Freshman S Jaden Mangham makes a good first impression for Michigan State football

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Here are the Michigan State football players who helped or hurt their stock in the Spartans’ 27-13 loss at Maryland on Saturday.

Three up

RB Elijah Collins:Welcome back, Elijah. The senior ran like his 2019 version, powering through would-be tacklers and showing shiftiness on a 12-yard touchdown run to cap MSU’s first drive of the game. He finished with 36 yards on five carries, as offensive coordinator Jay Johnson used Jalen Berger more in the second half. However, Collins was all over the field on special teams units, adding a pair of tackles.

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S Jaden Mangham: The true freshman made his first start as MSU revamped its secondary, with Angelo Grose shifting to nickel back. It took some acclimation, but Mangham eased into his new role and finished with six tackles. Injured senior Xavier Henderson made the trip and did some agility drills on his own, but he remains in a knee brace and doesn’t appear to be returning anytime soon. That could give Mangham more snaps to prepare for a larger role in 2023.

Maryland tight end Corey Dyches cuts in front of Michigan State safety Jaden Mangham during the first quarter of MSU's 27-13 loss on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in College Park, Maryland.
Maryland tight end Corey Dyches cuts in front of Michigan State safety Jaden Mangham during the first quarter of MSU's 27-13 loss on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in College Park, Maryland.

DT Simeon Barrow: It didn’t look like the sophomore would be available after last week’s loss to Minnesota, but Barrow provided the Spartans’ first sack since Week 2 when he was near Taulia Tagovailoa as he tripped. That not-really-a-sack was almost a reward for the pressure from Barrow on the previous drive, when burst through the line and chased the Terps quarterback without recording a sack — one of the few times MSU’s defense flushed him from the pocket. With Jacob Slade still out and Jalen Hunt also not making the trip to Maryland, Barrow produced four tackles, including 1½ for a loss.

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Three down

Defense: Saturday brough another abysmal start for MSU, starting with Maryland winning the coin flip and opting to take the ball. The Spartans were carved up by Taulia Tagovailoa for 121 of the Terrapins’ 178 yards on their first two possessions, both of which resulted in touchdowns. Maryland continued to convert on third down on its third TD drive, including a 15-yard Tagovailoa pass on a busted play and another 11-yarder when the Terps needed 10. Although the Spartans settled in during the second half, allowing just six points, they gave up a 68-yard run to Antwain Littleton II that was the result of pre-snap miscommunication between safety Kendell Brooks and cornerback Ameer Speed (and missed tackles by both). The Terps finished with 489 yards, meaning MSU has allowed 1,500 yards and 100 points over its three-game losing streak.

Maryland wide receiver Jacob Copeland cuts in front of Michigan State cornerback Ameer Speed during the first quarter of MSU's 27-13 loss on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in College Park, Maryland.
Maryland wide receiver Jacob Copeland cuts in front of Michigan State cornerback Ameer Speed during the first quarter of MSU's 27-13 loss on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in College Park, Maryland.

Offense: While the defense struggled early, Payton Thorne directed a much sharper opening that resulted in two touchdowns and two field-goal chances in the first five drives (more to come on that). But in the second half, everything came unglued. MSU went three-and-out on three of its first four drives and picked up just one first down on the other, managing just 5 yards on the first 13 plays after the half. Thorne was flushed from the pocket frequently and became erratic with his decisions and throws. His receivers’ routes grew steadily less precise. And the line had five penalties — three false starts and two holding calls — plus another declined flag for holding. MSU ran for 100 yards but no one topped Elijah Collins’ 36, and the Spartans gained just 75 yards in the final two quarters.

Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne runs with the ball as Maryland defensive back Tarheeb Still tries to stop him during the second half of MSU's 27-13 loss on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in College Park, Maryland.
Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne runs with the ball as Maryland defensive back Tarheeb Still tries to stop him during the second half of MSU's 27-13 loss on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in College Park, Maryland.

Special teams: To complete the trifecta in missing "complementary football," MSU’s kicking situation is suddenly in disarray. Coach Mel Tucker opted to use Ben Patton for place-kicking duty, and the Auburn grad transfer missed a 33-yard field goal try wide right after making an extra point. The Spartans then turned back to freshman Jack Stone, the primary place-kicker the first four weeks. His first extra point try, after some dubious pre-snap chicanery, never happened because of a high, wide delivery from long snapper Hank Pepper. Then Stone's 45-yard field goal try at the end of the first half came out low; it was blocked by the Terrapins to squelch any momentum from MSU’s end-of-half, hurry-up drive.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State football: Freshman safety made a good first impression