A lot of fuss has been made about the Michigan State Spartans losing cornerback Darqueze Dennard and safety Isaiah Lewis, both of whom played large roles in last year’s “No Fly Zone.” A total of only four returning starters on defense means there are many holes that need to be filled if Michigan State wants its defense to compete at the same level it has been the last few years, but quite a few answers are already in place and working, including safety Kurtis Drummond, who is going to have to lead Michigan State’s defense in 2014.
Drummond could very well be the Big 10‘s best safety at the end of the season because of his play-making ability and consistency. In 2013 Drummond recorded 91 tackles in 14 games at safety, which was a career-high and ranked second on the team. Along with that, he recorded four interceptions and six pass break-ups. Drummond naturally benefited from team neglecting to throw to Dennard and Lewis a lot of the time, but it still takes skill to reap those benefits.
Now he becomes Michigan State’s biggest weapon on defense this season. It would be unreasonable to expect the same sort of production because the Spartans statistically almost can’t get better, and it would be extremely difficult to maintain last season’s performance without Dennard And Isaiah, among others.
But Michigan State’s defense will be just fine in 2014, and it’s largely because of Drummond, who will once again be doing a little bit of everything to keep the Spartans rolling. An early road test against Oregon on Sept. 6 will be one heck of a game to watch, but it will also provide some insight as to how well the secondary will hold up this season. Remember, as much as Oregon loves to speed things up, spread the field and run all over the place, quarterback Marcus Mariota is an underappreciated passer and will test Michigan State’s secondary, especially if it tries cheating up.
Drummond is a good pick to lead the Big 10 in interceptions this season and maybe even tackles as well. Because of Michigan State’s aggressive play-calling on the defensive end, Drummond will often times find himself breaking into the backfield, something he did a lot of last season.
Without Drummond, a case can be made about Michigan State’s defense possibly taking a tumble this season, but as long as he’s leading a secondary that will still be competing as the best in the Big 10, don’t count on anything falling off the table.