Sept. 16, 2012
By Steve Grinczel, Online Columnist
EAST LANSING, Mich. - It wasn't exactly like falling behind Notre Dame 2-0 before any time ticked off the clock, as was the case in 1987 when Michigan State's return man caught the opening kickoff and stepped back into the end zone for a safety.
But, the Spartans appeared to be trying to climb out of a hole from the time starting right offensive tackle Fou Fonoti hobbled onto the field with his foot in a stabilizing boot.
"You can try to patch some things together, and then it became a one-dimensional game," said offensive coordinator Dan Roushar.
The loss of Fonoti, who started 13 consecutive games, can't be overstated. Michigan State averaged just 2.0 yards per rush and suffered their first four quarterback sacks of the season in the 20-3 loss in Spartan Stadium.
"I feel like Fou, in addition to being a great player, he's also a great leader," said center Travis Jackson. "It's always tough to lose a player like that, but we have to move on without him and there are guys chomping at the bit to go after that spot."
Fonoti could miss up to six weeks, which means MSU's depth, said to be the best in years, will be tested early.
Skyler Burkland, who started the first three games of 2011 before sustaining an injury, took Fonoti's spot.
Senior lineman Ethan Ruhland said the line shouldn't have to undergo a major overhaul.
"Being that we work together so much every day, and we have a lot of guys on the O-line who can play different positions," Ruhland said. "When these situations come up, there really isn't a lot of loss of cohesion."
Help could be on the way in the form of Blake Treadwell, who was in uniform for the first time this season after dealing with fractured tibia sustained during preseason camp.
"We will look at all the different things that we have to do," Roushar said. "But Skyler Burkland stepped in at right tackle. This is what we have right now and they will get better."