East Lansing — After one game, coach Mark Dantonio wanted to see more from his running game.
Heading into Saturday's matchup against Eastern Michigan, he is hoping a completely healthy running back will kick-start the Michigan State running attack that ranks eighth in the Big Ten after two games.
Senior Jeremy Langford, who had more than 1,400 yards last season and went over the 100-yard mark eight straight times, has been slowed by an ankle injury suffered in Week 1 and admitted he wasn't 100 percent against Oregon in Week 2.
"I feel good going into this game," Langford said. "I feel healthy now. … Especially just practicing one time last week and then having the weekend off and getting to sit around and just relax and not do too much. I feel like I'm getting back up to speed."
With Langford gaining 143 yards on 37 carries in two games, the Spartans likely will start getting more carries for sophomore Delton Williams and possibly redshirt freshman Gerald Holmes, while Dantonio still isn't ruling out playing true freshman Madre London.
He does, however, believe the circumstances of the first two games have played into the rushing numbers not being where the Spartans would have hoped.
"I think it's a little bit skewed because in the first game it was 38-0 at the half (against Jacksonville State), and so we played with our younger players throughout the second half and kept it pretty basic," Dantonio said.
"Then the second game, pretty balanced initially and then we got into the fourth quarter and became more of a throwing game once it was established midway through the fourth quarter that we had to score and score quickly."
Whoever carries the ball, it's the offensive line that has put the responsibility on itself.
"We watched the film and at the end of the third quarter (against Oregon) we stalled out in the run game," senior guard Travis Jackson said.
"As an offensive line, we take full responsibility for that. Up front we weren't really focused and were not finishing blocks on every play and taking each play at a time."
It's been a work in progress for the offensive line that has been a bit thinner than last season. Jackson hurt his back in the opener but hasn't missed any time, while senior right guard Connor Kruse injured his leg in camp.
Michigan State is hoping to get Kruse back next week, but his absence has shuffled the right side with junior Donavon Clark at right guard and sophomore Kodi Kieler at right tackle.
But offensive line coach Mark Staten noticed a difference against Oregon he isn't used to seeing.
"There was a little bit of a lull and that in itself has been addressed, will be addressed again if it happens," he said.
"We've got a lot of guys still at that younger age that maybe haven't experienced games like we've had in the past, so it comes with it and it will continue to be a teaching lesson. In life you either learn from it or it hurts you again. We have to learn from it, put our foot in the ground and keep marching forward."
It appears Eastern Michigan is just the right team to march forward against. It is allowing 211 yards rushing, and gave up 259 in a loss at Florida.
And the Spartans are confident this week will be the start of a resurgent running attack.
"You'll see on Saturday all the things we've changed and how far we've come," left tackle Jack Conklin said.
"You'll see Jeremy Langford getting 100 yards like he was at the end of last year. I think you'll see a completely different running game."
Eastern Michigan at Michigan State
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Records: Eastern Michigan 1-2, No. 11 Michigan State 1-1
Line: Michigan State by 45½
Series: Michigan State leads, 9-0 (Michigan State 23-7, Sept. 22, 2012)
Did you know? Michigan State has defeated Eastern Michigan by an average of 36-7.