1997 Football Notes

LETTERWINNERS
- Fifty-three members of the 1997 Michigan State football team earned letters:
Seniors (14): OT Flozell Adams, PK Chris Gardner, LB Tyrone Garland, SS Dan Hackenbracht, CB Ray Hill, WR Damien Hiram, TE Josh Keur, WR Octavis Long, OT Dave Mudge, FB Travis Reece, LB Ike Reese, TB Marc Renaud, QB Todd Schultz, OG Scott Shaw.
Juniors (10): CB Amp Campbell, FS Archie Collins, SS Scott Ernsberger, FB Garett Gould, FS Sorie Kanu, LB Courtney Ledyard, SS Lemar Marshall, C Jason Strayhorn, DT Desmond Thomas, DE Dimitrius Underwood.
Sophomores (18): LB Mike Austin, LB Sean Banks, QB Bill Burke, DT Davarrio Carter, P Paul Edinger, DT Pete Govens, FB Billy Greene, TB Sedrick Irvin, OG Casey Jensen, TB Leroy McFadden, SS Aric Morris, DT Robert Newkirk, C Mike Neal, TE Brad Rainko, TE Kyle Rance, WR Gari Scott, DE Robaire Smith, LB Shawn Wright.
Freshmen (11): CB Richard Brown, DT Willie Comerford, C Brian Grant, OG Shaun Mason, CB Richard Newsome, WR Lavaile Richardson, DE Jace Sayler, OG Mike Schutz, DE Artie Steinmetz, OT Dave Sucura, LB T.J. Turner.

QUICK STARTS -
Michigan State outscored its opponents, 214-118, in the first half in 1997. The Spartan defense allowed only one touchdown in the first quarter during the regular season and it came in Game 10 at Illinois as Robert Holcombe scored on a 63-yard pass play from Mark Hoekstra. Overall, Michigan State outscored opponents, 121-47, in the first quarter. The Spartans scored touchdowns on their first two possessions in each of the first four games.

NCAA STAT LEADERS -
Here's a glance at how Michigan State ranked among the NCAA stat leaders in 1997 (bowl games not included):

Team Statistics
Rushing Offense: 24th at 199.5 yards per game
Passing Offense: 76th at 182.5 yards per game
Total Offense: 46th at 381.9 yards per game
Scoring Offense: 38th at 29.0 points per game
Rushing Defense: 24th at 115.4 yards per game
Pass Efficiency Defense: 16th at 103.9 rating
Total Defense: 13th at 301.1 yards per game
Scoring Defense: 14th at 16.9 points per game
Turnover Margin: t-40th at +0.4 turnovers per game
Net Punting: 105th at 33.0 yards per punt
Punt Returns: 23rd at 11.4 yards per return
Kickoff Returns: t-30th at 21.6 yards per return
Individual Statistics
Rushing: Sedrick Irvin (16th at 110.1 yards per game)
Punt Returns: Sedrick Irvin (18th at 13.2 avg.);
              Gari Scott (45th at 10.0 avg.)
Scoring: Sedrick Irvin (t-30th at 7.64 points per game)
Interceptions: Amp Campbell (t-22nd at 0.45 per game)
All-Purpose Yards: Sedrick Irvin (10th at 164.8 yards per game);
                   Marc Renaud (42nd at 125.2 ypg)

SECONDARY PLAY A KEY -
With four starters returning, Michigan State head coach Nick Saban expected his defensive secondary to play with more consistency and to make more big plays in 1997. Based upon its performance, it's safe to say MSU's secondary was the most improved unit on the team.

Consider these key stats:
* Michigan State ranked fourth in the Big Ten (No. 16 nationally) in passing defense with a 106.3 efficiency rating. In 1996, the Spartans stood eighth in the league and No. 63 nationally in passing defense with a 125.3 rating.
* The Spartans allowed only 12 passing touchdowns, four fewer than in '96.
* Michigan State intercepted 18 passes, compared to only eight in '96.

Here's a quick comparison between Michigan State's pass defense in 1997 and '96:

Season Att. Comp. Int.  Pct.  Yds.  YPG    TD   Rating
1997   356   188   18   .528  2222  185.2  12   106.3
1996   326   181    8   .555  2268  189.0  16   125.3

SPARTANS TOUGH AGAINST THE RUN -
Michigan State has held 11 out of its last 22 regular-season opponents under 100 yards rushing. In the 1997 season opener vs. Western Michigan, the Spartans allowed 29 yards rushing on 21 attempts. It marked the fourth time during Nick Saban's tenure that Michigan State surrendered fewer than 50 yards on the ground. Here's a look at MSU's top efforts against the run since 1995:

Date             Opponent         Att.-Yds.  Result
Sept. 16, 1995   @Louisville        37-50    W 30-7
Sept. 28, 1996   Eastern Michigan   39-25    W 47-0
Oct. 12, 1996    Illinois           32-49    W 42-14
Sept. 6, 1997    Western Michigan   21-29    W 42-10

STINGY DEFENSE PART II -

A key to Michigan State's success on defense in 1997 was its ability to prevent big plays. Spartan opponents produced only 36 plays from scrimmage (789 snaps) which totaled more than 20 yards. That means the Spartans surrendered a big play (+20 yards) once every 22 snaps.
Michigan State allowed only six runs of 20 or more yards, including a long gain of 64. The Spartans held their opponents to three plays and a punt 41 times in '97.

