MSU football: Quick thoughts on 28-24 loss to Nebraska

Taylor Martinez threw the pass. Darqueze Dennard threw his hand at the ball to break it up. The referee threw the flag. And Mark Dantonio threw his arms in disgust. That sums up the final pass interference call and another in a season of bad breaks against snake-bitten MSU.

That penalty and the personal foul call on Johnny Adams, negating Dennard’s potential game-sealing 96-yard interception-for-a-TD, will be two of the most controversial and dissected moments from the Spartans’ 28-24 loss to Nebraska.

Gerry Dinardo on the Big Ten Network said this about those two plays: “The officials had a lot to do with the outcome of this game.” But they were two of nine penalties for 100 yards against the Spartans, which MSU coach Dantonio pointed to as a defining problem in the game.

Here’s Rexrode’s game story and notes from Saturday’s game, which sent MSU to 5-5 and 2-4 in the Big Ten as the Spartans head into their bye week. Those conference losses are by a combined total of 10 points. Graham Couch looks at the emotional stomach punch of yet another close loss and grades the Spartans’ performance.

Here are a few of my random thoughts after watching back a bit of the game and some of those key moments:

* JOHNNY ADAMS PERSONAL FOUL: If you think Nebraska WR Kenny Bell couldn’t  have caught up to Dennard and was too far out of the play, you’re wrong. In fact, Bell chased down and tackled the MSU cornerback on Dennard’s first interception of game, so he most certainly showed he was capable of coming from across the field to make a play as a defender after a turnover. Also, teammate Adams – after what appeared to be a clean block against Bell on replays – eventually raced side-by-side with Dennard into the end zone. I don’t believe there would have been a flag if that was a tight end throwing a similar block on a defensive back after a wide receiver catch-and-run in a similar situation.

Said MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi: “Talk about taking it out of the kid’s hands and putting it into someone else’s. It was a heck of a return by Darqueze. We said we were going to score today and we thought we did. We got late flags 25 yards from the ball. We will see it. I don’t know what the problem was, but I guess you are not allowed to block on defense. You can only block on offense.

“Players play. Coaches coach. Officials try to officiate the best they can. I guess they saw it that way. From the booth, I didn’t see it that way.”

* ON DENNARD PASS INTERFERENCE CALL: The referee made blind call from behind the play. Inexcusable. No other officials with a better view called it, and they didn’t step in to overrule it as they did when Adams attempted a soccer flop late in the first half, drew a flag, then saw it picked up after a discussion.

On the play, Dennard had firmly established inside position and wasn’t using his hands to bump and push receiver Bell. Bell actually tried to slip his arm under and through Dennard’s, the only hand-to-hand contact on the play, and the ref threw the flag a second later.

“The interference call, you guys make the call,” Dantonio said. “Everybody will make the call on that one.”

* ON TAYLOR MARTINEZ: Played exceptional, with both his arms and legs. On his second touchdown run, he exploded through the MSU defense and left Marcus Rush, Denicos Allen, Max Bullough and Isaiah Lewis all on the ground after missing attempts at dive tackles that weren’t even close. That’s a defensive end, two linebackers and a safety.

Narduzzi said Martinez is faster than Michigan’s Denard Robinson. The QB finished with 205 yards rushing, but don’t discount the plays Martinez made via the pass – a significant area of improvement for the senior this season. He kept drives alive and had a pair of TDs among his 160 yards passing.

* ON THE KURTIS DRUMMOND PENALTY: MSU’s free safety zoomed up from the secondary as Martinez appeared to be tucking the ball to run. He instead pulled it back and lobbed an incompletion, getting rid of the ball just as Drummond hit him with a squared-up hit on their shoulder pads. But, again, a referee obscured from the play threw the flag for a personal foul as Martinez’s head snapped from the force of the collision.

The call was labeled “a high hit” when the penalty was announced, but not a helmet-to-helmet or hands-to-the-face call. Regardless, the ref who threw the flag was not in position to make that call. But Dantonio admitted that his players should know better, especially with how crews around the country have erred on the side of safety when making those decisions.

