Michigan State Spartans Season Preview: Defense
While the Michigan State football season was a major disappointment for Spartan Nation, going only 7-6 on the year, almost none of the blame can be put on Pat Narduzzi’s defense.
The Spartan defense was the most menacing unit in the Big Ten and one of the top defenses in the entire country in 2012. They kept the team in every single game they played during the year and were loaded with talent.
The Spartans finished third in scoring defense in the conference, only giving up 18.6 points per game on the season. They were first in the conference in total defense, only giving up 293.1 yards per game and only allowing 12 total touchdowns for the entire season.
The Spartans have a chance to be even more dominating going into the 2013 season. While longtime starters like Johnny Adams, Will Gholston and Chris Norman have all moved on from East Lansing, the players stepping in look to pick up where those guys left off.
The defensive line features a mix of experience and raw, young talent ready to step up. Shilique Calhoun fills in for Will Gholston while Marcus Rush returns for his third season as a starter and is one of the best ends in the conference. Tyler Hoover and James Kittredge will start on the inside, but players like Lawrence Thomas and Micajah Reynolds will also see a lot of action.
The linebacking corps has the potential to be the best group in all of college football. Max Bullough returns at the middle and is the leader of the team and the signal caller while other senior Denicos Allen is a playmaking machine. Junior Taiwan Jones, who beat out Chris Norman halfway through the season in 2012, is an absolute freak of an athlete and is a great player.
In the secondary, the Spartans return three starters. Safeties Kurtis Drummond and Isaiah Lewis are tackling machines who both have a ton of experience under their belts. Lewis is on virtually every preseason watch list going into 2013. At corner, Darqueze Dennard is a three year starter and is hearing a lot of buzz from NFL scouts while sophomore Trae Waynes will step in after showing great promise in the Spartans’ bowl game last season.
The “Spartan Dawgs Defense”, as they like to call themselves, shows no signs of slowing down in 2013. Head coach Mark Dantonio has done a phenomenal job of recruiting great athletes and building depth on the defense, and it has shown for three straight seasons now. Look for Michigan State to have another top 10 defense nationally and for the defense to carry the team all season long.