East Lansing — Mark Dantonio isn’t worried LJ Scott has a fumbling problem.
That doesn’t mean the Michigan State coach isn’t disappointed by the fact the junior running back lost two fumbles against Bowling Green, the first happening near the goal line and the second getting scooped up and returned for a touchdown by the Falcons.
However, he still believes last season’s leading rusher will find his rhythm as the season progresses.
“You know, it happens,” Dantonio said. “Yeah, am I disappointed? I get frustrated just like he does. He’s more frustrated than I am, and now we just move on. Obviously, you can’t do that on a consistent basis, but I don’t really worry about him — I don’t worry about that being a problem with him. I think he’s a very good running back, and I think he’s got talent and he’ll be confident, and he’ll be excited to play.”
Entering the season, Scott had fumbled five times on 330 carries over the course of 26 games. However, he had off-season surgery on both shoulders to correct what he called numbness when taking big hits, making the fact he lost two in the opener all the more concerning.
After the game, co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner called the fumble near the goal line unacceptable. Scott was hit hard in the back, much like he was last season against Wisconsin when his second-half fumble was returned for a touchdown and turned the tide in Michigan State’s first loss.
While Dantonio has said there won’t be any change in the fact Michigan State will continue to rotate backs — Scott started 10 of 12 games last season, and started against Bowling Green — the fact both fifth-year senior Gerald Holmes and junior Madre London ran well against the Falcons could see a bit of an adjustment in the work load.
Scott carried 15 times last week for 39 yards, an average of just 2.6 yard a carry. London and Holmes were more effective, with London carrying 10 times for 54 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown run, and Holmes gaining 40 yards on nine carries.
“I think LJ is a proven commodity, first of all, like the rest of our running backs,” Dantonio said. “They are guys that have carried the ball a lot. They have gained the yards and played against good competition and made plays and been consistent.”
Better behind Lewerke
While the running back position is clear in terms of who’s involved, the quarterback situation continues to be a work in progress behind starter Brian Lewerke.
Dantonio took Lewerke out in the fourth quarter on Saturday, but after two lackluster series, he put his starter back in the game. Fifth-year senior Damion Terry couldn’t get the offense moving and Dantonio said redshirt freshman Messiah deWeaver was held out because of a minor injury.
That’s why he put Lewerke back in to close the game.
“Damion … he’s better than that performance that happened out there,” Dantonio said. “I think that’s what he has to concentrate on. He’s played well for us in the past and for whatever reason, I just felt like we didn’t want to end the game in that fashion, and we’re going to make sure that you go in and you make plays. So, that was the mindset there.”
Dantonio didn’t indicate freshman Rocky Lombardi is any closer to the No. 2 position while also acknowledging how much progress he has made.
“Let’s just put it this way: He’s far ahead of most freshmen,” Dantonio said of Lombardi. “So, that’s been a good thing to see.”
There were no updates from Dantonio on injuries, a practice he has typically stuck with through the years, opting only to announce when a player is lost for the season.
Both right guard David Beedle and defensive end Demetrius Cooper left Saturday’s game. However, both remained on an unchanged depth chart from last week. Dantonio hinted, at least, that Cooper’s injury was not serious.
“He’ll be ready I think, but we’ll see,” Dantonio said.
Quote of the day from Dantonio, when talking about the progress punter Jake Hartbarger has made, “I always sort of joke with Jake, it’s like going to the fair now. Early on, he’s got to come out and concentrate and now it’s like going to the fair. See if I can hit these baskets here and go and shoot over here or toss a ball over here. He’s bombing those things.”