“You know, I’ve said this in here before: Everybody’s trying to do the very best they can do out there. I don’t think anybody’s out for Michigan State, I don’t think anyone’s out for Nebraska. It’s an instinctive game and it’s instinctive for officials, too,” Dantonio said. “So all I can tell you is the guy running up there to make the hit (Drummond) should have been in coverage. He should have been back there 15 yards away. He had no business being up there on a quarterback sack. So, unforced error on our part.”

* ON MSU’S OFFENSE: The Spartans managed just 26 total yards and only one first down on their final 11 plays after taking a 24-14 lead to start the final period. There were two three-and-outs in there in which MSU gained just 5 yards on the first and none on the second. They were forced to punt three times, which prompted junior WR Bennie Fowler to say after the game that they “weren’t able to finish the game.”

“We had an opportunity to run the clock out, and they stopped us there and we punted the ball,” Fowler said. “We finished about 95 percent of the time. We still had opportunities where we should have finished more.”

* ON MSU’S CROWD: Dantonio was asked about his Facebook post that pleaded for MSU fans to show up for the game and whether he “was pleased with the turnout.”

“I was pleased with the crowd,” he said, pausing for a split second and adding for emphasis, “the enthusiasm of the crowd.”

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65 Responses to MSU football: Quick thoughts on 28-24 loss to Nebraska

  1. avatar Greenjax says:

    The penalties were terrible. What really cost us the game, in my opinion, were two things. The offense’s conservative play calling late in the game when all we needed was one more first down was the first. Which I believe cost us about 3 other games this year. The second was abandoning the pressure defense that worked so well on Nebraska’s passing throughout the game and going to the prevent defense. Martinez had time to throw.

    • avatar MayoSpartan says:

      Spot on assessment… no faith in the offensive line while Bell gains 150+ yards or in Maxwell to throw a bubble screen on 1st or 2nd down when every opponent had 8-9 in the box. The defense going into a zone pass defense when MSU had shit down the Huskers in the 2nd half left me with the feeling this loss was the WORST since ’09 Halloween.

  2. avatar MGoBlow says:

    Jimmy 5 & IBleedGreen,
    From yesterday’s post – Voting is a right that I will exercise on Tuesday – luckily, we have a very large tent @ MSU for a diverse set of views including about our beloved & beleagered football team which makes us a stronger fanbase. U are zero sum gain folks which is OK & U are entitled to believe the earth is flat when it comes to MSU football, but please take your political prognosticating somewhere else. This is a blog about MSU’s athletic programs & the byproduct of that is the billions of dollars that MSU makes off those programs which creates paying jobs for people like Chris & Brian @ LSJ. Save your weak character assisnations for the Walmarts who troll this blog.

    • avatar behind the green curtain says:

      From someone who used to be an employee, follow the hogs son, adopt the hogs. If the hogs go 6-6 and go to a bowl than you have a new team. If the hogs pick up loss #7 than you will never hear from me again.


      • avatar MGoBlow says:

        R your checks being garnished?

        • avatar behind the green curtain says:

          They will be son, I get to keep $1900 a month for living expenses. See I am a working man just like you son, so get behind them thar hogs ya hear!!!!

          • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

            That double wide is fading from view as will the 1900 a month on 1/1/13. JLS, humility was never a strong point although the aw, gosh, shucks mannerisms (along with the silly smile comments that make you look like a 6 year old) were so obviously fake that when you thought the world was laughing with, they were laughing AT YOU.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Off topic to Jimmy 5. My response to you if I could manufacture 40 thousand ballots in NE Ohio from deceased individual, get away with and steal this election from you anonymously I would deny it to your face and chuckle about to my grave, and Jimmy my friend there are billionaire Spartans who feel the same way. Good luck finding them

      Who do you think you are, quicken loans

      • avatar Jimmy5 says:

        Wow struck a cord with the political comment. Receiving a barrage of comments about a few posts. I merely supported coach D. We have had some bad breaks this year and people want his head. This team is young and seems to be improving.