The Spartans ranked fourth in the Big Ten (No. 24 nationally) in rushing defense, yielding 130.6 yards per game. Michigan State recorded 99 tackles behind the line of scrimmage with losses totaling 369 yards, including 36 sacks for 213 yards. That's an average of 8.3 tackles behind the line (30.8 yards) and 3.0 sacks per game (17.8). Starting defensive ends Robaire Smith and Dimitrius Underwood combined for 28 tackles for losses (132 yards), including 20 sacks (114).

GROUND GAME PRODUCES WINS -

During Nick Saban's tenure, Michigan State has rushed the ball 50 times or more on 11 occasions with the Spartans sporting an 9-2 record in those games.

Michigan State produced 452 yards on the ground vs. Penn State, averaging nearly eight yards per carry. It marked the most rushing yards ever allowed by a Penn State team. It also marked only the second time in NCAA history that two players from the same team rushed for over 200 yards as Sedrick Irvin (238) and Marc Renaud (203) combined for 441 yards against the Nittany Lions.

Michigan State had 222 yards rushing on 53 attempts in a 23-7 victory at Notre Dame Sept. 20, with both Renaud (112) and Irvin (106) going over the 100-yard mark.

Here's a look at Michigan State's 11 games with 50-plus rushes since 1995:

Date             Opponent         Att.-Yds.       Result
Sept. 16, 1995   @Louisville        56-216        W 30-7
Oct. 14, 1995    @Illinois          55-239        W 27-21
Sept. 28, 1996   Eastern Michigan   57-249        W 47-0
Oct. 5, 1996     @Iowa              52-236        L 30-37
Oct. 12, 1996    Illinois           52-205        W 42-14
Oct. 19, 1996    @Minnesota         56-243        W 27-9
Nov. 9, 1996     Indiana            64-257        W 38-15
Sept. 6, 1997    Western Michigan   52-150        W 42-10
Sept. 20, 1997   @Notre Dame        53-222        W 23-7
Nov. 8, 1997     @Purdue            50-200        L 21-22
Nov. 29, 1997    Penn State         58-452        W 49-14

"RED ZONE" UPDATE - Michigan State scored on 37 of its 41 possessions (.902) that penetrated the opponent's 20-yard line in 1997. The Spartans' scoring drives produced 28 touchdowns and nine field goals. Here's a look at MSU's and its opponent's trips inside the "Red Zone" in '97:

Michigan State    "Red Zone" Results
Western Michigan    3-3 (3 TDs)
Memphis             7-7 (6 TDs, FG)
Notre Dame          5-6 (2 TDs, 3 FGs, lost on downs)
Minnesota           4-4 (3 TDs, FG)
Indiana             2-2 (2 TDs)
Northwestern        2-3 (TD, FG, missed FG)
Michigan            1-1 (TD)
Ohio State          1-1 (FG)
Purdue              2-3 (2 TDs, blocked FG)
Illinois            4-4 (2 TDs, 2 FGs)
Penn State          5-5 (5 TDs)
Washington          1-2 (TD, lost on downs)
Totals             37-41(.902)
Opponent    "Red Zone" Results
Western Michigan     2-3 (TD, interception, FG)
Memphis              1-3 (lost on downs, TD, interception)
Notre Dame           1-1 (TD)
Minnesota            1-1 (FG)
Indiana              2-2 (2 FGs)
Northwestern         2-2 (FG, TD)
Michigan             5-6 (3 FGs, 2 TDs, missed FG)
Ohio State           4-4 (2 FGs, 2 TDs)
Purdue               2-3 (blocked FG, FG, TD)
Illinois             0-0
Penn State           1-1 (TD)
Washington           3-3 (2 TDs, FG)
Totals              24-29(.828)

POINTS OFF TURNOVERS -
The Spartans opened the 1997 season with five-straight wins and a +1.6 turnover margin. During its four-game losing streak, Michigan State had a turnover margin of -1.75. Michigan State parlayed 27 takeaways into 80 points in '97. The Spartans finished last in the Big Ten in turnover margin at -0.83 per game (18 takeaways, 28 giveaways) in '96, vs. sixth in 1997.

