The State of Michigan State Football 2011

Defense will not be an issue for the Spartans

With the new #17 ranking in from the USA Today Coaches Poll (http://espn.go.com/college-football/rankings) a lot of Spartan fans are surprised.  Either by the fact that MSU is finally getting some preseason love or that the Spartans are still not getting the national attention it deserves after a 11-2 season.

I tend to lean towards the latter.  It seems to me that we seem to make judgements based on last impressions.  That being said Michigan State looked awful against Alabama in the Capitol One Bowl (http://espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=310010127).  There is a lot to point at as to why MSU came out so flat.  One things for sure is that MSU Football could not get up for the Capitol One Bowl game.  Playing against a Nick Saban Alabama team should always be a motivating factor, but simply put MSU got screwed out of a BCS game which indeed did have a negative effect.  With the Ohio State fallout we can now “technically” point to Michigan State as the sole winner of the Big Ten last year (http://espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=302750127). What that Capitol One Bowl game showed MSU was that if you are mentally checked out against a more talented team you get rolled as in “roll tide.”

However, achieving success with humbling experiences along the way builds character and appreciation.  I believe this year’s Michigan State team has the talent, experience, and ability to not only win the Big Ten but contend for a National Title.  Making this statement can bring rolling eyes from fans across the country.  BUT we have never seen a Michigan State Football team built like this.  They are battle tested, have a 3 year starting senior QB, key returning starters and a steady strong willed coach in Mark Dantonio.  These key components are what get lost when outsiders look in to this team.

The offensive line and linebackers have been question marks since Spring practice.  Michigan State can overcome an inexperienced group of o-linemen with great running backs and a veteran QB. The key here will be how well the offensive line meshes in camp.  Kirk Cousins will have to read the defenses even better this fall.  He will have plenty of explosive weapons at the wide receiver and tight end positions.

Linebackers to me is not a question mark, there is considerable talent with Chris Norman, Max Bullough, and 5 Star freshman recruit Lawrence Thomas.  The defensive position that has killed MSU teams in the past has always been the DBs and  this year’s team is loaded with player makers.  With Junior, Johnny Adams dubbed as this teams “Revis” along with Senior saftey, Trenton Robinson and a core of young talent (Darqueze Dennard, Tony Lippett, Isaiah Lewis, Mylan Hicks) the MSU defensive backfield should be a reliable play making group who will only get better as the season progresses.

The schedule is the main concern for this year’s team.  The way October has been laid out, no team in the country will have to face what MSU will confronts in October. With games slated at Ohio St., back to back home games versus Michigan and Wisconsin, and on the road at Nebraska.  The schedule is very reminiscent of what last year’s Alabama team had to endure.  However, if MSU does prevail in October they will be very much in the national title picture.

A more “realistic” spin on this year’s team would be going 10-2 and facing off in the B1G Ten Championship.  As long as MSU does not take a loss against Nebraska I believe they will win the Legends division without much resistance.

Now is the time for Michigan State to finally walk out of the shadows of Michigan, Ohio State, Penn St. Iowa, and Wisconsin. To show the country, the fan base and themselves that Michigan State Football’s 2011 last impression will be, one that you will not forget.

It will be earned this year, not given.

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