Three Spartans Earn National Player Of The Week Honors
Oct. 17, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior linebacker Greg Jones, who posted a season-high 14 stops in a 26-6 Homecoming victory over Illinois as the Spartans improved to 7-0 for the first time since 1966, has been named National Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. In addition, College Football Performance Awards have selected sophomore Dan Conroy as National Placekicker of the Week and red-shirt freshman Kevin Muma as National Kickoff Specialist of the Week.
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Jones recorded double-figure tackles for the second time this season and for the 20th time his career. He also was credited with a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry. Jones has led the team in tackles in 27 of the last 33 games. Michigan State limited the Illini to 114 rushing yards - 103 yards below its season average.
Trailing 6-3 at halftime, the Spartan defense shut out the Illini in the second half while forcing three turnovers (four takeaways in the game). It marked the first time since a 31-3 win over Indiana on Oct. 4, 2003, that Michigan State didn't allow a touchdown in a Big Ten game.
"Greg Jones is a consistent playmaker," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "The entire defensive unit played an excellent second half, keeping Illinois off the scoreboard. We did a much better job on third down in the second half, allowing the Illini to convert only 1-of-5 attempts. But the four turnovers were the key to the game. If we can continue to do those things defensively, we're going to be tough to beat."
The 5-10, 185-pound Conroy accounted for a career-best 14 points against Illinois, as he made a career-best four field goals, hitting from 37, 34, 32 and 18 yards. He remains perfect on the season, hitting his first 13 field-goal attempts. That's the best start by a placekicker in MSU history, breaking the mark previously held by Paul Edinger who made his first 10 field-goal attempts in 1999. Conroy, who hit his only field-goal attempt of the 2009 season in the opener against Montana State, is 14-for-14 in his career (school record for consecutive field goals: 15 by Brett Swenson in 2008).
"The special teams played a key role in Saturday's game," Dantonio said. "Dan Conroy is doing very, very well in his first year as the starting placekicker. He's very competitive and works extremely hard. Dan is kicking the ball with a lot of confidence right now. I'm proud of him and happy for him."
The 6-foot, 186-pound Muma averaged 68.6 yards on seven kickoffs, including a career-best four touchbacks.
"Kevin Muma did a great job of knocking the ball into the end zone against Illinois," Dantonio said. "He certainly helped impact field position Saturday, as the Illini's average starting field position on kickoffs was its own 22-yard line."
Michigan State is ranked No. 8 in the latest Associated Press and USA TODAY Polls. It marks MSU's first appearance in the Top 10 since Oct. 26, 2003 (AP No. 9, USA Today No. 10). The Spartans are ranked No. 7 in the first Bowl Championship Series Standings, released Sunday. It marks MSU's highest ranking ever in the BCS Standings (No. 9 in 1999 Final BCS Standings).
"We're very excited about the 7-0 start because it hasn't been done here in awhile," Dantonio said, "but I told our football team today that it doesn't make a season. We must continue the momentum and win more games. We have five very competitive games left, beginning Saturday at 5-1 Northwestern."
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