College Football Preview: The 2014 Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State is a team to keep an eye on in the Big Ten in 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State Spartans have another Big Ten Championship on their minds.
Overview: Michigan State has a few holes on an outstanding 2013 defense to fill so the offense has to avoid a slow start and produce consistently right out of the gates. If the defense comes close to last season's performance the sky is the limit for the Spartans.
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Offense: Quarterback Connor Cook struggled early in 2013 but rebounded for a stellar campaign. Cook threw for 2,755 yards for 22 scores and six picks on 58.7% while chipping in with 213 rushing yards. Bennie Fowler is the only receiver gone with a team leading 622 yards but Macgarrett Kings Jr. and Tony Lippett are the next in line with a combined 86 catches for 1,122 yards. Everybody else is back in a very deep receiving corps and that's much the same scenario with the rushing attack. Jeremy Langford (192-1422) was the workhorse that was given the occasional breather by Nick Hill and Delton Williams and their combined 582 yards on 105 totes. Three starters along the O-Line depart including All Big Ten LG Blake Treadwell but three return with 54 games of starting experience.
Defense: The defensive line loses four of their top seven but all is not doom and gloom with ends Shalique Calhoun and Marcus Rush recording 21.5 TFL and 12.5 sacks. However, the line needs some tackles to plug up the middle. Two of the top five linebackers are back but the loss of Denicos Allen (16.5 TFL-5.5 S) is going to be tough to replace. A significant loss in the secondary is corner Darqueze Dennard whose 3.5 TFL, four interceptions and ten passes defensed is production that is not going to be replaced by a single player. Having said that, a secondary that includes S Kurtis Drummond and CB Trae Waynes who totaled seven picks will be pretty good with a few more decent bodies around them.
Special Teams: The special teams returns every major contributor with automatic placekicker Michael Geiger going 15-16 on FG including 8-8 from 40+ yards. Kings Jr. is one to watch in the PR game after averaging over ten yards on 20 returns.
Outlook: If the O-Line comes around the offense will be fine and while the defense won't be as good as in 2013 many teams wish they had this unit. I won't say Michigan State wins another Big Ten title but they will be in the running.