How good will MSU be next year?

Submitted by MGoStrength on December 8th, 2013 at 5:25 PM

How good will Michigan State be next year without this group of seniors?  Since 2011 I had always assumed MSU would have a strong team through 2013 based on the group of defensive players that graduate this year.  But, MSU also has a number of offensive players graduating this year too, namely 3 offensive linemen.  But, the majority of difference makers will be lost on defense including Lewis, Dennard, Bullough, Allen, Hoover, and Reynolds.  I also wonder if Drummond may enter the draft.  That’s a lot of experienced defenders up the middle.  I personally see them taking a step back next year.  What are your thoughts?  I know it seems silly to worry about MSU but lets face, they’ve won 5 of the last 6 and we haven’t beaten them in E. Lansing since Carr and “Little brother”.



December 8th, 2013 at 5:28 PM ^

We've been calling that for the past 5 years and it hasn't happened. The senior contributers you named were made by the great coaching staff, and are by no means irreplaceable. They'll graduate, new guys will step up, MSU will remain very very good.


December 8th, 2013 at 5:31 PM ^

I think they will be pretty good as well, but I don't think it's out of the question that their defense takes a significant step back (i.e. being only top 20, rather than top 3).  Their offense seems to have hit its stride, so they will have an above average unit on both sides of the ball.  They will be a 9+ win team.

Magnum P.I.

December 8th, 2013 at 5:51 PM ^

MSU was a good team last year, and their record doesn't reflect it. They lost 6 games, yes, but their defense kept them in every game, and every loss was extremely close (save ND, where MSU still held them to 300 total yards and 1-14 on third down).

People keep pointing to last year as some sort of proof that MSU isn't really that good, but I think the evidence suggests that last year was the exception to the rule that they've been a consistently very good team the last five or six years. 


December 8th, 2013 at 6:28 PM ^

That doesn't address Magnum's point.  The past four seasons to me is a better indicator of MSU and Dantonio's coaching quality (11-3, 11-2, 7-6, 12-1).  Yes, Dantonio's first 3 seasons can be labeled "mediocre," but an upward trend is sure more encouraging than the reverse (especially considering the state MSU was at when he took over).

Plus, although MSU had a 7-6 record last year, I was left with an uneasy feeling since many of those losses were so close....sure "loss is a loss," but there was glimpse of hope for the  next season for them since it was clear what MSU had to do to make the next step -- make their offense go from atrocious to marginally competent...something MSU coaching staff has done well.

Our offensive deficiency was made pretty clear this season...I''m looking forward to see how coach and Hoke will come back the next season (and I'm sure Hoke understands the importance of this coming season).


December 8th, 2013 at 7:44 PM ^

make their offense go from atrocious to marginally competent...something MSU coaching staff has done well.

This is interesting - just two months ago, Bollman was a laughingstock, even in East Lansing. With a veteran OL he got his unit to perform as the year went on. (OSU fans are still in disbelief that a Bollman offense beat them.) Next year, breaking in a new OL, will he be able keep it up? We'll see.


December 16th, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

We know why Dantonio rode Leveon Bell so much last season.  Maxwell was a bad QB and Cook wasn't ready.  I give Dantonio  credit for having the stones to sit the senior and play the better QB. I wish Hoke had played DG at QB and moved Denard to WR/HB hybrid at the start of 2012.


December 8th, 2013 at 8:27 PM ^

And they won every Big 10 game this year by 10+ point, an uprecedented achievement in the modern era of the conference (post 1950).   Sort of hilarious how so many people cling onto 2012 as the rule rather than the exception of the rule.   It took him a few years to build the base but the last 4 years he has 3 years of excellence there and 1 average/bad year.  If you look at Harbaugh's record he had "3 years of mediocrity" before exploding in year 4 with a great record.  So if he had continued 3 more years with Stanford people here I guess would say well Harbaugh is up and down - look at his first 3 years at Stanford!!  Makes zero sense.

If anyone has been the exception it has been Michigan's 11 win season as it is out of place with the record the past 6 years.  Whereas MSU's exception lately was the 7 win season.  I'd rather have their exception than ours.   They look to be a 9 to 10 win team next year with a tough road game at Oregon.

They get Nebraska at home, UM at home, and OSU at home.  Frankly they will be favored in all but 2 of their games IMO and OSU I think will be taking a step back with OL losses and Hyde gone so they should be favored in that game as well.  The road Oregon game will be the only obvious underdog in 2014.  Maybe PSU on the road depending on Hackenberg has that team rolling.


December 8th, 2013 at 8:23 PM ^

Losing those 3 guys for msu will be huge. I watched a replay of the 1997 Ohio / Michigan in which Michigan had one of the greatest defenses I can remember seeing play. Woodson was absolutely a game changer. One of the coaches interviewed during the Big Ten network telecast was talking with coach carr and said neither one of them could believe how the loss of one player (referring to the loss of Woodson the following year) could so drastically affect the complexion of their entire defense/team.
Now take a look at the confidence msu put in Bullough and denard. Bullough did everything right. Denard locked receivers down all game...allowing them to blitz and not get burned. I gotta believe they will feel their loss a lot next season.


December 8th, 2013 at 8:25 PM ^

Waynes who is a 2 or 3 star 2011 player has played nearly as well as Dennard in the games I have watched.  In fact I think Dennard PI's more than Waynes.   This sounds a lot like "once Greg Jones goes, MSU D will return to form".  They have 2 lockdown corners this year - next year they will probably have 1 and then a young guy they develop who will turn into one by 2015.


December 8th, 2013 at 5:57 PM ^

For the last 5 years? 5 years ago they had a losing record (6-7).

Last year they went 7-6. So it's happened.

