3. Michigan State’s defense finishes in the top 60 nationally
When Mel Tucker hired Scottie Hazelton as his defensive coordinator, I was excited. He had success at his previous stops and there were plenty of reasons for optimism. He seemed to know what he was doing and how to have immediate success at new programs.
But he struggled in 2020 (who didn’t?) as well as in 2021. Everyone expected the defense to take a step forward in 2022, but it just didn’t. It struggled against the pass again and was one of the worst defenses in the country for the second straight season before improving over the final third of the season due to the unit getting healthier.
The defense actually looked solid in the final four games of the 2022 season, giving fans hope.
Still, Michigan State finished with the 75th-ranked scoring defense, 100th-ranked total defense, and had the 97th-ranked turnover margin in college football. The pressure is on for Hazelton to turn things around in a hurry in 2023. And I think he will.
The pieces are there with an elite linebacking corps, a talented defensive line, and a young but relatively unproven secondary.
Michigan State’s defense will improve and become a top-60 unit in the nation. That doesn’t seem super bold, but considering how bad the defense has been, it’s almost crazy to predict.