    • avatar IBleedGreen says:

      Yeah, I’m not sure who brought in the political yesterday, but it certainly wasn’t me. Jimmy 5 needs to learn to check that at the door because this is a place to discuss things MSU sports.

      My +1000 was aimed at Spartan 81′s comments and not Jimmy 5′s. Sadly, the board instered his comment before mine.

      I enjoyed our brief conversation yesterday as I don’t have many opportunities to talk MSU sports with people out here in Los Angeles. No character assassination attempts from me. One of the great things about this place is that we don’t have to agree on every point, but at the end of the day, we know that we all love MSU athletics…well, except maybe for the occasional troll that has nothing better to do with their time.

      So, please do forgive any misunderstanding as I do not endorse Jimmy 5′s comments in any way, shape, or form.

      • avatar Jimmy5 says:

        Not looking for endorsement or support . I’m a frustrated Spartan fan like everyone else. I hate to read all the bashing and finger pointing. Does anyone really believe this team isn’t playing their a%#^es off? I’m also tired of all of the analogies to business . Sometimes the bottom line can’t be measured solely based on success.
        Read and support spartan81s comment. Says it all to me

      • avatar MGoBlow says:

        Sorry for adding U to my post above – I thought the +1000 was for Jimmy5′s off base remarks.

        • avatar Jimmy5 says:

          Truth hurts buddy , you can’t deny a word of it!

          • avatar MGoBlow says:

            Seriously – get over yourself. If you were any kind of man – U would apologize & move on. But I think U should read the posts that were directed towards U by others after your juvenile post showing off your intolerance & your myopic world view. Please read Breadtruck86 & Spartan81 replies to your stupidity – they said it better than I ever could. I love people like U that profess to be open to all points of view . . . as long as they are the same as yours & if not – shout them down – well done, hypocrite. Who U vote for or who I vote for – is between the voter & the ballot box, but I guess that’s not good enough for the thought police like U – like I said & others agreed – U made an arse of yourself – deal w/ it & move on. BTW – U posted @ 2:34am on a Sunday night – Insomnia? Nothing pressing on Monday morning? Do U need any help? MSU has great career placement, mental health, & continuing education services for all alumni if they need it.

  3. avatar glenn varlesi says:

    officials are “ruining the game of football.” there should be a system where a “consensus of opinion” is necessary from the officials crew on all personal foul and pass interference penalties. Video review can be included if necessary to render a final decision. Too many games are being decided by these types of penalties.

  4. avatar 1/2 FULL says:

    Chris, great observations. What DiNardo said (about both penalties, Adams and Dennard’s) is as close as a studio announcer will come to saying “That was a bad call by the official.”

    That said, the coaches HAVE to know that Bill LeMonnier and his crew are prone to calling the penalties they called. They have to warn players to not even give the refs a chance to make those calls; especially that crew. The shame of it is Dennard did absolutely nothing illegal on the Pass Interference call. That is exactly how you coach it. He didn’t use his hands to interfere with the WR and turned to play the ball. Not calling the penalty would not have meant MSU wins, I assume Nebraska would have converted the FG. Either team could have won in OT. We could have still stopped them but the penalty certainly gave them the additional opportunities they needed to convert the TD.

    Another tough play in a season filled with them. Right now the margin for error is so thin with this team that a bad call has a greater chance of turning a game.

  5. avatar SPARTY92 says:

    The penalities are a Spartan Tradition. Back to Perles, John L., etc. Undisciplined, immature, cheapshots or thug like…take whatever word best describes them. They have haunted our football program for decades. Not sure why, but we would average 1, maybe 2 wins more a year if our players knew what playing smart football is all about. Come on, how many times can you recall when the play is over & then the flags fly for unsportsmanlike, late hit, illegal block, etc., etc. We are our own worst enemy.
    Lastly, is it me or is the fact Treadwell is no longer around really starting to show on Dantonio? Some would say on the play calling, maybe. Yet, for sure, there are obvious HEAD coaching errors going on. Yesterday, wasting away 20 or 25 seconds before using a timeout before half & the debacle a few weeks ago when Dantonio let the clock run out, foolishly thinking he had time to get the field goal unit on instead of spiking the ball. This season is over…can’t wait for Ramstein!