 
Michigan State     Takeaways                         Points
Western Michigan   7 (4 interceptions, 3 fumbles)     21 (3 TDs)
Memphis            3 (1 interception, 2 fumbles)      14 (2 TDs)
Notre Dame         1 (1 interception)                  0
Minnesota          2 (2 interceptions)                 7 (TD)
Indiana            0                                   0
Northwestern       2 (2 fumbles)                       7 (TD)
Michigan           0                                   0
Ohio State         2 (2 interceptions)                 7 (TD)
Purdue             2 (2 interceptions)                 0
Illinois           3 (3 interceptions)                10 (FG, TD)
Penn State         4 (3 interceptions, 1 fumble)      14 (2 TDs)
Washington         1 (1 fumble)                        0
Totals            27 (18 interceptions, 9 fumbles)    80
Opponent           Takeaways                         Points
Western Michigan   1 (1 interception)                  0
Memphis            1 (1 fumble)                        7 (TD)
Notre Dame         1 (1 interception)                  7 (TD)
Minnesota          2 (1 interception, 1 fumble)        7 (TD)
Indiana            0                                   0
Northwestern       3 (1 interception, 2 fumbles)       7
Michigan           6 (6 interceptions)                10 (FG, TD)
Ohio State         2 (2 interceptions)                14 (2 TDs)
Purdue             2 (1 fumble, 1 interception)        3 (FG)
Illinois           3 (2 fumbles, 1 interception)       3 (FG)
Penn State         1 (1 interception)                  0
Washington         5 (2 fumbles, 3 interceptions)     24
Totals            27 (18 interceptions, 9 fumbles)    82

SPARTANS RECORD BEST START SINCE 1966 -
Michigan State opened the 1997 season with five-straight wins - its best start since 1966. The Spartans began the '66 campaign with nine-straight victories before the historic 10-10 tie against Notre Dame in the season finale.

MAGIC NUMBER 24 -
Since 1990, Michigan State is 39-8-1 (.822) when it scores at least 24 points and 7-37-1 (.167) when it scores fewer than 24 points. During that eight-year period, the Spartans have compiled an overall record of only 46-45-2 (.505).

TRACKING THE SPARTANS IN THE POLLS -
Here's a glance at how Michigan State fared in the weekly Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches Polls in 1997:

Note: Michigan State reached No. 11 in both polls Oct. 5, which marked its highest national rating since finishing eighth in the polls after the 1987 season.

1997 OPPONENTS SUMMARY -

Date vs.
MSU       Opponent (Record)      Bowl Game (Result)
Sept. 6   Western Michigan (8-3)
Sept. 13  Memphis (4-7)
Sept. 20  @Notre Dame (7-6)      Independence vs. LSU (L 9-27)
Oct. 4    Minnesota (3-9)
Oct. 11   @Indiana (2-9)
Oct. 18   @Northwestern (5-7)
Oct. 25   Michigan (12-0)        Rose vs. Wash. State (W 21-16)
Nov. 1    Ohio State (10-3)      Sugar vs. Florida State (L 14-31)
Nov. 8    @Purdue (9-3)          Alamo vs. Okla. State (W 33-20)
Nov. 22   @Illinois (0-11)
Nov. 29   Penn State (9-3)       Citrus vs. Florida (L 6-21)

Michigan State's 1997 opponents had a combined regular-season record of 63-51 (.553). Note: Record doesn't include games played against MSU.

SPARTANS OF THE WEEK -

Opponent           Offense      Defense       Special Teams
Western Michigan   S. Shaw      A. Campbell   S. Ernsberger
Memphis            O. Long      I. Reese      R. Truitt
Notre Dame         M. Renaud    R. Hill       R. Newsome
Minnesota          G. Scott     R. Smith      D. Hiram
Indiana            S. Irvin     S. Kanu       L. Marshall
Northwestern       J. Keur      R. Smith      S. Ernsberger
Michigan           S. Irvin     C. Ledyard    G. Gould
Ohio State         T. Reece     I. Reese      P. Edinger
Purdue             T. Schultz   L. Marshall   A. Collins
Illinois           F. Adams     I. Reese      G. Scott
Penn State         O-Line       A. Campbell   O. Long

SPARTAN TRENDS UNDER SABAN -
Here's how Michigan State has fared during Nick Saban's tenure (1995-97):

Games played in Spartan Stadium: 12-6
Games played on the road/neutral site: 7-10-1
When leading at halftime: 18-6
When trailing at halftime: 1-9-1
When scoring first: 16-6-1
When opponent scores first: 3-10
When leading after first quarter: 15-4-1
When trailing after first quarter: 2-7
When tied after first quarter: 2-5
When leading after three quarters: 18-1-1
When trailing after three quarters: 1-13
When tied after three quarters: 0-2
When gaining more first downs than opponent: 16-4
When gaining fewer first downs than opponent: 3-9-1
When gaining same number of first downs as opponent: 0-3
When gaining 200+ yards rushing: 14-3-1
When opponent gains 200+ yards rushing: 2-8-1
When outrushing opponent: 17-5-1
When being outrushed by opponent: 2-11
When gaining 200+ yards passing: 9-10-1
When opponent gains 200+ yards passing: 6-8-1
When gaining more total yards than opponent: 18-5
When gaining fewer total yards than opponent: 1-11-1
When leading in time of possession: 15-8-1
When trailing in time of possession: 4-8