Defense carries Michigan State to 21-6 win over South Florida

Associated Press
Updated 9/7/2013 5:55 PM
  • Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun picks up a fumble and returns it for a touchdown in front of South Florida's Darrell Williams during the second quarter Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.

    Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun picks up a fumble and returns it for a touchdown in front of South Florida's Darrell Williams during the second quarter Saturday in East Lansing, Mich. Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Shilique Calhoun has reached the end zone more than any other Michigan State player this season.

That's not the best news for the Spartans because Calhoun plays defensive end -- but the 6-foot-4, 250-pound sophomore is enjoying himself so far.

"Through camp, we discussed being able to score on defense," a smiling Calhoun said. "Even if our offense is good -- even if they're doing great -- we still wanted to make that another aspect to our game, to be able to score on defense."

Michigan State's offense hasn't been very good so far, but Calhoun scored on a fumble return and an interception return Saturday, and the Spartans beat South Florida 21-6. The defense has scored four of Michigan State's six touchdowns this season. Calhoun has three of them.

The Spartans (2-0) rotated Connor Cook, Tyler O'Connor and Andrew Maxwell at quarterback, but their offense scored only once against South Florida. So the quarterback situation remains unresolved after two games.

"I don't think it's any clearer -- they scored one touchdown today," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "I could come in here and be politically correct or I could just tell you as it is. I think more people would rather hear me tell it as it is."

South Florida (0-2) was routed in its opener by McNeese State, and the Bulls couldn't get anything going offensively Saturday. Bobby Eveld was 6 of 25 for 66 yards with a fumble and an interception.

"It's very frustrating," Eveld said. "Obviously you talk about not turning the ball over, period, and then having the other defense score just kind of ruins it for you."

Michigan State's offense finally scored in the fourth quarter when Jeremy Langford ran 2 yards for a touchdown. That drive was only 33 yards after a short South Florida punt.

Michigan State's defense scored two of the team's three touchdowns in a season-opening win over Western Michigan last week. That included a fumble return by Calhoun, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end.

Calhoun opened the scoring Saturday with a 4-yard fumble return in the second quarter, and with Michigan State clinging to a 7-6 lead in the third, Eveld was hit as he threw. The ball floated to Calhoun, who returned it 56 yards for another touchdown.

"Shilique -- he's our running back on defense, I guess," defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. "Hand it off to him, let him go."

Neither Maxwell nor Cook was very effective in Michigan State's opener, and Maxwell didn't play at all in the first half Saturday. After a 67-minute weather delay before the opening kickoff, Cook got the start for the Spartans. He went 6 of 11 for 32 yards in the game and also lost a fumble.

Dantonio was asked how concerned he is that the offense won't improve fast enough.

"On a scale of 1 to 10?" Dantonio said. "I'd say it's about an eight. Is that good enough? I'm concerned."

O'Connor, a redshirt freshman, came in near the end of the first quarter, and on his second drive, the Spartans made it all the way to the South Florida 3-yard line. But they couldn't reach the end zone and came away with no points when Kevin Muma missed a 25-yard field goal.

On the next play, Michigan State finally scored when Eveld was hit by Tyler Hoover and lost the ball. Calhoun scooped it up and took it in.

South Florida's Marvin Kloss kicked two field goals before halftime -- the second came after a fumble by Michigan State punt returner Andre Sims.

Eveld was replaced by Steven Bench after his interception, but he returned by the end of the third quarter. Matt Floyd, who threw two interceptions against McNeese State, did not play against Michigan State.

Marcus Shaw ran for 94 yards on 23 carries for the Bulls.

Maxwell started the second half for Michigan State and went 4 of 9 for 40 yards. Dantonio said freshman Damion Terry, another option at quarterback, wasn't able to take any reps during the week because of strep throat and a thumb injury. Terry hasn't played in a game yet.

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