#4 Michigan State Football 2014 Preview

Michigan State Spartans

Overall Rank: #4
#1 Big Ten

Michigan State Team Page#4 Michigan State Football 2014 PreviewBuy Michigan State Football Tickets

It was a magical season for Michigan State. They went 8-0 in Big Ten play with very few close calls. The Spartans then beat Ohio State in the Big Ten title game and upset Stanford in a very well played Rose Bowl. If it was not for a potential bad call in their 13-17 loss at Notre Dame, the Spartans could have been playing for a national championship. Or if the BCS died a year earlier, they should have at least been in the four-team playoffs. But Michigan State fans are happy to take a Rose Bowl win and look forward to more good years down the road. And that is the question with this group; can they build off of last season or is that the pinnacle of what the program can do.

2013 Record: 13-1, 8-0
2013 Bowl: Rose Bowl vs. Stanford (W 24-20)
Coach: Mark Dantonio (64-29 at Michigan State, 82-46 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Warner, Jim Bollman
Defensive Coordinator: Pat Narduzzi

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jeremy Langford, RB, 1,422 yards
Passing: Connor Cook, QB, 2,755 yards
Receiving: Tony Lippett, WR, 613 yards
Tackles: Kurtis Drummond, S, 91
Sacks: Shilique Calhoun, DE, 7.5
Interceptions: Kurtis Drummond, S, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Nick Hill, WR Macgarrett Kings, OL Jack Allen, LB Taiwan Jones, CB Trae Waynes, P Mike Sadler, K Michael Geiger

Key Losses: WR Bennie Fowler, OL Blake Treadwell, OL Dan France, LB Denicos Allen, LB Max Bullough, CB Darqueze Dennard, S Isiah Lewis

The defense won games for Michigan State last year and the front four returns plenty of talent. End Shilique Calhoun burst onto the national scene as a sophomore and tallied 7.5 sacks, 14.0 tackles-for-loss, 18 quarterback hurries, recovered four fumbles and picked off one pass. He ended up in the end zone three times off those fumbles and interception. Marcus Rush was overshadowed by Calhoun, and rightfully so, but he is a dangerous pass rusher on the other end. Nobody was too surprised by the defense in 2013, but the offense made huge strides throughout the season. Jeremy Langford had serious competition for the starting running back when the season started, but he grabbed the job and never let go, rushing for 1,422 yards and 18 touchdowns. Nick Hill, Delton Williams and R.J. Shelton are still around to provide some competition. Even more shocking than Langford’s emergence was that of quarterback Connor Cook. Cook ended up throwing for 2,755 yards and 22 touchdowns, while completing 58.7 percent of his passes and throwing just six interceptions. The numbers do not lie and those are impressive numbers.

Despite the play of Cook, the Spartan wide receivers have room to improve. Tony Lippett and Macgarrett Kings are coming off of solid years and were the top two receivers last year in terms of receptions. Both have been inconsistent at times throughout their careers though and somebody needs to replace Bennie Fowler, the big play receiver who caught six touchdown passes. Aaron Burbridge, Keith Mumphery and DeAnthony Arnett are talented options who have yet to reach their potential. The good news is many of the skill players are returning, but the unit as a whole could take a step back if the line cannot fill the large holes left by Fou Fonoti, Blake Treadwell and Dan France. Left tackle Jack Conklin is a nice piece to build around following his superb freshman season and Jack Allen has turned into a great center, but it will be difficult to replace the losses, especially if an injury or two hits. The defense must replace many of the superstars who led this team to a Rose Bowl victory, most notably linebackers Denicos Allen and Max Bullough, cornerback Darqueze Dennard and safety Isaiah Lewis. Taiwan Jones will be thrust into a leadership role in the middle of the defense, but there will be inexperience on both sides of him. The secondary will be led by Trae Waynes and Kurtis Drummond and both of them are ready for big years. Some youngsters like freshman Jalyn Powell and sophomore Darian Hicks are talents that have been impressive during the offseason and could help turn the secondary into a tough, ball hawking unit again in 2014.

The Bottom Line:
The defense has to take a step back. There is nowhere to go but down. Just how far will they drop without Bullough and company leading the way? That remains to be seen. The offense is tougher to call. More experience should help the unit as a whole, but everything seemed to go right last year and much will depend on how well the offensive line gels. Michigan State will head to Oregon on September 6th in one of the best early non-conference games of the season. But after that, the schedule is relatively friendly with Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan all coming to East Lansing. The season finale at Penn State could have huge implications for everybody in the Big Ten East except Penn State.

Projected Bowl: Rose Bowl (playoffs)

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 173.8 (58th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 211.7 (82, 7)
Total Offense: 385.5 (80, 8)
Scoring Offense: 29.4 (64, 7)
Rushing Defense: 86.6 (2, 1)
Pass Defense: 165.6 (3, 1)
Total Defense: 252.2 (2, 1)
Scoring Defense: 13.2 (3, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.9 (10, 1)
Sacks: 2.29 (46, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.21 (15, 2)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#6 Shalique Calhoun
#68 Trae Waynes
#89 Kurtis Drummond

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#32 Malik McDowell
#177 Vayante Copeland
#193 Montae Nicholson


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