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Michigan State's Jeremy Langford not worried by slow start

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Michigan State's Jeremy Langford ran for 1,422 yards and 18 TDs last season, but he is off to a slow start this season.

Langford (6-foot-1, 208 pounds), a senior, was the nation's No. 5 returning rusher, but he has managed just 203 yards through three games; his per-game average of 67.7 yards ranks 13th in the Big Ten. He also has just two TDs.

Langford suffered a sprained ankle in the Spartans' Aug. 29 opener against Jacksonville State, but he hasn't missed any games and isn't using that as an excuse.

"It's football -- you're going to take hits and get dinged up here and there," Langford told mlive.com. "So I'm all right. I'm ready to go."

That Langford doesn't seem worried might mean he remembers last season, when he got off to an equally slow start: Through the first three games last season, he had 200 yards and four TDs. He didn't really get untracked until Game 6, and he finished last season with eight 100-yard outings in the final nine games, including two contests with at least 150 yards.

"I know I have to get my mind where it was last year, to continue to run hard and get those 4 yards and don't get too greedy, and eventually I'll get the ball rolling," he said.

Perhaps this is the week he'll get rolling. Michigan State plays host to Wyoming, which is allowing 161.0 rushing yards per game and has been gouged for 451 the past two weeks (263 by Oregon, 188 by Florida Atlantic).

Langford doesn't get the attention that fellow Big Ten tailbacks Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon receive, but he is a solid player in his own right. Langford proved to be a workhorse last season, averaging 21 carries per game, with five games of at least 24 attempts. Last season, STATS.com figures show, 725 of his 1,338 rushing yards (54 percent) came after contact, which ranked second in the FBS ranks, trailing only Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey.

Langford is averaging 15 carries per game this season; look for that number to increase once Michigan State gets into Big Ten play. While Langford doesn't have elite speed, he has been clocked as fast as 4.47 in the 40 and has enough burst to run away from defenders. He is solid in pass protection and also showed excellent hands as a receiver last season, though he hasn't been thrown to much this season (just one reception).

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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