Saturday, December 31, 2011

Michigan State Preview Series: The Defense

I've already given a general overview and a preview of the Spartan offense, so now today we'll give a quick look at their defense.  I've reiterated several times how equally matched these two teams are, and defensively is where you see the greatest similarity in results.  Again, the two teams are not so much similar in structure (MSU is primarily a 4-3 defense), but the results are nearly the same:

17.5 PPG Allowed 19.6
33.70% 3rd Down Pct 28.81%
41 Sacks 34
16 Interceptions 17
104 Rush Yds/Gm 103
168 Pass Yds/Gm 165
5th Total Defense 3rd
As you can see from the sack totals, this team really likes to get after the quarterback.  Denicos Allen is their version of Jarvis Jones.  He plays strongside linebacker, and despite only being a sophomore, has put up 10 sacks and a total of 17 tackles for loss.  He's a bit of an undersized guy, listed at 5-10 and 220 lbs, but he makes plays all over the field.  They also get a nice upfield rush from their two young defensive ends, Marcus Rush (4 sacks, 10 total tackles for loss) and William Gholston (3 sacks, 11 total tackles for loss).  Gholston is an impressive physical specimen as well, built along the lines of a Julius Peppers.  He's 6-7, 280 lbs, and very athletic.  Once he learns to play to his full potential, he's going to be a nightmare for opposing offenses.

Mark Dantonio is a defensive guy, and you can tell that he takes pride in their performance, as do the players.  Wisconsin put up 31 and 42 points on them in their two matchups this year, but nobody else was able to score more than 24 points against this defense, so converting when we have scoring opportunities (you know, like having the ball hit you in the hands at the goal line with nobody around) will be crucial.  Our offensive line is going to need to be able to hold their own and give Murray some time, because the Spartan defense will make us pay for any mistakes.  

I'll have my game prediction up tomorrow.  Happy New Year to everybody, and GO DAWGS!


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