November 4, 2012

Coaches sound off on Adams call

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coaches were split on their reaction to the controversial personal foul call on Johnny Adams, Saturday.

Head coach Mark Dantonio was reserved in his response. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi wasn't.

Adams was called for a personal foul for a hard block on Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell during Dennard's 100-yard interception return for an apparent touchdown. The TD was called back due to the personal foul and MSU was given possession at its own 10-yard line with 10:42 remaining.

Spartan players celebrated what they thought was a play that had given them a 31-14 fourth-quarter lead. Instead, MSU saw those points come off the board, as well as 90 yards of field position.

MSU punted to Nebraska three plays later, and the Huskers resumed their comeback bid at their own 42-yard line with 9:05 remaining.

For an instant, Dennard's interception looked like MSU's biggest play of the season and one of the most breath-taking plays by a Spartan defensive back in program history. In the end, the interception merely cost Nebraska 48 yards of field position and 2 minutes, 37 seconds of playing time.

Narduzzi was asked if he knew what Adams did to draw the penalty.

"No clue. No clue at all," Narduzzi said. "That's just ... talk about taking it out of kids' hands and putting it in somebody else's.

"It was a heck of a return by Darqueze. We said we were going to score today (on defense) and I thought we did. I don't know what the problem was, but I guess you're not allowed to block on defense, you're only allowed to block on offense."

Replays show that Adams blocked Bell with his right shoulder, hard into Bell's upper left chest area.

Bell had just started to ease up into a trot when Adams hit him.

Adams eased up as he made contact, rather than launching through Bell.

Dennard was at MSU's own 35-yard line, cutting and darting to avoid Huskers, when Adams hit Bell.

After making the hard block on Bell, Adams then sprinted toward Dennard and caught up to his teammate that Nebraska 20-yard line, and helped escort him into the end zone.

Two Nebraska offensive linemen were near Bell when Adams took Bell out. Those two offensive linemen continued to pursue Dennard for more than 50 yards and nearly drew even with Dennard at the Husker 20-yard line, suggesting that Bell, a speedy wide receiver, was more than capable of doing the same and possibly tackling Dennard if he had not eased up and seemingly quit on the play. Adams made sure he didn't have a chance to chase down Dennard by blocking Bell good and hard, but apparently too good and hard.

Dantonio was reluctant to comment on the penalty after the game, having not yet seen film of Adams' block.

"I'm not sure what happened," Dantonio said. "I didn't see it because I was looking at the return."

During a TV time out a few minutes later, Dantonio was far out on the field speaking heatedly with two officials about the call.

"I got an explanation on it but I couldn't see it on the video so I really can't comment on it," he said. "There were two flags thrown on it.

"We have a chance to go up 31-14. That's a tough one.

"I will say this, it's just a bad penalty to have any way you cut it. There were too many unforced penalties on our end that hurt us in the game. You can't have those, they're going to come back and get you."

Narduzzi was also asked about two other controversial calls that went against Michigan State, a "high hit" personal foul on Kurtis Drummond in the first half, and the late pass interference call on Dennard on third down, which set up Nebraska's game-winning TD.
"Players play, coaches coach, officials try to officiate the best they can," Narduzzi said. "I guess they saw it that way. From the booth, I didn't see it (pass interference) that way."

As for Drummond's high hit penalty, Narduzzi said: "Ask them, I have no idea. It was ... whatever. Go ask those guys (the officials), they might be in a (interview) trailer somewhere."

Coaches meet with media in interview trailers after the game. Officials do not.

Dantonio was diplomatic in his thoughts about the high hit personal foul, and even pointed out that MSU erred in even having Drummond near the QB to make the high hit on that play.

"I've said this before: Everybody is trying to do the very best they can," Dantonio said. "I don't think anybody is out for Michigan State, I don't think anybody is out for Nebraska. It's an instinctive game and it's instinctive for officials too.

"All I can tell you is the guy running up there to make the hit (Drummond) should've been in coverage. He should have been back 15 yards away, so he had no business being up there on a quarterback sack. So, unforced error on our part."

Dantonio said teams are having to adapts to quick flags thrown for the purpose of protecting players.

"They're erring on protecting the player," Dantonio said. "They had a couple on the sidelines; we had a couple on the sidelines. There's no risk of anybody getting hurt, there's just people running to the football and the flags are coming out quick. That's the way the game is being played everywhere in the country right now and we need to be smarter in terms of how we approach that."

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