Friday, October 25, 2002

MSU quarterback suspended indefinitely

By David Eggert
The Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker, the third-leading passer in school history, was suspended indefinitely Thursday for violating team rules.

Smoker will sit out Saturday's game against Wisconsin at Spartan Stadium.

"The decision was made after consulting with Jeff and others," head coach Bobby Williams said in a statement. "It is for the welfare of both Jeff and this football program that this action is taken immediately."

Reached at his on-campus home Thursday, Smoker declined comment. School officials declined to release the specific reasons for the suspension.

Sophomore Damon Dowdell will make his second career start, his first this year.

"I've got to be a leader for this team Saturday night," Dowdell said in a statement. "My goal is to play hard and to make smart decisions with the football.

"I'm glad I got my first start out of the way last year because I had a lot of nervousness heading into that game at Purdue."

Smoker's suspension is another blow to a struggling team that was expected to contend for the Big Ten championship.

The Spartans (3-4, 1-2 Big Ten) have dropped four of the last five games, including lopsided defeats the past two weeks against Iowa and Minnesota.

Against Minnesota, Smoker moved into third place on Michigan State's career passing list with 5,537 yards. He also is second in total offensive yardage.

Smoker, a junior, has thrown for 13 TDs and 1,593 yards this season.

Smoker's father, Jay, said Thursday night from his Manheim, Pa. home, that he had spoken with his son. But he declined to say why his son was suspended.

"We don't know," Jay Smoker said. "We haven't talked to the coaching staff. We're here and they're there, and they know better. It's a team rule, like the coach said."

Jay Smoker said he planned to speak with Williams in person Friday. He said he and his wife travel to all the Spartan home games.

Dowdell has played sparingly this year. He played in five games last season, completing 27-of-56 passes for 362 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 26 yards and three TDs.

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