Michigan State Football: 3 reasons Spartans can exceed expectations in 2020

Michigan State football sings alma mater (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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Michigan State football
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2. Michigan State has an elite defensive coaching staff

Can we just take a second to appreciate the staff that Mel Tucker pieced together in a short time following his hiring back in February? He did an incredible job and knocked just about every hire out of the park but the most impressive ones came on the defensive side of the ball.

In fact, the defensive staff might be one of the best in the Big Ten, led by coordinator Scottie Hazelton who helped turn Kansas State’s defense around into one of the Big 12’s best in 2019. It only took him one year to fourth-best in the Big 12 and 44th nationally in total yards as well as No. 2 in the conference in scoring which was also good for No. 27 in the country.

Hazelton will have an impressive complementary system with guys like Harlon Barnett, Mike Tressel and Ron Burton. All three of those guys are familiar names who have spent time with the program and that familiarity is only going to help return this defense to prominence.

Barnett was getting attention as a head coaching option for the Spartans and to get him as a defensive backs coach was a gigantic victory for Tucker. Tressel is the former defensive coordinator for the Spartans and he even split that duty with Barnett a few years ago. Those two have solid chemistry and great defensive minds.

Then you have Burton who has coached the defensive line in East Lansing for years and he returns to do that in 2020.

This staff is going to have the defense back at the top soon enough, starting in 2020.