Michigan State Football: Expect Defense to Remain Elite

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Michigan State football has enjoyed strong defenses in recent years. Despite a coordinator change, gradutation and injury, the Spartans should remain among the nation’s elite defenses in 2015.

Nov 29, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio stands in the tunnel with his players prior to the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

The Michigan State Spartans finished last season 10-2, a great season when you consider their 2 losses came to the National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes and the runner-up Oregon Duck football team. The Spartans earned then ended the year with an impressive 4th consecutive bowl victory in a comeback over Baylor for Coach Mark Dantonio in the 2015 Cotton Bowl.

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  • Michigan State hangs their hat on defense, that’s been the case since Mark Dantonio began his work turning the program around 7 years ago. The Spartans are a far cry from what was once a consistent team weakness, and are today one of the very elite defensive programs in college football.

    The Spartans defensive numbers were top of the line last season: #8 in Total Defense, #8 in sacks, #3 In turnovers gained, and 1st in Run Defense. The unit lost 3 huge leaders in LB Taiwan Jones, S Kurtis Drummond and CB Trae Waynes, yet the Spartans are still stacked with talent and experience in all areas.

    While Mark Dantonio has always had a major say in his defense, MSU suffered a big blow when they lost Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi as he accepted the University of Pitt Head Coaching job.

    Schematically, there won’t be much change with coaches Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel in as Co-Defensive Coordinators, but there’s been many times Narduzzi would come barging down from his coaches box to ream the defense and effect the energy of the entire team, and that now being gone will be a loss in some regards.

    Both Coordinators have coached under Coach Dantonio since his time in Cincinnati, and the three are close as you would expect. There shouldn’t should be much adjustment necessary with this group.

    Senior LB Riley Bullough had positive reviews on newly hired Coach Mark Snyder thus far, claiming in an interview via Mlive.com that he and the linebackers enjoyed their new linebackers coach and thought he’s done a great job. He should fit right in with the coaching staff and the Spartan football team.

    Barnett and Tressel will now have to work their his first year without Redshirt Senior LB Ed Davis, who went down with a knee injury in training camp that will keep him sidelined for his 5th year in 2015 . This defense will miss Davis as he was able to post 54 tackles as the starting Sam linebacker but he and the Spartans are hopeful he can gain eligibility for a 6th season.

    Even with the collective losses, the Michigan State defense will return a lot of tough, senior leadership. Coach Dantonio will expect to have this Spartan defense performing like one of the best in the country and they still have the level of talent to make it happen.

    Here’s a run-down of the Spartans talent at each level of the defense.

    Next: MSU D-Line