EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State was already down two starting linebackers, a starting cornerback and a key defensive lineman because of injuries heading into its game against Brigham Young on Saturday. Watching senior offensive lineman Kodi Kieler walk off the field to the locker room late in the second half only added to the Spartans’ pain.
When Kieler did return it was in a sweatsuit and he was forced to join Riley Bullough, Jon Reschke and Raequan Williams on the sideline as a spectator to the team’s 31-14 loss to BYU at Spartan Stadium. Redshirt freshman Cole Chewins replaced Kieler at left tackle. Kieler started in place of David Beedle, who had struggled the last two games. Redshirt freshman Tyler Higby started at left guard as Brandon Clemons moved to the defensive line to fill in for the absent Williams and Malik McDowell, who was suspended for the first half because of a targeting penalty he received in the loss at Indiana last week.
No one from Michigan State used the injuries as an excuse, but there’s no doubt that at some point, the next-man-up theory reaches a limit.
“You would like to think that the guys that were their backups could come in and prove that ‘I need to be a guy that’s considered as a starter’ but again there’s reasons why starters are starters, guys that have earned those positions and the best players play,” defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said. “So we do miss that a little bit, but there’s no excuses, you still got to come in and play, whoever you are, you better come in and play and play well.”
Coach Mark Dantonio did not give any updates on Kieler’s health, nor anyone else. Reschke suffered a severe ankle injury against Wisconsin on Sept. 24 and is expected to miss a few more games, although no timetable has been given for his return. Bullough sat out his third straight game with an undisclosed injury, but could be closer to returning. Senior cornerback Darian Hicks did not play after being hurt at Indiana. Sophomore Tyson Smith started in his place, while freshman Justin Layne was moved from wide receiver to defensive back during practice this week and saw plenty of action.
“I think we still have depth,” junior linebacker Chris Frey said. “We have guys that can come in the game and know what they’re doing. It just comes down to doing your job and beating the man across from you.”
Michigan State didn’t do much beating of anyone from BYU. The Cougars outgained Michigan State 398-206. Senior running back Jamaal Williams was held to 54 yards on his first 17 carries of the game but then ripped off 109 yards on his final 13 carries, including a pair of touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Goheen covers Michigan State for Landof10.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CincyGoGo