Congrats on your Sugar Bowl win. 11-2 with a BCS win is a great season anyway your slice it. Not sure if anyone else feels like me, but this time of year is such a bummer. I am already chomping at the bit for next season. I have instantly started combing over the depth charts for all the B1G Ten teams and it seems highly probable that the B1G Ten Championship game will be played on Oct. 20, 2012 in Ann Arbor.
With OSU ineligible, PSU in shambles and Wiscy losing a truckload of player and coaching talent, I feel that whoever comes out of the Legends division will be the favorite to go to win the BTCG.
In looking at the Legends, I think it is a two horse race. Nebraska fans may disagree, but they lose their top 3 defensive players (Crick, Dennard & David) off a defense that did not have a very good season.
I noticed a thread playing the schedule game. It's a fun game to play and I noticed almost everyone has MSU game chalked up as a "W". That's fine, but the original poster's rationale was something along the lines of "MSU loses almost their entire defense". I would expect UM fans to pick their own team, but lets at least get the correct information out there. Here is your way too early sneak peak at the 2012 defense of your top "Legends Division" rival.
Assuming Worthy leaves, MSU will still be returning 9 of 11 starters from its Outback Bowl defense. I give you their 2012 status and returning starter in bold.
DE: Gholston (Junior) - potential to be preseason all big ten.
DT: Anthony Rashid-White (Senior) - played the best game of his career in Outback bowl with multiple TFL's and blocked FG to secure win.
DT: Hoover/Reynolds/Treadwell/Kittredge - This is our only question mark on the DLine. I'm not sure who will emerge.
DE: Rush (RS Soph) - Was on the All Big Ten Freshman team. Should continue his progression.
The front four was a strength of the team this year and I expect it will be next year even without Worthy. DTackle is a question mark though. I think the DTackle spot will be solid, but not as explosive with the loss of Worthy. DE should be improved with both starting returning.
OLB: Denicos Allen (RS Junior)
MLB: Max Bullough (Junior)
OLB: Chris Norman (Senior)
We return our entire LB core and I think it is the best in the B1G Ten. Max is solid as nails in the middle. Allen is a great blitzer who had double digit sacks this year. Norman is a great athlete and the unheralded key to our defense. Under Narduzzi's scheme, we don't substitute to the nickel package against spread teams. Norman is the guy that gets the difficult task of being a LB covering a WR in space.
CB: Johnny Adams (RS Senior)/Lippett (RS Soph)
CB: Darqueze Dennard (Junior)
SS: Isaiah Lewis (Junior)
There is chatter of Adams testing the NFL waters. He doesn't project as an early round pick, but crazier things have happened (DWarren comes to mind). That said, I project him as returning and him and Dennard form a pretty good CB combo that really allows Narduzzi to dial up the blitzes. Dennard had a real nice year culminated with 2 INTs in the Outback bowl. Lewis is a really hard hitting strong safety that had multiple pick 6's this year (one to secure win over UM). We lose Trenton Robinson at FS. Both Drummond and Jones have playing experience and are probably more physically gifted than the 2 star TRob. However, it is difficult to replace the playing experience of a 3 year starter.
In summary, I expect the MSU defense to be very good next year. We return a TON of players and we were able to redshirt almost our entire recruiting class including 5 star Lawrence Thomas from Detroit.
If there is interest, I will post an offensive preview sometime in the future.