MSU projected starting defense for those interested. ** indicates returning starter. * indicates returning contributor For those not, please disregard.
DE: Tyler Hoover*/RS Sophomore
DT: Jerel Worthy**/RS Sophomore
DT: Blake Treadwell*/Sophomore
DE: Colin Neely**/Senior
OLB: Eric Gordon**/Senior
MLB: Greg Jones**/Senior
OLB: Chris Norman*/Sophomore
DB: Johnny Adams*/RS Sophomore
DB: Chris L. Rucker**/Senior
FS: Trenton Robinson**/RS Sophomore
SS: Marcus Hyde**/Senior
Key Losses (our Defense was pretty terrible so tough to call any one loss "key"):
Trevor Anderson (DE)
Jeremy Ware (CB)
Oren Wilson (DT)
Brandon Denson (LB).
The strength of this group is obviously the LB core anchored by Greg Jones. Gordon is a very solid/respectable Big Ten LB. Normon was a prized recruit, but his freshman year was a waste IMO and he should have redshirted IMO. There is also a lot of talk of MSU switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4. I suspect we will do this a lot on 3rd down passing situations in an effort to get 5-star recruit Will Gholston on the field. In my experience, I don't expect much from true freshman recruits that play "physical positions" regardless of their star rating. With that said, I think WG could be an effective pure pass rusher in passing situations. I just don't think he is physically ready to play 1st and 2nd down against run heavy type teams.
The Defensive Line should be adequate. At Defensive Tackle, Jerel Worthy was very good as a redshirt freshman. Blake Treadwell was a high level recruit and I expect him to be servicible in his second year. We also have experienced depth behind them in Kevin Pickleman and Juco Anthony White.
Defensive End we are in search of a playmaker. Tyler Hoover played his best game of the season in the bowl game against T.Tech. He is also one of those "spring practice superstars". We'll see if it carries over into the regular season. Colin Neely is on the other side. He was solid against the run last year, but is not a dynamic pass rusher.
The giant ??????? is the secondary. We were awful against the pass last year. Part of the secondary's struggle can be attributed to the lack of pressure from the front 4. We had a decent sack total last year, but that is fools gold because a large %% of our sacks came from blitzes which leaves your DB's vulnerable. Our two starting CB's are actually pretty good. Chris L Rucker has a lot of experience and could be in the running for a 2nd team all big ten. Johnny Adams played as a true freshman (had a nice pick 6 against Purdue), but sat out least year after his grandmother passed away before the ND game. A lot is expected out of him. The fear at the CB position is the lack of death. If one of these two gets hurt we are left with Freshman or RedShirt Freshman in their place.
The giant hole on this defense IMO is at the safety position. Marcus Hyde is a hitter and good in run support but is very poor in pass coverage. As a senior I think he is what he is at this point in his career. There is at least hope with Trenton Robinson at the other safety spot as he is still young enough to expect improvement.