Michigan State football’s Xavier Henderson Darius Snow was injured, leaving the defense tied up

EAST LANSING — Xavier Henderson walked off the field quietly. Darius Snow had to be helped through it.

One game into the new season, and Michigan State football has already dealt with two seemingly significant injuries to its defense.

Neither player played in the second half of the 14th-ranked Spartans’ 35-13 win over Western Michigan on Friday night, and Henderson returned wearing a brace on his right leg and walking on crutches.

MSU coach Mel Tucker did not provide an update on either Henderson, a fifth-year senior safety and captain, or Snow, a junior linebacker.

Michigan State linebacker Darius Snow (23) runs off the field during the first half against Western Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

“I can’t give you anything right now. I’ll learn a lot more tomorrow,” Tucker said. “Maybe by Monday or a little later, when I get back with you, maybe I can give me more. It remains to be seen.”

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Henderson left the game with 8:53 left in the second quarter after being chased on a third-and-goal by WMU quarterback Jack Salopek.

Snow had to be helped off the field with an apparent right leg injury after teammate Chester Kimbrough tackled him for a turnover with 2:17 left in the half.

Kendell Brooks replaced Henderson at safety, and was in and out of the game injured at times in the second half. And Angelo Grose at other safety also left the game with an apparent injury for a while, but returned.

Losing both Henderson and Snow could be a problem, but Tucker said he didn’t feel it against the Broncos.

“I didn’t see much of a drop in communication out there,” Tucker said. “But again, I had to watch the film and see some of the details of what’s going on out there. But I saw the balance from the guys that were out there. Scottie did a good job of calling them early so they could be in line so they could get the information so they had time to communicate. And we played the things we had, called the things we have. It wasn’t like we felt like we had to line up on one thing because the kids couldn’t function.”

Michigan State safeties Xavier Henderson, left, and Angelo Grose run a drill during football practice Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in East Lansing.

Michigan State safeties Xavier Henderson, left, and Angelo Grose run a drill during football practice Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in East Lansing.

They weren’t the only ones going out.

Wide receiver Jayden Reed went down hard 43 seconds after Snow was injured while making a 26-yard plunge on a throw from quarterback Payton Thorne. The old man landed on his left hip and left elbow, which already had a tape on the back of his arm, and fell limp to the side. Reed also held his left arm close to his body before joining Snow at the injury scene.

Reed returned after halftime and played on offense, but was unable to make a catch and finished with two catches for 31 yards. He had a punt return (two for 21 yards), but Reed was stripped of kickoff returns in the second half.

Defensive end Avery Dunn also left the game in the third quarter with an injury.

Defensive tackles Dashaun Mallory and Jalen Hunt were no match for MSU’s defense, along with defensive end Michael Fletcher and wide receivers Montorie Foster and Terry Lockett Jr.

Almost devastating

Thorne also scared MSU fans.

The quarterback took off running midway through the third quarter on a rollout, swinging wide-open running back Jarek Broussard down the field. As Thorne crossed the first-down marker and began to slide, WMU’s Dalton Bussell came in and cracked him on the right side of his cage.

The trainers came out and helped Thorne off the field, much to his dismay.

Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne warms up before the game against Western Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne warms up before the game against Western Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

“First, I was nervous about having to go out for a show. Our trainers were just doing their job going out there, but I wasn’t happy they came there,” Thorne said. “I was down for a second and obviously it took me really well. They thought he hit me on the head, which I didn’t think he did. I thought it did my ribs pretty good. But then he cramped my leg right as I was down, right as he hit me. I couldn’t get up.”

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This gave Noah Kim his first collegiate game action. And offensive coordinator Jay Johnson immediately gave the sophomore quarterback a deep ball to Reed, and the throw near the goal line managed to draw a 15-yard pass interference penalty on the Broncos’ Keni-H Lovely.

“I’m not surprised Coach Johnson called that at all. Not at all,” said Thorne. “But it was a good job Noah got in there and put one in.”

It’s playing now

MSU quickly involved several newcomers. Including six true freshmen.

The biggest play came from wide receiver Germie Bernard, who leapt on a Thorne throw and ran for a 44-yard touchdown in the first game of his college career. He was only targeted one other time in the game.

“He’s a very good player,” Thorne said of Bernard. “We’re excited about what he brings to the table. And that’s just an example of what he’s been doing all year in practice.”

Receiver Tyrell Henry made a quick impact on special teams by diving on Bryce Baringer’s first sack inside the WMU 5. Safety Jaden Mangham played a significant amount in the second half after Henderson left the game.

Jack Stone also started at kicker and kickoff, making all five of his point-after attempts and receiving three touchbacks among his six kickoffs. However, he missed his only field goal attempt and didn’t exactly get Tucker’s thumbs up after beating sophomore Stephen Rusnak and Auburn transfer Ben Patton, who were both in uniform.

“Everything is always up for evaluation,” Tucker said. “We had competition in camp and so he won that competition based on what he did in practice compared to the other guys. Sometimes there isn’t that much of a difference. But you’ve got to put somebody out there and that’s how he got the nod.”

Michigan State's Daniel Barker (9) tries to beat Western Michigan defensive end Zaire Barnes (3) during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

Michigan State’s Daniel Barker (9) tries to beat Western Michigan defensive end Zaire Barnes (3) during the second half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.

Other rookies who got snaps were defensive end Zion Young and defensive tackle Alex VanSumeren.

MSU’s first-year transfers also provided crucial production.

On offense, Jalen Berger (Wisconsin) had 120 yards on 16 carries with a sack and Jarek Broussard (Colorado) contributed 10 carries for 54 yards. Daniel “DJ” Barker caught a 13-yard pass from Thorne and also had two carries, including a 4-yard rip for a first down on third-and-short.

“We taught DJ how to lower his pads,” Berger said after a laugh. “He’s closed, he runs a little high. But he will have his chances.”

Brian Green (Washington State) was one of just seven offensive linemen used, working as a backup at both the left and right guard positions.

Defensively, Jacoby Windmon – brought in from UNLV as a linebacker – started at defensive end and had a monster game with four sacks among his seven tackles. Khris Bogle (Florida) came off the bench behind Windmon and added a sack among his three tackles.

Ameer Speed ​​(Georgia) played nearly every snap at cornerback and had six tackles, while linebacker Aaron Brule (Mississippi State) was sacked for his only tackle.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more about the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Michigan State football starting quarterback injured in opening game

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