Tucker benches Lombardi, goes with Thorne in ‘inconsistent’ loss

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EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – In an attempt to bring some consistency to Michigan State’s offense Mel Tucker made his first significant change as the Spartans’ head coach versus No. 10 Indiana.

With the Hoosiers up 17-0 he took junior quarterback Rocky Lombardi out of the game after he threw two interceptions and the player he brought in to replace him was freshman quarterback Payton Thorne.

“We thought it was some decision making early in the game in the first half,” said Tucker. “Payton was the next man up, so we gave him that opportunity.”

On Thorne’s very first snap of the game he rushed for 38 yards and he appeared to be the spark the Spartans were looking for, but he’d only finish the game with a total of 25 yards rushing. Not to mention he too threw an interception, going 10-for-20 for 110 yards.

“We were inconsistent with both guys in there,” Tucker said of both Lombardi and Thorne. “We have some efficient plays and then we were inefficient. So, we’ll know more when we look at the tape.”

Tucker than went on to add this.

“There are no positions set in stone on this team at the quarterback position or any other.”

Lombardi has started all four games for the Spartans this year, including Saturday’s game against the Hoosiers, but his woes from the Iowa game at Kinnick Stadium carried with him into Spartan Stadium. With his two interceptions he’s now thrown a total of seven on the year. Lombardi wasn’t made available after the game, but one of the other leaders on the team in senior linebacker Antjuan Simmons spoke on his behalf.

“You’re not going to play lights out every game,” said Simmons. “You’re not going to have an All-American or All-Conference type of game every game. You’re going to have an off day and today (Saturday) Rocky had an off day. It happens. Payton came in and did what he could do. He made plays for us and that’s it. That’s all we can do.”

With Michigan State’s 24-0 loss to Indiana it was the first time MSU was shut out at home since Oct. 12, 1985, when Michigan beat the Spartans, 31-0.

Indiana also won the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time since 2016.

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