MSU wins a big one here in Pittsburgh!

September 16, 2006

Pittsburgh, PA

Heinz Field

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It was a wonderful 64 degrees at kickoff and the day started great. MSU went out for the game starting coin toss and captains from both teams were introduced to a beautiful little girl from the Children’s Hospital. When MSU was asked if they wanted heads or tails MSU captain and all around great kid Drew Stanton asked the young lady to make the call. She said “tails” and the Spartans won the toss. What a great way to start a game and yet once again, Stanton gives us another reason to be proud of him and MSU.

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MSU had there first drive end with a Stanton sack and on the punt MSU picked up a 15-yard personal foul face mask. The MSU defense however sacked Palko (Baldwin) on the ensuing play. That drive looked to stall but Coach Smeland had Demond Williams playing way off the receiver and on a third in four, Pitt got the big first down. The DB play on the entire drive was atrocious as the coaches had them playing way off the receivers. Palko and the Panthers punished them for it. MSU picked up another bad penalty with off sides and the Panthers with MSU help were able to move the ball at ease. Luckily the Panthers had a TD called back by a dumb penalty on their part and MSU had them in a third and 12 at their 22. Pitt was unable to get the first down but they did get a 32-yard field goal that gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead with 7:08 left in the first quarter. Now was the time for Smeland to make his adjustments and to see the Spartan offense work it’s magic.

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On MSU’s second drive, Drew had a nice run that was negated by another dumb penalty that was a half the distance call and that pinned the Spartans deep in their own territory but Stanton worked his magic with a super run for 20-yards and a HUGE first down.  I had talked about Drew running as a key to this game and that showed it. Stanton had a nice pass on a big second and ten that was called back with an ineligible man down field penalty so they now had a third and 15 on the 24. Out of the gun with four receivers Stanton rolled right and had to run when everyone was covered and picked up ten, but was unable to get the first down. Fields got off a good punt that put the Panthers at their own 15, and now it was time to see if Coach Smeland could make any adjustments.Â

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Well nothing did change as they cornerbacks came out 12 yards off the receivers and Pitt quickly picked up the first down and Pitt was driving. All of that was for naught however when MSU picked up a fumble.

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Stanton and MSU however were unable to do anything with it, Javon Ringer got stopped for a seven-yard loss and a perfect pass from Stanton to Scott hit him in the arms and it popped up for the Blades interception. Ball back to the Panthers in MSU territory is where they would start.

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Thanks to some terrible defense lead by Coach Smeland’s play calling, Pittsburgh marched right down the field for a touchdown. The PAT was good and with :25 left in the first quarter Pitt had a 10-0 lead.

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Pitt kicked an onside kick and recovered giving them the ball at the MSU 49. Again the MSU players did not respond well to a gutsy call by the Pitt coaching staff and they were clearly not ready. The Panthers were unable to get anywhere spending the drive looking for the home run and it wasn’t there. MSU again took over at it’s 11.

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As bad as the defensive coordinator had done with play calling, offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin was doing the polar opposite. Although MSU had had its previous drives stopped, they were not because of play calling, rather they we stopped themselves, with stupid penalties and dropped passes. Stanton led his Spartans down the field that was highlighted by the splendid play calling of Baldwin. On a big third down at the 26, Drew rolled right and hit Terry Love, however he dropped the ball for the easy TD. That brought in Swenson who hit the 43-yard field goal. Again, great play calling, but poor execution caused this drive not to succeed. The 63-yard drive however took 5:50 off the clock and gave the defense some rest. The defense played the formations called, MSU’s lack of success on defense was the opposite of the offense, and it was the coaching costing them. 8:54 left in the second quarter and it was MSU 3 and Pitt 10.

