Smoker, MSU off to great start

Originally Published: October 1, 2003
By Herb Gould | Special to
There's no bigger reason for the resurgence of Michigan State (4-1), which already has equaled last year's win total, than the remarkable comeback of quarterback Jeff Smoker. The fifth-year senior, who left the team with a substance-abuse problem during the season last fall, probably would be first-team All-Big Ten if an educated vote was held today.

Smoker, who's flourishing in new coach John L. Smith's explosive offense, is second in the Big Ten in passing yardage (230 a game) and third in total offense (226.2). "He gives us the one building block we need," Smith said. "He can throw it. And he's starting to become more comfortable in this offense. He's going to get better."

  • Another big reason for the Spartans' surprising start: They lead the Big Ten with a plus-eight turnover advantage. That includes a 4-0 edge in their 20-10 upset of Iowa, which came into the game with a conference-leading, plus-six turnover edge.