Grinz on Green Blog: MSU Loses Shutout Late
Through two games, the Spartan defense still hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown.
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Michigan State defensive end William Gholston's first tackle of the season resulted in a 1-yard loss for Central Michigan in the first quarter of Saturday's game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
His other solo tackle against the Chippewas also was behind the line of scrimmage and netted the Spartans' first, and so far only, quarterback sack of the season.
Some would say Gholston's trademark tackles-for-loss were long overdue for a preseason All-American.
After MSU's 41-7 victory, Gholston wasn't sweating such small stuff. He didn't even mind that the Spartans' highly touted defense wouldn't get credit for a shutout because back-up quarterback Connor Cook threw an interception for a touchdown in the waning moments of the game.
"I really don't necessarily care about stats, honestly," Gholston said. "If I didn't have any tackles or anything, it wouldn't matter to me. The only thing I care about is being dominating as a team. Individual goals don't really matter right now."
Through no fault of its own, the Spartan defense hasn't registered as highly on the wow factor as it could in two games that were closer on the scoreboard than they should have been.
While it hasn't allowed a touchdown in the first two games, the offense has given up both opposing TDs on pick-six interceptions. To be fair, the defense can really only be held responsible for three points of the 20 points scored against the Spartans so far, and those came on a short, penalty-aided Boise State offensive possession.
The Chippewas' deepest penetration when the outcome was still somewhat in doubt ended on downs at the MSU 27-yard line in the second quarter. Two others, in the third and fourth quarters, made it to the 23, but also stalled on fourth down.
Gholston's disdain for statistics aside, he wasn't happy with the 72 rushing yards and 173 passing yards gained by CMU.
"Not giving up a touchdown is pretty good," he said. "But we've got to shut down the yardage game, too. I don't know how much yardage they had, but I know they had a lot of passing yards. If me personally, and a couple other guys, shut down a few more yards, we'll be good.
"A win is a win. We came out with 41 points on the board and the defense didn't give up any points. We're really confident."
Head coach Mark Dantonio said losing the shutout was a "little frustrating," but pleased with three turnovers - two interceptions and a fumble - forced by the defense.
GoG Notes & Quotes: Lawrence Thomas, a former blue-chip high school defensive prospect and red-shirt freshman, made an impression, but from the fullback position. He had one reception for 7 yards and a couple of punishing blocks.
"LT is a great football player and we really felt like we've got to get the guy going somewhere," Dantonio said. "He's too good to not play, whether that be at tight end, fullback or defensive end."
However, the Spartans are well-stocked at defensive end, so Thomas will be pressed into duty wherever he can help.
"You put a 280-pound fullback in there and he's going to move some people," Dantonio said. "We experimented a little bit. We wanted him to play today and were able to do that, and we think it's going to be a positive for us as we go.
"What we have to do is play him in practice on both sides. He's not going to go entirely over there to offense. In my grand scheme of things, I still think of him as a defensive player down the road, but we've got to get him playing football."
"It's a tough one because if you're going to play your freshmen, they're going to continue to play," Dantonio said. "I talked to them on the sideline and we practiced them all week. I think they have great skills and there's no question if we can get the ball in their hands they can make things happen.
"They can be big-play players for us. They wanted to play; they knew the situation. We've played them now, so now we'll use them. I might not like it five years from now, but I like it now."
Gholston took note of Kings' natural ability.
"Y'all see the moves Macgarrett had?" he said. "He got some juice."