By Steve wilaj
East Lansing, Mich.
After beating Youngstown State 55-17 Saturday, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi admitted the game meant more to him than most of the Spartans.
“It’s an emotional game,” he said. “[Head] Coach [Mark] Dantonio always talks about how things are personal and this was a personal game for me.”
Narduzzi played for the Penguins in 1985 under his father Bill Narduzzi, who coached YSU for 10 years — 1975-85 — and was fired.
“But it doesn’t matter,” Pat Narduzzi said. “I’m not playing. It’s got to be personal for the kids.”
Along with Narduzzi, the game was also personal for starting free safety Kurtis Drummond.
A 2010 Hubbard graduate, Drummond led the Spartans’ defense to a dominating performance. He had four tackles as MSU held the Penguins — who set a school-record in total yards (718) last week — to just 172 yards.
Then again, it was just another typical performance from a defense that ranks among the best in the nation.
“It’s a good feeling to be a part of one of the best defenses in the country at this moment,” Drummond said. “But we know it’s still early in the season and we have goals ahead of us that we want to accomplish, so by no means are we satisfied with where we are at.”
Still, Dantonio — who was YSUs defensive coordinator from 1986-90 — was satisfied with the way his defense handled the Penguins.
“Youngstown State is tied together very well offensively,” he said. “They made some things difficult for us a little bit with some different formations and things of that nature.”
He added that MSU handled the Penguins’ option well.
“With the option game, you have the opportunity to come up one short sometimes,” Dantonio said. “But I thought our defense tackled very well and didn’t give up the big play other than one time, and that’s a positive.”
Drummond, who has 17 tackles and a highlight-reel interception this season, said he enjoyed playing against his hometown team.
“When I was a kid, the only camps I did was YSU football camps,” he said. “I grew up going to their football games and basketball games. So it was fun.”
And while it was an enjoyable victory for Narduzzi and Drummond, Dantonio hopes the Spartans can carry the momentum into next week’s matchup at Notre Dame.
“I don’t care who you’re playing against,” Dantonio said. “Any time you don’t let an offense get over 200 yards, I’d say you’re playing well. It’s a big team win.”