EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — After a tough loss to Ohio State to open the Big Ten season, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio braced himself a bit for the usual alarmist reaction from fans and media.
"You're never quite as good as you think you are or people think you are, and you're never quite as bad as people think you are either," Dantonio said Tuesday. "We're not in panic mode."
The Spartans lost a conference game in each of the last two seasons, but they were still able to share the Big Ten title in 2010 and reach the league championship game last year. The difference this time is that Saturday's 17-16 loss to the Buckeyes came so early in the season, and there may not be any room for error the rest of the way.
Michigan State (3-2) plays at Indiana this weekend before a four-week stretch that includes games against Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
"I just think that we need to move on and get on with our business," Dantonio said. "We played well in the past, we'll continue to play well, we need to continue to grow."
Quarterback Andrew Maxwell, who is in his first season as the starter, showed some signs of progress against Ohio State, but the Spartans are still struggling to replace some of the playmakers they lost from last year's team, such as receivers Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham.
The leading receiver this season is tight end Dion Sims, who has 24 catches. Keith Mumphery scored the team's only touchdown last weekend on a terrific catch-and-run, but there's room for improvement.
On the depth chart Tuesday, Aaron Burbridge topped one of the wide receiver spots. He has two catches so far this season, but Dantonio says it's time to give the freshman more of a look.
"He'll start as the third wide receiver for us this week. I think he needs an opportunity," Dantonio said. "He catches the ball well — still learning some things, has big-play potential. We're going to give him that opportunity. Doesn't mean it will stick, but that's going to happen at the beginning of the game, not at the end."