Sept. 14, 2013
By Steve Grinczel, MSUSpartans.com Online Columnist
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The spark Michigan State's offense had been desperate to find finally came from the source of so many misfires - the wide receiving corps - in Saturday's 55-17 victory against Youngstown State.
Sophomore wideout Macgarrett Kings Jr. burned the brightest while establishing career-highs for catches and yards with four for 61, and his first touchdown as a Spartan. But, Tony Lippett was next with four for 41, Aaron Burbridge had three for 44, tight end Josiah Price had three for 28, wideout Bennie Fowler had two for 29 and a touchdown, tight end Jamal Lyles had two for 19 and Andre Sims Jr. had one for 13 and a score.
"It felt real good offensively," Kings said. "We just want to prove and show everybody what we can do. We're not a one-dimensional offense. We can also pass the ball, and we do have guys that can catch it."
It was a timely development with a trip to Notre Dame coming up next for the Spartans.
"No coaches put pressure on us," Kings said. "They just kept pushing us and giving us confidence. Us as a whole put it on ourselves. We just told each other we've to go out here and make plays."
After failing to reach 100 passing yards a week earlier against South Florida, MSU had 270 against the Penguins. Starting quarterback Connor Cook completed 15-of-22 passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns and backup Tyler O'Connor went 7-for-10 for 68.
Kings got things started through the air on Michigan State's first series with a 10-yard catch on third-and-4. Two plays later, running back Jeremy Langford ran for a 3-yard touchdown. Kings factored in the Spartans' next scoring drive as well, with a 20-yard catch that set up Cook's 13-yard touchdown pass to Sims.
He had only a 7-yard catch on MSU's next possession, which ended on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Cook to fullback Trevon Pendleton, but he made the score 28-10 with a 24-yard TD reception in the second quarter.
"I continue to say that Macgarrett Kings, Jr. had a great fall camp," said head coach Mark Dantonio. "He catches everything. His confidence is very high right now and that's what you do, you put a premium on confidence when you're a skill player, whether that's the quarterback, tailback or wideout. He's a playmaker."
Kings said the receivers focused all week in practice on: "Everything. Attention to detail, route-running, getting the correct depth, focusing on the ball coming all the way into your hand, then focusing on getting up the field. As long you catch the ball first, everything will fall into place."
Co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner felt somewhat vindicated because the receivers caught the ball the way he said they had been in practice since the beginning of preseason camp.
"Obviously, it was a lot better than it has been in the past couple of weeks." Warner said. "We got our passing game going but still missed some receivers which prevented us from being even better. Overall, it's a good feeling to finally put everything together.
"But, that's just the start because certainly we have a long way to go and a long season in front of us, so hopefully, it's just the beginning."