Iowa City, Iowa Mark Dantonio has proven he has no problem playing true freshmen at Michigan State.
OK, that might apply at every position other than quarterback true freshman Damion Terry did not make the trip Saturday but Dantonio's mantra that the best players will play was on display again during a 26-14 victory over Iowa.
Kicker Michael Geiger shook off an early miss to make four field goals, including a career-best 49-yarder, and wide receiver R.J. Shelton came inches from breaking a big play in his first game as Michigan State's primary kick returner.
And while cornerback Darian Hicks continued to see limited playing time he replaced Darqueze Dennard for a play when the senior was shaken up the real news Saturday came with the appearance of running back Delton Williams.
Dantonio indicated during the week he might take the redshirt off the 6-foot-1, 220-pound clone of Le'Veon Bell, but through two-and-a-half quarters Williams remained on the sideline.
That all changed with 4:15 to play in the third quarter and Michigan State holding a 17-14 lead.
"Coming into the second half I thought, 'Probably not today, Williams said. "But then I heard my name and was ready to go."
Williams carried three straight times on that first drive, gaining eight yards. But Dantonio stuck with the youngster in crunch time and he responded by finishing with 32 yards on nine carries with a long of 11 yards.
"He's just more of a banger," Dantonio said. "He's elusive in the hole, has good vision in the hole and we wanted to play him. We're gonna have to have three running backs and now was the time."
Williams is now a third option along with juniors Jeremy Langford and Nick Hill after Riley Bullough was moved to fullback.
He got plenty of work during the bye week and Williams said the veteran running backs have helped him as much as they can.
"I felt my coaches and teammates had confidence in me and I had to prove myself as a young buck," Williams said. "I wanted to play and do anything I could to help the team out. A redshirt is good, but if I can help the team now I will. We've got a goal and we're chasing it. I got a lot of carries in the fourth quarter and I know the coaches are looking at me and giving me more time. I'm happy about that."
Sophomore defensive tackle Damon Knox left the game in the third quarter with what appeared to be an ankle injury. He was clipped on the play by Iowa's Andrew Donnal and was helped off the field.
He did not return and his status is unclear.
Sophomore defensive tackle Lawrence Thomas dressed for the first time this season but did not play.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook registered career highs in pass completions (25), passing attempts (44) and passing yards (277)
Senior wide receiver Bennie Fowler recorded a career-high nine catches for 92 yards.
Sophomore receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. had a career-high 94 receiving yards and tied his career high with five receptions. He also collected a career-high 147 all-purpose yards.