While many of MSU’s coaches and players could see a play here, a call there that would have changed the outcome of Saturday’s loss to Ohio State, William Gholston provided this week’s “Next question” sound bytes.
More on that in a moment. First, let’s get the perfunctory links out of the way:
* Here’s Rexrode’s game story from the Buckeyes’ 17-13 victory and the thing many will be talking about Sunday, the allegations of their tape doctoring. (As will the video of eye-gouging at the bottom of one dogpile – which, no one seems to be mentioning that the Ohio State player had his hand poking at Jack Allen’s facemask at the same time).
* I examine the progress made in the passing game, as well as some of the offensive mistakes that still exist. And here are my grades of the Spartans from this game (biggest difference between mine and Rexrode’s grades is in special teams – the blocked punt as well as the missed field goal weigh more heavily in mine).
* Calloway leads off his notebook with Ohio State QB Braxton Miller’s day and how the Spartans struggled to contain him. Also in there, Brian looks at center Travis Jackson’s broken right leg and injured right MCL, which likely will end his sophomore season.
* Graham Couch looks at the big picture of what this loss means to the Spartans moving forward and how their Rose Bowl hopes still remain intact.
Back to the postgame assessments and a surly Gholston.
Dantonio said, “When you lose a game 17-16, you have a tendency to say ‘What if?’ a lot and look at single plays and how they would have made a difference.”
Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi: “I could probably pick 15 plays when we didn’t make a play early in the game,” and then went on to list what they “should’ve” done.
Le’Veon Bell echoed that from the offensive side: “There were a lot of times that we could have made plays. It was a couple of little inches here and a couple of little inches there that could have made a difference in the game.”
Said offensive coordinator Dan Roushar, on opting to run on second down late in that final drive: “Obviously, that’s one you’ll look back on and wish we would have thrown it.”
Quarterback Andrew Maxwell summed up the Spartans’ final drive thusly: “Plays were there to be made. For whatever reason, we didn’t make them.” And on the fast-fading dream of the Rose Bowl, the junior quarterback said, “If we play like we did today…, we’re going to win our fair share and have a chance at it.”
Gholston wasn’t taking part in any kind of that second-guessing with a pack of reporters surrounding him. He gave a lot of brusque answers to questions, his lip scraped up and showing just how physical the game was. Here’s a sampling.
* On nearly sacking Braxton Miller a few times: “Dynamic player. He made plays when we should have made plays.”
* On what he expected to see on the game film: “A lot of holding.”
* On where the blame fell: “If the defense holds them to 0 points, then we win.”
* On what happened as Ohio State got its final first down: “They got the first down.”
(In a certain reporter’s confusion while looking at his notes – my guilty admission – initially it was mentioned that Miller was the ball-carrier. Gholston responds, “HE got the first down?” Said reporter corrects himself and says it was actually Carlos Hyde who went off right side, Gholston reaffirms, “He went off the right side? He got past the first down, so he got the first down.”)
* On trying to prevent Miller’s big plays: “He’s not the only player on the team. He didn’t score – he threw a touchdown, and somebody else ran for a touchdown. He didn’t score.”
* On putting into words his overall view of the defensive performance: “What can you say? They won. What else is there to put into words?”
* On the most frustrating thing coming out of the game: “It’s not necessarily frustration. You don’t know the frustration until you look over the tape.” Did he think he will be frustrated? “Me, personally, I know I will be. There’s a couple plays I should have made that I didn’t make. There’s one sack that me and Denicos (Allen) could have had at the same time, and I know for sure I’m going to be frustrated over that.”
* And on how the team should use this loss moving forward, the usually personable Gholston finally opened up a bit: “This game here, me personally, what I want to do is to challenge myself personally, and I know my teammates are going to do the same thing. We’ll go into the defensive meeting room, we’ll all talk as a unit – we’re going to try and dominate. That’s what we’re going to do with this game. We’re going to look at this game, see what we need to do, and we’re going to try and dominate the rest of the year.”
MSU’s biggest internal program challenges will be to avoid dwelling and, as Gholston pointed out, learning from those mistakes and happenstances. And there will be plenty of self-critique today when the Spartans watch the game again and break down the film.
But as Dantonio added, “You can’t change it, I can’t go back in the past. We’re a 3-2 football team, we still have opportunities in front of us. We’re going to Indiana, and we better not lose sight of that. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves when things happen to us, we have to move forward. And that’s who we have to be as a football team.”