Spartans perplexed by amount, type of penalties called

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Good calls or not, penalties are starting to become a huge issue for Michigan State.

After committing 14 for 122 yards in the opener against Tulsa before seemingly getting things squared away in a Week 2 win over Western Michigan when it was flagged just twice, Michigan State was nailed 10 times for 91 yards in Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Arizona State.

“I think that they need to take a good hard look at the officiating and that's all I'll say, because there were some disputes out there,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “That's all I'll say about that. You got to play the game.”

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio

Probably Dantonio’s most legitimate gripe was the fact a defender leapt over the long-snapper on Matt Coghlin’s 47-yard field-goal attempt as time expired. The proper call would have given Michigan State another shot 15 yards closer.

It was a call that the officials missed said Fox analyst Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating from 2013 to 2017

“He’s moving toward the line of scrimmage. He runs, he jumps over the line,” Blandino said. “That’s a foul for leaping. You have to be stationary on the line to jump over that plane, over your opponent. That’s a 15-yard penalty and they get another shot if that flag is thrown.”

It’s ironic, considering the same call helped Michigan State lose to Indiana in 2016 when Drake Martinez was called. The Hoosiers got a second chance and cashed in. This time, there was no second chance, but the grumbling had been going for most of the game.

Another critical call came in the fourth quarter after Michigan State had just taken a 7-3 lead. Defensive end Kenny Willekes forced a fumble from Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels and MSU recovered. It would have essentially locked up the win for the Spartans, but defensive tackle Raequan Williams was called for illegal hands to the face.

His hands did touch the offensive lineman’s face, but more egregious fouls have been ignored.

“I didn’t even know they called it on me,” Williams said.

The Spartans finished with three 15-yard penalties and, of course, too many men on the field to end the game.

“I gave you some of my thoughts on it,” Dantonio said. “I’m not one to stand up here and criticize officials. I never have. So, I'll let everybody take a look at those. The people who should be looking at those can take a look at those. In other words, the officiating groups themselves. I'll let them handle that. I'm not going to go off on that, but there are a lot of things that set us back and some were in question.

“We get we get a fumble recovery and I didn’t see a flag and all the sudden flags are out when we just scored, so there's a lot of different things you can look at and I'm sure you guys look at a little closer than I will.”

O-line injuries mount

Injuries continue to be a problem for Michigan State’s offensive line.

The Spartans are already playing without left tackle Cole Chewins and backup AJ Arcuri, who missed Saturday’s game after seeing time on special teams in the first two game.

On Saturday, a third left tackle joined the walking wounded as junior Kevin Jarvis suffered a leg injury late in the first half and did not return.

“No update on Kevin right now,” Dantonio said.

With Jarvis out, the Spartans turned to fifth-year senior Tyler Higby, who started three games at left tackle in 2018. Junior left guard Luke Campbell also suffered a leg injury but returned to the game.

Extra points

Sophomore cornerback Shakur Brown missed his second straight game. Sophomore defensive end Jack Camper was dressed for the first time this season but did not play.

… Senior linebacker Joe Bachie led the Spartans with a season-high 12 tackles, marking his 10th career game with double-figure tackles.

… Junior linebacker Antjuan Simmons collected a career-high nine tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

… Senior defensive end Kenny Willekes recorded seven tackles, including two tackles for loss and a half sack. He also had five quarterback hurries. Willekes now has 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks this season . . . Willekes has 41.5 tackles for loss in his career, sixth most in MSU history.

… Senior Darrell Stewart posted his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game with nine catches for 121 yards.

Twitter @mattcharboneau