September 29, 2012; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans linebacker Max Bullough (40) and linebacker Taiwan Jones (34) and linebacker Denicos Allen (28) waits on sideline for officials to confirm fumble recovery during the second half of a game at Spartan Stadium against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State won 17-16 Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Just How Good Can the Michigan State Defense Be?

November 17, 2012; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans safety Isaiah Lewis (9) walks off the field after a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

November 17, 2012; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans safety Isaiah Lewis (9) walks off the field after a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans have been a frequent resident to the top 10 rankings when it comes to the defense. Ever since current defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi took over, the Spartans defense has gotten better year in and year out especially since the 2010 season. In 2009, the entire Michigan State team found themselves in a state of disappointment going 6-7 on the season after coming off a 9 win season in 2008. 2009 was supposed to be a good year in East Lansing, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The Spartans found themselves in a shootout in the Alamo bowl against Texas Tech and eventually lost that game 41-31. The defensive squad in 2009 gave up way to many points, averaging nearly 30 point per game in losses, and almost that in wins, but the 2010 season changed all that.

Max Bullough and Isaiah Lewis have both been 3 year starters for the Spartans on defense. Lewis brings toughness, speed, and hard hitting while Bullough brings instincts, toughness, and leadership. These two players are arguably the most important players on this Spartans defense because of those attributes. Back in 2010 both Lewis and Bullough became full time starters at safety and middle linebacker respectively and the defensive took on a new type of swagger; toughness and relentless. Narduzzi finally had the players he needed to instill the defense he envisioned having at Michigan State. Of course it was not just Bullough and Lewis, but those two started the change. William Gholston came in and was as good as expected, Marcus Rush came in and has been a starter since his freshman season and was a freshman All-American, Darqueze Dennard came in unheralded out of Georgia but has since became one of the best cornerbacks in the NCAA, Denicos Allen has came in and become a great edge rusher. All these guys have came in and have fit the system perfectly and have taken the defense to new heights.

Narduzzi got it going in 2010 with a mix of the players he recruited and previous coaches recruited, but it worked. Trenton Robinson for instance was a guy who came in under the tutelage of maligned head coach John L Smith, but really blossomed under Pat Narduzzi and fit his system. The defense was much improves and helped the Spartans win a share of the Big Ten Title. The 2011 season saw the Michigan State defense finish in the top 10 in NCAA in total defense and the same thing happened in 2012. How can the Spartans improve on back to back great defensive seasons? The players on the Spartans defense came into the season knowing they needed to improve in one particular area- causing turnovers. The first game in 2013, the Spartans got a head start on causing turnovers by recording 2 interceptions and a fumble against Western Michigan. The Spartans are loaded at linebacker and in the secondary led by the same two players that took over in 2010- Isaiah Lewis and Max Bullough. So just how good can this years version of the Michigan State defense be? The defense is looking to do something that only 2 other teams have done, finish in the top 10 of total defense for 3 straight seasons. They have the talent and the depth to do it, they just have to put it all together. At the end of the year, this could go down as one of the best defenses in Michigan

Tags: Michigan State Football

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