EAST LANSING, Mich. – When Jon Reschke reached for the football, he had all intentions of going at it with two hands. A pass thrown by Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer had been intended for Irish wide receiver C.J. Sanders in a short zone, but Reschke, the Michigan State linebacker, ran a better route and was in perfect position to make the interception.
Only thing is that Reschke didn’t have two hands to make the catch. His right hand was perfectly fine, but his left hand was wrapped heavily for protection, making it look more like a door knob than a hand. But you work with what you’ve got, and Reschke did just that by corralling the ball at the Notre Dame 39-yard line with the Spartans already leading 22-7 in the third quarter last Saturday night in South Bend, Ind.
Three plays later, the score was 29-7 after running back L.J. Scott scored on a 9-yard run.
Reschke didn’t play in the Spartans’ season opener against Furman because of the hand injury (the specifics of which have been – pun intended – kept under wraps), but against Notre Dame he led Michigan State with eight tackles, one of them for a loss, a forced fumble and the interception.
The junior from Sterling Heights unleashed a long offseason worth of energy on the Irish, a jolt the Spartans expect every game from Reschke.
“I was itching to get out there. I missed the first game and then we had the bye week so it’s been a while since I’ve gotten on the field,” said Reschke. “And the last time I got on the field against Alabama wasn’t too good, so I was really itching to get out there. I wanted to take that loss and really do something about it.”
Of course, the 38-0 loss in the national semifinals has long been over. There is nothing anyone can do to change what happened that night in Arlington, Texas. But it can be a daily motivator.
“That’s what we’ve got to do,” said Reschke. “We’ve got to play with a chip on our shoulder throughout the whole season and never forget that game.”
Reschke’s return to the starting linebacker group, alongside Riley Bullough and Chris Frey, adds not just energy but experience and depth to the unit. He and Bullough started all 14 games last season with Darien Harris. Frey has replaced Harris at the other outside linebacker spot opposite of Reschke. The only other linebacker with significant starting experience is Ed Davis, who missed last season with a torn ACL and played for one snap against Notre Dame. Shane Jones and Andrew Dowell, who started in place of Reschke against Furman and had four tackles and a sack against Notre Dame, are also in the rotation.
“I got a great room. Those guys are all buddies and it’s all about the team,” said linebackers coach Mark Snyder. “They know they’re all gonna get their snaps. You get as your work deserves and the hot hand is gonna be the guys that are playing, and they understand that.”
Reschke played well from the start.
“I think he played with a great deal of passion and toughness, and, as you said, he was all over the place,” said head coach Mark Dantonio. “I thought he played very well, and I thought he provided a spark for us as well, but we had a lot of guys playing hard, so it was great to see. And I thought we had a lot of guys playing with confidence.”
Reschke’s interception came one play after he had stopped Notre Dame running back Josh Adams for no gain on a well-timed blitz. It was also the first interception of his career, with or without a club for one hand.
Reschke’s big play was made with his head as much as it was his body.
“Our coaches do such a great job going over these plays in practice. I’ve seen it so many times leading up to it, and I know exactly what was going to happen,” said Reschke. “Earlier in the game, Kizer wanted to throw it to him, and he misthrew it, so they came back to it, and I knew he was going to put it right on the money, so I baited him into throwing it.”