he faced off against Ryne Giddins that year, with Giddens' Armwood Hawks winning 49-0... Michigan State is 17-2 at home against non-conference foes under Dantonio... Dantonio is 2-1 against South Florida, all coming while at Cincinnati.


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