People are writing a revisionist history now when it comes to MSU. They had a spectacular season, but they've been pretty up and down under Dantonio. That's not a knock on him. It's just people are suddenly acting like they are a juggernaut of a program when they clearly aren't.

Most of the years they've been up of late their record has been inflated by a laughably weak schedule, much like ours was in 2011.

I would guess that if you go back and look at their record versus ranked teams it would probably be a losing record over that same 5 year span. No better than five hundred. 

In short, the Big Ten is embarrasingly bad.


December 8th, 2013 at 7:03 PM ^

Not to be a jerk or anything, but PurpleStuff has this covered elsewhere. It's difficult to make the case (at least as far as the '13 Spartan team is concerned) that their success is due to our '09 class (which, in fact, may prove to be better than the four preceding it).


December 8th, 2013 at 6:03 PM ^

I remember after getting stoned in 2011 looking at their 2 deep on defense and being deflated when I saw just how young that defense was.  Mark D. has built a program that is going to stay good but I have little doubt that this was a high water mark.


December 8th, 2013 at 8:18 PM ^

A small step back.

Major losses will be Max Bullough and Dennard on defense.  All the other seniors are replaceable.  Ed Davis who burst on the scene the last 4-5 games, will take Denicos Allen spot.  They lose some guys up front, but Calhoun is going to be preseason All American.  Bullough will be replaced by Reschke it looks like or maybe his younger brother - that is the main spot they will take a few steps back.  As for the other corner they have a bunch of youngsters and Dantonio has shown he just finds athletes and plugs them in as corner... so it will be a step back since you lose a NFL draft pick at senior but Dennard was a 2 star and they are getting better than 2 stars now to replace.

They were a top 10 defense in 2011 and 2012, and I expect a top 10-12 defense in just wont be #1 overall.

On offense just about every skill player other than Fowler returns.  Cook will be a year in the system and took massive steps late in the year; has a NFL arm and is very Stanton like but with a better arm (and less of a runner)... lots of moxie and 3rd down production.  Langford has been a frigging revelation at RB, and Delton Williams who is their version of Green will help him in 2014.  The main issue is OL - as you stated they lose some seniors but have a 0 star playing left tackle and their center was an All American freshman in 2012 and did fine this year.  The guy they took from OSU as co-offensive coordinator seems to be their main OL guy and he really shored up that one area which has been a MSU weakness under Dantonio.  I say a step back there but they were rotating some 8-9 OLs in this year so not as much as people would hope.

As others have said people around these parts have been saying "they will take a step back once so and so leaves" for a few years now.  With their ability to develop players and their pipeline starting to turn up (instead of recruiting in the 40s they are starting to get into the low 30s and have a chance for upper 20s - along with heavy favorites for a lot of 2015 Michigan kids) there are going nowhere until Dantonio leaves the program.   Michigan has not been competitive with them the past few years aside from their worst team in 4 years, which we beat by a massive 2 points at home. 


December 8th, 2013 at 5:32 PM ^

I literally just finished typing a comment in another thread posing this exact question, then before I hit save look over and see this title. That's the real question that needs answering, and I have no idea. I expected them to be only ok this year, they exceeded all expectations. I hope they fall flat, but doubt they will. Hope like hell I'm wrong. 

Section 1

December 8th, 2013 at 5:32 PM ^

... to "graduation."  

Narduzzi, graduating to a head coaching job.  Dantonio, graduating to a richer and/or more attractive program.  A Texas, a South Carolina, a Georgia, a Miami, a Tennessee.  Pick whatever Top 20 program you want, and among the 4 or 5 of those where there might be a vacancy.

The Dantonio buyout is, I think, around $3m.  The other little thing is that after he hangs around for 2014, Dantonio gets an automatic longevity bonus of what I think is more than a million.  So start with a price tag of $4m just to talk to Dantonio.  His annual salary is around $1.85m if I recall correctly.


December 8th, 2013 at 5:35 PM ^

Narduzzi going to UConn or a similiar school. He has been MSU's DC since Mork came to MSU. 


MSU has been pointing to this season because they are aware of how much they are losing. The loss of Narduzzi far outweighs the personnel losses because you have no way of knowing if his successor will be anywhere as good.


December 8th, 2013 at 5:39 PM ^

I think Dantonio loves sticking it to UM so much that he'll never go anywhere.  I think he thrives as the underdog.  Although I think there's a fair chance Narduzzi leaves sonner rather than later.  But, I think this whole wish this coach or that coach would leave for (insert NFL or non-B1G team here) is a bit wishful thinking.  Ultimately there will always be Pete Carrolls, Urban Meyers, Jim Tressels, Nick Sabans, Mark Dantonios etc. somewhere.  If UM is ever going to be what we want them to be we have to be able to beat these coaches.  You can't wish for them to go away, you have to accept the challenge and face it head on.


December 8th, 2013 at 5:51 PM ^

significant imput that defense is clearly Narduzzi's. He is the one who coaches it, who designs the schemes, and who calls the play. Dantonio is a head coach and as such he has more to worry about than what the defense is doing.


Don't mistake me. I don't think MSU will be terrible defensively. I just don't think they will be as dominant as they have been. There is going to be a dropoff.


December 8th, 2013 at 6:21 PM ^

To me, this is a debate where both sides have merit.  Losing Narduzzi can't be considered a positive.  I mean, MSU's defense has been dominant under here, so you have a proven commodity.  Having said that, we know Dantonio is a defensive minded coach that influences the defense.  Along with this, why would we assume Dantonio couldn't find a quality replacement for a unit bubbling with depth, experience, and talent.  Maybe I'm underrating Narduzzi, but if there is a drop-off, I just wouldn't predict it being that significant, at least in the near future.