MSU Coach Mark Dantonio on chasing perfection.
East Lansing — Michigan State planned to get plenty of players into the game Saturday against Eastern Michigan, but five quarterbacks was likely far more than anyone expected.
That's easier to do when you win by a score of 73-14, and that's just what Michigan State did Saturday. So with starter Connor Cook giving way to Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry for much of the second and third quarters, it was time for the walk-ons late in the game.
That's when junior Tommy Vento and sophomore Paul Andrie got a chance to play, with Vento handing off to Delton Williams on his 80-yard touchdown run.
"I don't think I've ever seen that," offensive coordinator Dave Warner said with a laugh.
But as interesting as it was to see that many quarterbacks play, the rotation of O'Connor and Terry was the most intriguing.
There is no doubting Cook is the starter, but Terry got plenty of work along with O'Connor, who got his first career touchdown pass while Terry recorded his first completion.
"We had a package for Damion Terry, that was a personnel package," coach Mark Dantonio said. "We wanted to see what Tyler O'Connor could do in the first half as well. Any time you put people into pressure situations, you are going to see how they perform a little bit more clearly.
"With the game going in the direction it was, I didn't want to play just Connor Cook in the first half. I wanted those guys to run the offense when it was a little more open in terms of passing and running the football."
O'Connor finished 4-for-5 for 58 yards and a 33-yard touchdown to AJ Troup; however, he did have an interception. Terry was 5-for-8 for 19 yards and ran three times for 17 yards.
"There's nothing like getting live reps," O'Connor said. "Today was a lot of fun, and I thought I played pretty well."
As for Terry, the redshirt freshman, it was the most extensive action he has seen. And the offensive package he ran helped show the dual-threat many people have clamored for since he arrived on campus last fall.
"I was getting antsy over the first two weeks," Terry said, "but I'm glad it's in and hopefully it rides out and does really well the rest of the year."
Seventy-four players got into the game for Michigan State, and while it provided valuable experience for young players like linebacker Jon Reschke and safety Montae Nicholson, it also was a chance for many players who rarely see the field to play.
Some of the highlights came for Vento and Andrie as well as running back Phillip-Michael Williams, who had three carries.
"We've got a long season in front of us and it was the smart thing to do it how we played," Warner said. "The neat thing was to see the other guys that practice, some of the walk-on kids that never get an opportunity to play in Spartan Stadium, and they got that opportunity today and I'm happy for those guys."
Jack of all trades
Junior Brandon Clemons, who played offensive line against Jacksonville State and defensive line against Oregon, played both sides of the ball Saturday. He got his first taste of offense in last year's Rose Bowl practice before moving back to that said just before the beginning of the season when guard Connor Kruse was hurt.
"The coaches are kind of playing tug of war with me," he said. "But I'm getting more reps on offense in practice because I'm still learning."
He played at right guard on offense and was on the field for part of the first half and most of the second.
"I definitely need it," he said. "I got a lot of plays on offense and I know the coaches have high expectations for me, but I'm critical of myself, too, and I'll keep perfecting my craft."
Michigan State played without tight end Andrew Gleichert and defensive tackle James Kittredge while defensive tackle Damion Knox and Kruse continued to heal from injuries. All could return next week against Wyoming.
… Running back Gerald Holmes left the game in the fourth quarter after suffering what appeared to be a leg injury.
… Michigan State's seven rushing touchdowns were its most since it had a school-record 10 against Northwestern in 1989.
… The 28 first-quarter points marked the most scored by the Spartans in a quarter since 2005, when they scored 28 in the second quarter at Illinois.