Sept. 23, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Here's a not-so-bold prediction about Michigan State's Big Ten opener against Ohio State.
The Buckeyes will stack their defense against the MSU rushing attack led by Le'Veon Bell until quarterback Andrew Maxwell and his receiving corps prove they can move the ball consistently through the air.
That would suit Spartan tight end Dion Sims just fine.
With Eastern Michigan stacking the box with eight and nine defenders to stop Bell, Sims was free to make all six of his catches for a career-high 112 yards and a touchdown in the second half.
The Eagles weren't particularly effective at stopping Bell, either. He rushed for 253 yards on 36 carries in an unconventional display of offensive balance.
"We saw the safeties were playing down a lot, so the play-action was there," said Sims. "They stacked the box a lot more than we saw on film, so we just adjusted to it.
"That's actually good for both tight ends and receivers because it opens the play-action, which we ran a lot in the second half and got big plays on."
Sims put MSU ahead, 16-7, in the fourth quarter with a 10-yard catch he made even though an EMU defender was on his back.
"I expected the ball was coming to me," Sims said. "I just ran my route and felt like a big play was needed. I just did everything I could to focus on catching the ball and scoring. Yeah, I felt (the defender) but I was just more focused on the ball."
Sims' career-long 36-yard reception set up a 1-yard touchdown by Bell with 2:05 remaining.
"I just knew that big plays had to be made, and when my number was called, I stepped up and did what I could," Sims said. "The game was really close and the guys were down because we had a lot of dropped balls in the first half, so somebody had to step up and do something.
"I felt a sense of urgency. I felt like something had to be done."
Sims has established himself as Maxwell's most reliable target.
"I think (Sims) just fell into the plays that were getting called," Maxwell said. "He just happened to be open a lot of time. (Giving us a lift) is something that he does. That's something that he did against Boise State and that's the kind of player he is.
"You know when his number gets called, he's going to do everything he can to make the plays, whether that be catching the quick stuff or catching the stuff down the field.
"He's a guy who's reliable and we know we can count on him."