#27 Michigan State Football 2013 Preview

Michigan State Spartans

Overall Rank: #27
#5 Big Ten

Michigan State Team Page#27 Michigan State Football 2013 PreviewBuy Michigan State Football Tickets

There are reasons to be high on this Michigan State squad. There are reasons to be pessimistic as well. All five of the Spartans conference losses were by four points or less. With a few lucky bounces, Coach Mark Dantonio’s team could have won ten games in 2012. But the offense never looked like a group that could come close to winning ten games and now they must rebuild at running back and tight end.

2012 Record: 7-6, 3-5
2012 Bowl: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. TCU (W 17-16)
Coach: Mark Dantonio (51-28 at Michigan State, 69-45 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Warner, Jim Bollman
Defensive Coordinator: Pat Narduzzi

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Nick Hill, RB, 48 yards
Passing: Andrew Maxwell, QB, 2,606 yards
Receiving: Bennie Fowler, WR, 524 yards
Tackles: Max Bullough, LB, 111
Sacks: Denicos Allen, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: Darqueze Dennard, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: QB Connor Cook, WR Keith Mumphery, WR Tony Lippett, WR Aaron Burbridge, OL Jack Allen, OL Dan France, S Isaiah Lewis, S Kurtis Drummond, DE Marcus Rush, LB Taiwan Jones, P Mike Sadler

Key Losses: RB Le’Veon Bell, RB Larry Caper, TE Dion Sims, OL Skyler Burkland, DE William Gholston, LB Chris Norman, CB Johnny Adams, K Dan Conroy

The Michigan State defense ranked in the top ten in the nation in rushing defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. The amount of talent Michigan State has on that side of the ball is quite impressive and the unit could be even better in 2013. The secondary is absolutely loaded even with the graduation of Johnny Adams. Darqueze Dennard is an All-Big Ten corner and there is talent to bring in to the other side. The likely candidates are sophomore Trae Waynes and redshirt freshman Ezra Robinson. At safety Kurtis Drummond and Isaiah Lewis combined to total 133 tackles, four interceptions and ten pass breakups. Max Bullough leads a deep, talented and experienced linebacker corps. The heart and soul of the defense, Bullough led MSU with 111 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles-for-loss. Bullough will be flanked by Denicos Allen, who is no stranger to disrupting the backfield, and emerging junior Taiwan Jones. The Spartans did not do nearly as good of a job of getting to the quarterback as they did in 2011. With William Gholston leaving early for the NFL, that could be a problem again. End Marcus Rush and tackle Tyler Hoover have plenty of experience, but the hope is promising sophomores Shilique Calhoun and Lawrence Thomas can turn their potential into production.

The offense was painful to watch at times. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell did improve a little as the season progressed and he did throw more touchdown passes than interceptions. The problem was his 52.5 percent completion rate. Sophomore Connor Cook has shown some potential and did lead the game winning drive during the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. It says a lot that when the Spartans had to get in field goal range, it was Cook, not Maxwell, who was called upon. Tyler O’Connor, a redshirt freshman, could be in the mix as well. It is not fair to put all the blame on Maxwell as the wide receivers did not do much to help him out. Bennie Fowler, Keith Mumphery, Tony Lippett and Aaron Burbridge are more experienced now, yet they may not help them hold onto the ball. Tight end Dion Sims opted to try his luck in the NFL after catching 36 passes for 475 yards and two scores. He was a great safety option for Maxwell and there is virtually no experience on the roster when it comes to tight ends. The running game was strong behind Le’Veon Bell. He rushed for 1,793 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Bell was the ultimate workhorse as backup rushers Larry Caper and Nick Hill carried the ball a mere 18 and 21 times, respectively. Hill is returning although he is not a workhorse back. Freshmen Gerald Holmes, R.J. Shelton and Riley Bullough, a former linebacker, are likely to split carries.

The Bottom Line:
Michigan State wants to run the ball and the offensive line has talent, although losing tackle Skyler Burkland to a career ending injury hurts a little bit. If there is a running back to be found, the line will make sure they have a decent enough 2013 campaign. The offensive production will come down to Maxwell and the rest of the quarterbacks. The defense can keep games close, as they did in 2012, but the offense has to step up and win the game. That rarely happened last season and the story could be the same this time around.  

Projected Bowl: Gator Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 149.38 (75th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 209.92 (85, 4)
Total Offense: 359.31 (95, 9)
Scoring Offense: 20.00 (108, 10)
Rushing Defense: 98.62 (8, 1)
Pass Defense: 175.77 (9, 3)
Total Defense: 274.38 (4, 1)
Scoring Defense: 16.31 (9, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.15 (50, 6)
Sacks: 1.54 (93, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 1.69 (49, 5)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#72 Darqueze Dennard

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#166 Jon Reschke
#171 Shane Jones
#173 Damion Terry


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