On Monday, we previewed the Offensive Side of The Ball. Today the Defense gets their send-up. I’ll try not to repeat too much from earlier this week and incorporate a little more Dantonio into the quotes, divinations and projections. Spring Depth Chart and Roster can be found at the respective links.
It All Begins on The Defensive Line
The biggest news here is that Tyler Hoover currently is in the first position to play the 3-tech as the WORTHY replacement. Hoover is 6’7” and if I remember correctly has had some back issues in the past. Can he remain injury-free and will he be able to get underneath guys who are 4-5 inches shorter than him? Particularly if memory serves and he has a susceptible back? Behind Hoover are a platoon of 6’3 270-280 pound guys who have all shown flashes of talent. Something tells me the 3-Tech will resemble 2009 in 2012 where there are like 4 B-minus guys platooning all game long. The depth pays off in the fourth quarter, but until then, the position is largely a non-factor.
The Nose Tackle positioned will continue to be manned by Rashad White. White finished 2011 by destroying Georgia’s hopes and dreams of winning the Bloomin’ Onion Bowl and looks to carry that momentum into Spring Ball. He’ll be backed up by the previously homeless Micajah Reynolds who has found a home, for now. Until something else breaks and they need to apply a little Micajah glue somewhere else.
The Defensive End starters will continue to be Willl Gholston and Marcus Rush. Gholston barring injury will leave for The League after this year, Rush will likely play all four years at MSU. An interesting development in terms of Defensive End depth is that Rush’s backup Shilique Calhoun was compared to Julian Peterson by Dantonio in the Tuesday press conference and Gholston’s understudy, Joel Heath was compared to… Gholston. Hyperbolic praise for our two redshirt freshmen here, but encouraging all the same. Unlike DT where MSU is four deep with talented dudes, the third string back up to Gholston is 6’2” and 231 Jeremy Gainer. Hope MSU stays healthy here.
This spring kicks off without Trenton Robinson at the Free Safety spot. Robinson was outstanding in pass coverage and so-so in run support, which is basically expected of a free safety. The battle to replace his position is being held by RJ Williamson and Kurtis Drummond. Drummond played extensively last year in MSU’s nickel package and notched two picks while doing it. After Isaiah Lewis manned that position in 2010 it’s starting to look like the nickel back serves as the training wheels for playing the safety position. Drummond would appear to have the inside track on the Free Safety job, but I remember reading a quote a while back from Williamson’s coach who said he was sure Williamson will play in the NFL someday. In short, should Williamson beat out Drummond it means he’s very good and not that Drummond isn’t. Of course none of this may matter once Demetrious Cox comes to town in the fall.
Johnny Adams, Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Lewis all return as starters to their positions. The quality of their backups has improved substantially since most of them were redshirted last year. None of the backups are so good that they should push the starters for consistent playing time.
Linebackers, We Has Them.
So remember when everyone was supposed to crap their pants at how good Jarvis Jones was prior to the Outback Bowl? Coming in with 11 sacks, only 2.5 less was Denicos Allen. Guess what? He’s back and he’s still super-pissed like in Waterboy.
Max Bullough will be back as the Quarterback of the Defense this year. Headed into his true junior season, he’s already projected as a second rounder should he declare for the 2013 draft. Taiwan Jones is filling in for the injured Chris Norman. Norman might be in danger of being Wally Pipped were it not his fourth year as a starter at the Star position. Jones is young, huge and fast and looked flatly vicious on Special Teams in his 2011 campaign.
This is the first time in recent memory where the same three starters from the previous year were projected to start again on offense in the fall. Also, in case you watched 2011 with eyes shut, MSU didn’t miss Jones or Gordon all that much. After 2012, Norman departs, Bullough and Allen are serious threats to declare for the draft.
I See What You Did There
It was really difficult to write about Spring Ball for the Defense. Unlike the Offense where QB, WR and TE are all completely unknown quantities, this defense returns 9 of 11 starters and even in the two deeps the athletic depth seems to have improved. Not really a lot of drama here. Having a second Defensive Lineman emerge will be key for the D-Line maintain their juggernaut status. Drummond seemed to have a bit more of a nose for the ball as evidenced by having half of T-Rob’s Pick Total in probably 1/5 of the snaps. There’s just not that much to talk about, an excellent defense returns 9 of 11 starters.
When was the last time you felt this comfy going into a season on D? Watch the Maxwell-led offense tee off on most of the starting D for 35 points and give us all something to worry about this summer.