Michigan State Spartans Football: The Defense Will be Key to Success in 2013

By Barry Leonard Jr
Max Bullough Michigan State Spartans
Mary Langenfeld- USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans finished last season with a disappointing record of 7-6, due largely in part to an ineffective offense that ranked 89th in the country in total offense. Luckily for the Spartans, the defense was very strong. That same defense returns several key starters this season and will play a major role in Michigan State’s success.

Last year, despite having star running back Le’Veon Bell, the Spartans struggled on offense. They averaged just 359 yards a game and were one of the worst in the Big Ten Conference. Under the direction of quarterback Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State ranked 110th in the nation, scoring a measly 20 points a game.

This season, though Maxwell will bring experience, the offense will have to operate without the services of Bell and top tight end Dion Sims. It won’t be a surprise to see the unit once again struggle with consistency.

As bad as things were on offense last season, it was a much different story on defense. The Spartans’ defense was one of the top units in all of college football. They ranked first in the Big Ten and fourth in the nation in total defense and ninth in the nation in points allowed.

Though key starters such as defensive end William Gholston and cornerback Johnny Adams are gone for 2013, the Spartans enter the season with an experienced defense.

Linebacker Max Bullough, who made a team-high 111 tackles in 2012, returns to lead the defense this year. He will look to put up the same kind of production and establish himself as one of the best linebackers in the nation. Safety Isaiah Lewis also returns this year. He was a part of the secondary in 2012 that ranked second in the nation in pass defense efficiency.

Those two, paired with returning starters like Denicos Allen and Darqueze Dennard, should ensure that the Spartans once again have one of the top defenses in the nation.

While the offense will likely struggle, especially to start the season, it will be up to the defense to step up and keep Michigan State in games. If the Spartans plan on putting together a successful season in 2013, the defense will be the key in making that happen.


Barry Leonard Jr. is a Big 10 Football Writer  for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @barryleonardjr, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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