Michigan State Spartans 2009 NCAA Football Preview

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Michigan State Spartans

Big Ten Conference


2008 Record: (9-4, 6-2)

2008 Bowl: Capital One Bowl vs. Georgia (L 12-24)

Coach: Mark Dantonio (16-10 at Michigan State, 34-27 overall)

Offensive Coordinator: Don Treadwell

Defensive Coordinator: Pat Narduzzi


Returning Leaders

Rushing: Andre Anderson, RB, 97 yards

Passing: Kirk Cousins, QB, 310 yards

Receiving: Mark Dell, WR, 679 yards

Tackles: Greg Jones, LB, 127

Sacks: Trevor Anderson, DE, 8.0

Interceptions: Johnny Adams, CB, 2; Dan Fortener, S, 2; Chris L. Rucker, CB, 2


Other Key Returnees: OT Rocco Cironi, WR B.J. Cunningham, LB Adam Decker, G Joel Foreman, TE Charlie Gantt, LB Eric Gordon, C Joel Nitchman, K Brett Swenson, CB Ross Weaver, WR Blair White, DT Oren Wilson

Key Losses: QB Brian Hoyer, DT Justin Kershaw, DE Brandon Long, G Roland Martin, OT Jesse Miller, RB Javon Ringer, S Otis Wiley


In Coach Mark Dantonio’s first year at Michigan State, the Spartans went 7-6. Coach Dantonio followed it up last year with a 9-4 record and a trip to the Capital One Bowl. That has the green and white faithful excited about the future. The future might have to wait since the Spartans have to replace their superstar running back and their steady quarterback.



The Spartans did not have the greatest defense in the Big Ten, but with eight starters returning, the unit is expected to be one of the best in the conference. The strength is in the middle with linebackers Greg Jones, Adam Decker and Eric Gordon. Jones led the team with 127 tackles and that was just as a sophomore. Now that he is an upperclassman, he is ready to emerge as the leader of a talented defense. The absence of tackle Justin Kershaw and end Brandon Long is a cause for concern. The Spartans only tallied two sacks per game a year ago and Long was an important part of that. However, Trevor Anderson is back for his senior campaign and he led the squad with eight sacks. If the Spartans can find another pass rusher to compliment Anderson, the defense will be in great shape.



The MSU offense last season was pretty much handing the ball to running back Javon Ringer and letting him do his thing. On the year Ringer tallied an incredible 390 carries. Now he is gone and the Spartans will have to diversify their offense. Senior A.J. Jimmerson is the likely candidate to replace Ringer, but Andre Anderson had a quality freshman campaign in 2008 and could be the go-to-guy in 2009. Add talented freshmen Edwin Baker and Larry Caper to the mix and the Spartans have plenty of replacements for Ringer. Making matters worse for the offense is the fact that Brian Hoyer has also run out of eligibility. Hoyer did not have a great senior season and the numbers were nothing special, but he was a leader. Now there is a quarterback controversy in East Lansing as Kirk Cousins battles it out with Keith Nichol. Cousins has more experience in the system, but Nichol was a super recruit who committed to MSU originally before opting to head to Oklahoma instead. Now he is back with the Spartans and has to pick up the offense quickly if he wants to unseat Cousins.


The Bottom Line:

No matter who the quarterback ends up being, there are plenty of young playmakers to pass the ball to. The receivers were young and inconsistent last year, but that excuse will not work anymore and players like Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham have to learn from Blair White and be more consistent. With the likelihood that the team will be forced to spend less time on the ground, especially without linemen Roland Martin and Jesse Miller, the quarterbacks and the receivers have to play better if the Spartans want to be in the mix for a Big Ten title.


2008 Team Stats:

Rushing Offense: 130.15 (77th in nation, 9th in conference)

Passing Offense: 213.31 (62, 6)

Total Offense: 343.46 (74, 8)

Scoring Offense: 25.08 (62, 6)

Rushing Defense: 142.46 (67, 7)

Pass Defense: 213.38 (69, 7)

Total Defense: 355.85 (58, 7)

Scoring Defense: 22.08 (41, 5)

Turnover Margin: .15 (49, 5)

Sacks: 2.00 (54, 8)

Sacks Allowed: 1.85 (60, 4)