IOWA CITY — Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy twice went down with injuries Saturday in his team’s 37-21 win against Iowa.
Worthy, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior, injured his left wrist, which was wrapped in ice following the game. He also hit the ground with cramps in the second half. Worthy joined several other Michigan State defenders who required on-field treatment during the second half.
Worthy said he was hurt both times he came off the field and described the game as “very physical.” But he suggested injuries might not have been the only reason he or his fellow defenders hit the Kinnick Stadium FieldTurf on Saturday.
“When an offense is moving like that the smart move is to just go down and just take your time and don’t kind of rush through it, but that’s what we went out, that’s what we went out there and did,” Worthy said. “But at the same time, regardless of the injuries, we played our best ball this week and regardless of the injuries, we still went out there and dominated.”
Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio said his players’ injuries were legitimate.
“I can address that I thought they were severe,” Dantonio said. “I saw pain when I walked out there. It wasn’t that they were going down. It’s a physical football game.
“There’s a lot of guys just sitting in there (the locker room) without their pads off, in there right now just sort of taking it in, very tired. It just sort of happens, I guess. But I don’t think anybody was out there, there’s no reason to be out there taking a knee. They really weren’t going two-minute until the end of the game.”
Iowa cornerback Micah Hyde wasn’t on the field for the rash of Michigan State injuries. Most of them occurred in the fourth quarter when Iowa’s offense was trying to move down the field while trailing by double digits. But other people were talking about Michigan State’s possible injury flops, he said.
“That’s the word of mouth,” Hyde said. “I don’t really know. I was sitting on the bench. I didn’t really see what happened. I’m pretty sure there were a couple of times they were falling down to stop the clock, but I didn’t see it. I just saw a lot of people getting hurt and the trainers running out there.”
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz was asked if Michigan State’s constant defensive injuries disrupted his offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know,” Ferentz said. “I mean, it was a high number. Seemed like a high number, but I wasn’t counting. Don’t know if disrupts us or not. No way to measure that one.”
At least one Michigan State defender, sophomore cornerback Darqueze Dennard, did not return after suffering an on-field injury. Dennard, who injured his ankle, saw freshman replacement Tony Lippert scoop up an Iowa fumble at the 8-yard line to end the Hawkeyes’ chances at a comeback.
Worthy returned both times.
“It was a hard-hitting game and people are just weathering some injuries that you’ve got to play through,” Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson said.