Michigan State sophomore CB Vayante Copeland is out for the season with a broken foot, coach Mark Dantonio told reporters Sunday night on a conference call.
It’s the second year in a row Copeland’s season has ended early because of injury. He suffered a neck injury against Oregon in Week 2 of 2015 but returned this season and played in five games with five starts. Copeland suffered a hip flexor during the 28-17 loss at Maryland on Oct. 22 and did not play against Michigan on Oct. 29. He returned to practice last Tuesday but, Dantonio said, broke his foot on Wednesday.
Copeland did not make the trip to Champaign for Saturday’s 31-27 loss at Illinois.
Dantonio says Vayante Copeland is out for the season with a broken foot.
— Kevin Goheen (@CincyGoGo) November 6, 2016
“It’s an adjustment getting back and playing after a year off. I think he’s a good player. I think he’s worked hard,” Dantonio said. “When he finally got healthy, he had a good practice I think on Tuesday, so it must have been Wednesday when he broke it. Adds to our injury situation.”
Copeland made 36 tackles and had 1 interception this season. As a freshman, he made 7 tackles and 1 interception in two games.
As Dantonio alluded to, Michigan State’s health status isn’t good.
In other news, Dantonio said it was too early to provide any status updates on senior starting QB Tyler O’Connor and junior DE Malik McDowell. Both left the game against Illinois during the second half with injuries. McDowell was hurt in the third quarter with what the Spartan radio broadcast termed as “rolled ankle.” One play after McDowell exited the game, Illinois RB Kendrick Foster scored on a 64-yard run through the middle of the line of scrimmage. O’Connor was injured on a successful fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak. Dantonio said after the game that O’Connor “got his bell rung” and it was bad enough that O’Connor wasn’t allowed to return to play.
The Spartans also played without starting LT Kodi Kieler, and safeties Montae Nicholson and Khari Willis because of unspecified injuries. Kieler didn’t dress for the game. Nicholson and Willis were game-time decisions and deemed unable to play.
Some other highlights of Dantonio’s call:
- Redshirt freshman OT Cole Chewins impressed the head coach in playing right tackle for the first time when senior Miguel Machado and freshman Thiyo Lukusa were ineffective. Chewins moved to left tackle after sophomore David Beedle, who started in place of Kieler, got hurt. “He’s gonna be a good player for us” Dantonio said of Chewins. “He’s a redshirt freshman and is continuing to grow and put on weight. He played hard. It’s very meaningful to him. And I thought he did pretty well.”
- Senior TE Jamal Lyles didn’t make the trip because of a violation of team rules. Dantonio declined to specify the violation but said that Lyles is now back with the team.
- Dantonio reiterated the plan is for freshman quarterback Messiah deWeaver to redshirt this season, despite O’Connor’s injury. Junior Damion Terry replaced O’Connor and led Michigan State on two scoring drives. He nearly pulled off a last-second win but was stopped short of a first down on fourth-and-2 from the Illinois 15-yard line with 19 seconds to play. Tight end Josiah Price was open on a route near the goal line but Terry didn’t have time to find him. “He got forced out of the pocket,” Dantonio said. “I thought he was very competitive, I thought he was loose. I thought he played with confidence and he made some plays. He took us down the field twice.”
- The team hasn’t quit playing hard, which gives Dantonio hope better days are near. “You’ve got to look at that and say there’s no quit, we’re not quitting. And it’s tough. It’s tough when you go through this. There’s an outside world attacking our players, too. And me probably, too. I’m sure me. I just don’t read the papers as much.”