The Crushing Defense Continues in 2013 The Enlightened Spartan: The Crushing Defense Continues in 2013

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Crushing Defense Continues in 2013

Pat Narduzzi has done one thing consistently since bringing his defensive philosophy to Michigan State:  make the meanest defensive team in the B1G Ten.

(link here to see the preview on the Spartan offense).

What is even more amazing is the 2013 team may be the best Spartan defense since the 60s.  We’ve had incredible defensive efforts the past four years… and if you attended any game in the painful season last year, the only reason you would keep coming back was to watch the crushing Spartan defense.

The linebacking corps is fast, disciplined, and rock-hard.  Max Bullough continues a family blood-line for MSU of vicious hitting, but smart LBs. It’s tough to think that Max may be better than Shane, Chuck, or Hank. But, he is certaily of that all-star caliber.   Thank God for the future: Riley Bullough and Byron Bullough continue the tradition.

A look at the three incredible LBs for MSU:  Bullough is at the middle (in 2012: 111 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 10 TFL, 1 INT), hard-hitting Denicos Allen at SAM (79 tackles, 3 sacks, 7 TFL, 1 INT), and Taiwan Jones (38 tackles, 1 sack, 4.5 TFL) at WLB.  That’s the best LB trio in the big ten.  Add in the opportunistic Kyler Elsworth (2.5 sacks)… and you have a LB corps filled with experience and very good play. 

Along the defensive front, the past two years we’ve lost Jerel Worthy and Will Gholston to the NFL, but we have depth to make up for the concerns.  Marcus Rush (38 tackles, 2 sacks, 5.5 TFL, 5 passes broken up/PBU) and Drenzel Drone (10 tackles, 1 PBU) have starting experience and have been a force on the DE and can use a bit more speed this year to hit QBs. Tyler Hoover (13 tackles, 0.5 TFL), Michajah Reynolds (19 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 PBU), and James Kittredge (14 tackles, 4.5 TFL) have plenty of experiene filling the holes along the interior.  What is insteresting is moving Lawarence Thomas back to defense (from TE last year) to his natural abilities on the defenive front. He has the pedigree and blue-chip status to be a breakout player on defense:  a playmaker.  Early reports are his improvement over the summer will pay major dividends for the Big Green in the season.

Along the defensive backfield, Darqueze Dennard (52 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 7 PBU, 3 INT) returns after such a strong year in 2012; add to it Isiaiah Lewis (80 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 6 PBU, 2 INT) and Kurtis Drummond (53 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 4 PBU, 2 INT) to make a very solid trio on defense.  The newcomer, redshirt frosh Demetrious Fox, looks to add a lot of talent to the safety position.

There just aren’t many holes on defense.  While MSU will likely make things very very stingy to run the ball, they will need to get some pressure on opposing QBs – particularly on third downs – to stop opponents and give our offense a short field.  Hopefully Lawrence Thomas and Marcus Rush can lead the way with an improved pass rush.  Our offense needs all the help they can get.

BOTTOM LINE:  Lots of returning experience from one of the Big Ten’s best defenses last year… but the defense did not have much help from the offense to give them a rest off the field.  What do yo do?  Michigan State will have the best defense again this year in the conference.  Even with a sputtering offense last year, the defense gave up less than 100 yards per game on the ground, with an average of 30 carries for 99 yards (3.3 ypc).  That’s stout. And, if you can believe it, MSU averaged 85 more yards per game than their opponent (averaged 60 yards per game more than their opponent).  What does this mean?  The problems aren’t on defense at all.  This is one unit that can be relied upon all year long.

Spartan fans will hate to see the defense leave the field if the offense sputters at all like in 2012.  Can we put the defense on offense, too?  

If you love defense, come on out to Spartan Stadium in 2013.  We may see lots more 13-10, 17-13, or 10-9 games all year long.  Hopefully it's the Spartans on the front end of the ledger.   

Next report:  ES will look at coaching, special teams, and some of the rules changes in NCAA football.  We'll also look at the initial USA Today coaching poll....

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