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The next drive for the Panthers was greeted by a different MSU defense. They came out playing John L. defense. They attacked and stopped the Panthers. Again this defense has the athletes and you have to call the defense that lets them show it. The cornerbacks moved up and played press coverage and on the last play, SirDarean attacked Palko with the CB’s in press coverage (moved up to the line of scrimmage) and the stopped them cold. It was great to see the adjustments and see the Spartans hold the Panthers.

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The next drive started again with a Scott dropped pass and MSU in a hole at second and ten. That was not to last for long as Jehuu Caulcrick (a key to the game) ran off a 13 yard run on a great call by Baldwin. Stanton once again took off on a nice draw/option that netted 21 and had the Spartans with a first and 10 at the Panther 49! MSU had a nice Ringer option that went for big yards but again a bad penalty killed that gain and gave them a second and twenty. They used another great run however to make it second and 5 at the Panther 30 and MSU needing a first to keep the drive alive. Stanton came through with a great route and throw to Reed and the Spartans had a first and seven at the Panther 7, and looking to tie the game. They did just that however when Stanton found Kellen Davis for a seven–yard strike and Swenson converted the PAT. With :48 left in the first half the game was all tied with the Spartans clawing their way back. At this point you had to be proud of the way the Spartans didn’t quit and stayed right in it. Â

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Hope was high as MSU didn’t do what it had normally done and quit when down. The Panthers began the half with the ball and the MSU defense took that drive personal. They played aggressive ball and gave Stanton back the ball at his own 36. When faced with a big third and five at their own 41, Stanton stood in the pocket and took a huge hit but completed the ball to Reed for a 19-yard gain and a huge Spartan first down at the Panther 40! On first down Stanton went right back at Reed for a gain of 26 and yet again the Spartans had a first and ten. The Spartans were able to score the TD on a gorgeous 2-yard TD run by the Big Guy Jehuu Caulcrick. With Swenson’s successful PAT, the Spartans took their first lead of the game with a 17-10 lead and 8:58 left in the third quarter.Â

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The Spartans held the Panthers again and gave Drew the ball and he knew what to do with it. A masterful game plan came alive as the Spartans kept the Panthers off balance and moved right down the field and finished off the drive with a 1-yard TD run by Stanton. The PAT was good by Swenson and the Spartans had the 24-10 lead with 3:50 to go in the third quarter. The Spartans drive lasted 8 plays 75 yards and 3:35 seconds.

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Again the Spartan defense took it to the Panthers and stopped them cold on a very critical drive. That gave the magician Drew Stanton the ball again at his won 17. Drew wasted no time letting the national TV audience and everyone watching here at Heinz field that he was not done for the day. He spread the ball and mixed his passes and rushes masterfully as he and Baldwin were totally in sync. The third quarter came to an end with the Spartans driving with a second and nine at the Panthers 45. The Spartans just continued in the fourth quarter what they were doing in the third and the drive ended with a 12-yard Stanton to Reed TD pass. Swenson’s PAT was good and with 13:36 in the fourth quarter MSU was up 31-10 after this beautiful 11 play, 83-yard drive that took 3:43 off of the clock.

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The game from here was really over. The final score was 38-23 but it wasn’t that close. Pitt did score twice but that was against second and third string. Overall MSU came away with a big and good win.

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Yards:Â 533Â 335 rushing 198 passing.

9 penalties for 75-yards, way too much!Â

11 of 15 on third down, this is a huge stat.

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Again the safeties led the way in tackles. Nehemiah Warrick had 8 and Otis “BLING BLING” Wiley had 8.

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GRADES

Offense:Â B they played very well but had to many dropped passes and dumb penalties.

Defense: B- played well after their adjustments. Â

Special Teams: B- 5 extra points, 1 field goal and very good punts. The coverage was not great.Â

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Coaching:

Head Coach John L. Smith:Â A

Offensive Coordinator Dave Baldwin:Â A his best effort yet at MSU.

Defensive Coordinator Chris Smeland:Â B- not a great game plan but made adjustments.

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To many dropped passes and dumb penalties.

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