  6. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Go Green , I still support this team, get to a bowl and we reload next year. The universe now is Northwestern, big game Senior Day bowl eligibility on the line. I have faith in Dantonio to come through.

  7. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    Chris, not sure why the hit on Agent 86 late in the game that had the talking heads concerned wasn’t a high hit. If it’s good for the goose, obviously not good for the gander.

    • avatar SpartanGeoff71 says:

      Yeah, I was really ticked about that. Crown of the helmet to the side of the helmet. Should have been called.

  8. avatar GoSt8Go says:

    Coach Dantonio has often spoke of responding to adversity. So they find themselves at that crossroads once again when it seems like they have been there so often this season. They will find their way. This seed was scattered on good soil.

  9. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports

    Boy is this guy a HACK,

    he uses the NON-CALL against Cob’s Bell for roughing Adams as an example of the Cobs getting some bad calls, too. He cuts the video so that the NON-CALL is not shown on the website. As one guy commented, if your going to write about the game at least watch the game. I’d say altering FACTS is more egregious, but yellow journalism is everywhere. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports, must be a MAC level writer like Cracker, which just goes to prove that Gannett doesn’t shy away from hiring MAC level writers at all their outlets; so good for them, even the unskilled need to eat.

    • avatar '89 Chemistry says:

      Yeah, that clip was a big waste of internet media.

      He mentioned a Stafford late hit. Was that the out-of-bounds call after Maxwell’s run late in the 3rd? It’s definitely fair to say that was a bad call changing a 3rd & 7 to a 1st & 3–and reasonable to argue that it netted MSU four unearned points.

      And as Solari Tweeted, Kyler Reed was pushed out of the end zone on the play before the final TD. If the refs were consciously one-sided, they’d have called that, too. [I think they were merely incompetent & flag-happy.]

      Overall, UNL had a few more penalty yards than MSU. For me, the difference is that last year–when the calls were grossly one-sided v. UM–MSU was able to overcome the flags and get in a position where one or two more flags wouldn’t change the outcome. This year–especially with three free safeties out with injuries at crunch time–there was no margin for capricious events.

      – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -
      Le’veon Bell losing his cool was not cool–and there were other Spartan players not in the article with Tweets as bad or worse than his. A Twitter ban might solve part of the problem, but what would be more productive, imo, is for someone trusted by the players to provide tips on media-silent (or at least anonymous) ways of venting outrage.

  10. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    If anyone ever accuses the Left Coast-12 of playing D, the big game last night had 1345 yards of offense and 18 TD’s.

  11. avatar marky mark says:

    As usual the bad call only went against the scuMSUckers!!

    Thanks for the link I knew Bell was a dumb a** but wow!!!

    Yall refs won that game!! we only lost one yall refs won the other four!! LMAO

  12. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    We won this game,in my opinion a moral victory. Take away the personal fouls away from the ball and after the play and we win. We were up 31-14 , with six minutes to play against Nebraska, gentlemen Nebraska just think about that for a moment. All our goals are still ahead of us. This is the best 5-5 team in America. One more win and this Coach will have taken us to six bowls in a row. That is the mark of an elite program. Less than 25 teams in the nation have done that. That is what makes Dantonio elite. Consistent bowl eligibility. Next week this season turns around. We can run the table now.As the best 7-5 team in America Hollis will leverage Northwesterns poor economic draw into Jacksonville.

  13. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    Here’s a clip of the players practicing in their camo uni’s with some comments from some including Coach Izzo


  14. avatar dmbtierney says:

    Stepping back, and looking at this season from a different angle, MSU is only FOUR plays from being 9-1 and probably ranked in the Top 10. This is nowhere near a bad team, just a pretty good team that quite hasn’t learned to finish a game. Probably no team in America has had their last four games decided on the last non-kickoff play of the game.

