Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio talks about the challenges Maryland presents and his team's quarterback situation heading into this weekend. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — Back in the days when the NFL was cracking down on celebrations, it was often referred to as the “No Fun League.”
Anything beyond a few high-fives was often resulting in a penalty. Like it or not, the league has backed off that stance and the celebrations are now as orchestrated as they’ve ever been. The fun is back.
Don’t expect that at the college level, though.
Michigan State got a dose of the no-fun nature of college football last week when it was twice flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for celebrations. The first was when linebacker Tyriq Thompson jarred the ball loose from Purdue tight end Brycen Hopkins and grabbed the ball for an interception. As Thompson and safety Khari Willis celebrated, Thompson went into a few seconds of air guitar.
Out came the flag.
Late in the game, when Jalen Nailor scored on a 48-yard catch and run to put the game away, he and quarterback Rocky Lombardi high-fived a few fans in the student section.
The flags flew once again.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio wasn’t assigning blame on Tuesday when asked if he was afraid the emotion was being taken out of an emotional game.
“I think there's a lot of emotion in the game that probably — I think it probably goes both ways,” Dantonio said. “Sometimes you're saying he should be penalized and sometimes you're saying he shouldn't be. I don't know. I try and let those (referees) do their job.”
Neither penalty ended up hurting Michigan State. After Thompson’s interception the Spartans chewed nearly five minutes off the clock and punted before a blocked field goal ended Purdue’s next possession. And after the penalty in the end zone, the Spartans had to kick off from the 20-yard line, but Purdue’s possession ended on the first play when Matt Morrissey intercepted a David Blough pass.
“The penalty on Rocky was because he came in contact with the fan and the way I understand the rule is you can't be embraced by (team mascot) Sparty, that's the way I understand the rule,” Dantonio said. “I guess they called it the way they saw it. But it doesn't make it any easier when you kick off from the 20, so I would say, stay away from touching anybody's hand, just wave at them.”
And what about Thompson’s move?
“As far as the air guitar, I thought it was a nice dance and everything,” Dantonio said with a smile, “but it again set us back and put us inside the 10. But you know, he had good rhythm.”
The shuffling along the offensive line continued last week as sophomore right guard Kevin Jarvis did not play after seeing action against Michigan. He had missed the previous two games with a bad ankle and was replaced against Purdue by sophomore Luke Campbell. Sophomore center Matt Allen, who hurt his foot against Michigan, did not play last week as redshirt freshman Blake Bueter got the start. And sophomore right tackle Jordan Reid suffered a leg injury in the fourth quarter and was replaced by redshirt freshman AJ Arcuri.
Dantonio confirmed Allen would not play this week against Maryland but wasn’t ruling out Reid, Jarvis or fifth-year senior David Beedle, who has missed the last three games with an arm injury.
“We'll get those guys back and when they get back, we'll be a more versatile team than we were before,” Dantonio said. “I just keep looking at it, you know, sometimes what breaks you down a little bit makes you stronger. So inevitably, they have got to do the job and we'll keep pushing.”
Thompson has started all but one game this season at the SAM linebacker position, but each week he has been listed on the depth chart as a co-starter with sophomore Brandon Bouyer-Randle. Until this week, that is.
“Every week we start him, so just put him out there as a starter,” Dantonio said. “Really I just did that this morning. I said, ‘You know, why play around with it?’ I think Brandon Randle does a lot of good things for us, but Tyriq has been the starter. So, let's not sugarcoat it.”
… Dantonio said sophomore wide receiver Cody White would make the trip to Maryland but his status would be determined throughout the week. White has missed the last four games with a broken hand.