    We have had .500 teams in the past, but none of them were in every game to the end like this one–no blowouts and no humiliations. One or two wins to go, probably a Florida bowl game (by attrition) and it can still be a pretty good season. If this happens, it is important to note that no FB coach in school history has gone to six bowl games in a row! There is still tons of FB to go this season.

  15. avatar behind the green curtain says:

    While you cannot evaluate a decision based on the outcome – you can evaluate it based on putting a team in the best chance of success. Which was statistically going for it. Even if you are using the mantra of putting your defense on the field and relying on them… the 19 yard differential still puts them in position for success.

    Dantonio’s management of timeouts was also suspect. Nebraska could have been forced to punt at the end of the 2nd half, deep in its zone. Why not force them to punt – bad snap? Block? Return? Think also about having Nebraska 4th & 10 near midfield – no Cornhusker TOs… and taking one allowing them time to set-up, run personnel in, get the right play dialed in… instead of having to rush is against the play clock.

    Bad Clock Management & Poor statistical use of 4th Down decisions have hurt the 2012 Spartans AND may have cost them anywhere between 1-3 wins.
    The hogs will beat South Carolina next Saturday I gauranty it. As I wagered the Marine if the hogs go 6-6 he admits he was wrong and I was right about Dantonio. The day the Hogs pick up loss number 7 is the day you never hear from me again.

  16. avatar behind the green curtain says:

    I hereby challenge the marine to run with the bulls next year in Pampolona Spain , the loser pays for air fare and hotels for the winner, loser pays double down thats the wager.

    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      Marines don’t have to do silly PR stunts to prove to themselves or others that they are men. That knowledge was gained many years ago in SEA or other clines.

      I’m telling ya, John L, either google it or go to the school library, read about Maslow’s Pyramid, understand human nature, you’ll be better for it. The dichotomy between wants and needs is sorely lacking in your life.

  17. avatar behind the green curtain says:

    Marine will have to advance the cost of the trip over .

  18. avatar P@aol.com says:

    Great game…bad calls by the refs. That ref that made 3 of the bad calls in the article above was horrendous and out of position all game long. MSU should send tape to the Big 10 and get that guy reprimanded.

    The coaches made a big mistake on the last punt. We had the ball 4th and 3 at about there 42. They had just used their last TO. Why not come out in a “we are going for it set” and see if you can draw them off. If you do draw them YOU WIN. If you don’t you go back 5 yards (their 47) and you actually have a better area to punt from. DUMD COACHING >>>THAT is on the special teams coach. Then why call TO on Neb 4th down? The last thing you want Taylor Martinez to do is GET COACHED before a play. Who scouted this team. I think that the coaches dropped the ball there as well. And, finally…Our defense and our undisciplined play is horrible. Narduzzi gets a “F” for this game. That team is one dimensional…TM…and you didn’t get it done. Frankly you have not got it done on d all year. I believe that the D is the WEAKNESS of this team.

  19. avatar GoSt8Go says:

    I urge all of the faithful not to despair. These are painful outcomes and I share in the frustration. I believe in the coaches to have his team prepared for a minimum of 2 more games. I believe they have no better coach to see them through this adversity (there’s that word again) than Mark Dantonio.

    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      Well said.

      I just had an epiphany about our Arkansas troll, he is a lonely, lonely old man clinging to the last shreds of comradeship he can find. He’s like anyone who puts up with an abusive situation, better to keep the devil you know. Remember he called me friend a few threads back? As I said to him then, if he considers me a friend, then his personal life must be miserable.

      • avatar behind the green curtain says:

        when things are miserable


        Hogs 38
        Spurrier 35

      • avatar LouKyHusker says:

        Your right. Anyone that associates with a Marine has no life. Remember Marine, when all is bleek, The Marine Corps is just a member of the Department of the Navy… Navy Rules..

        • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

          Yea and a squid is the lowest form of marine life, we could do this for hours. As most here know, I spent some of my formative years with the USN, then realized big gray boats can and do stay at sea for LONG periods of time and went with the Corps upon graduation, only to find that the Marines were still rescuing the Navy by deploying in lieu of Navy squadrons. Oh, the irony, the irony.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      +1 basketball with the game agains UCONN in Germany and than the Atl Spartan invitational with Kansas will be a good diversion.

  20. avatar LouKyHusker says:

    If you look at the penalty calls made, there were several calls that were questionable. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it works against you. Today, it worked for the Huskers and against the Spartans. It was a great game and thats the key. Both teams, win or lose, were competitive and gave the fans what they wanted, a Good game. No one got hurt and fun and excitement was had by all. Isn’t that, what it is all about. I am happy that my Huskers were on the winning end this time. We have been on the other end several times and it doesn’t make you feel any better when you blame the Refs. In the end, the team is the key to the win or loss.

  21. avatar behind the green curtain says:


    But for now, for this year, Sparty gets to be the most disappointing B1G team. Sparty gets to livewith the most perturbed, pissed off, occasionally apathetic fanbase. Sparty gets to be on the wrong side of so many close contests.
    That’s just Sparty’s fate in 2012.
    Almost 20 penalties. Ridiculous. And let’s not mention the close PI calls or the absolute incorrect late hit call that gave MSU a touchdown on the same drive. It was the perfect storm of bad officiating and close calls. Nothing can be done, so let’s not waste our time whining.
    Low completion percentage from Maxwell, again. Early in the season, we saw that these back shoulder throws and tight end seam routes weren’t working. So what is Michigan State still trying to do? The same damn thing. Which leads me to a thought -
    I assume that Dan Roushar is gone? I assume that because donors and fans alike will be calling for offensive improvement and what better way to show a commitment to that by firing the OC who was in over his head throughout the year.


  22. avatar Lancelot_Spartan says:

    I would like to get your guys opinion on this as I have heard several people mention it and Hondo wrote an article mentioning it last year. Does Delany tell the refs to give more calls to the “money making schools” like Michigan, OSU, Nebraska, and Penn State? It’s no secret that when those schools are succesful the Big Ten makes more money. And we all know that money drives college football today, so why wouldn’t Delany do this? It’s just games like this that make you wonder… I doubt that this goes on but maybe I am too naive? It really wouln’t surprise me. And coach D’s comment about how he thinks no one is out to get Michigan State seemed a little odd…

    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      I AM not paranoid, but I do have proof they are out to get me.

      • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

        The play in question would seem to be a case in point, but I think it was just a case of the back judge seeing something that had to be there (he could not actually see through the players, x-ray vision notwithstanding) and then the crew chief failing to do what he did on Adams’s Oscar performance.

    • avatar GoSt8Go says:

      Certainly Delaney has inspired many opinions about his character on this blog. That said, I can’t imagine him telling refs anything like this. If he did, it would be so secretive that we wouldn’t even begin to hear rumors about it, because if it ever got public he’d (and the B1G) be in a serious world of hurt.

  23. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    How bad is the btn? they are running a program that first aired in Oct 2011, the host is not even with btn any more, he got run out of Fox on 12/1/11.

  24. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    Prolly the only new “beat writer” who is worse than the Cracker is Mikie Griffith over at MlLive, winning at Minnihaha got the Bruce Jenner’s back in his Harris Poll. Anybody wonder why the human polls are sooooooo bad?

    • avatar marky mark says:

      why are you so obsessed with UM? Pretty bad when the wide receiver’s first start at qb is better than moo u’s starter!!!!!

      • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

        Believe me, sonny boy, obsession has nothing to do with it, judgement about the competency of “journalists” carries more weight with me than anything Bruce Jenner every does. Anyone who thinks an AAJC team that beats a struggling Mini team is therefore top 25 releveant knows about as much about college football as you know about molecular engineering. He at least ranked NW ahead of the fighting Brucie’s.

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