When college football fans think of Michigan State they think defense first. Key looses on and off the field have many wondering if Mark Dantonio can keep the Spartans as one of the top defensive units in the country.
We look a few key questions the Spartans must answer as they continue work towards the annual Green-White game in Spartan Stadium.
Does the loss of Pat Narduzzi change the Spartans defense?
There was no mistaking the defensive mind and energy Narduzzi brought to the Spartans on defense. However, defensive has always been a starting ground for Dantonio and the movement of Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel to the forefront will keep the same scheme and style of play a staple of the Spartans. The biggest change to start will see Barnett and Tressel both in the coaches box during game. Adding veteran coach Mark Snyder to the staff was a great move by Dantonio as they have a previous working relationship and understanding.
Who steps up and fills the void left by Trae Waynes?
Another in a long line of prospects Dantonio recruited who earned three stars or less out of high school about to be drafted high. Waynes could prove to be a bigger loss than Darqueze Dennard was last season. However, all reports have the Spartan coaching staff feeling good about the development of Demetrious Cox
Will the Spartans defensive line be the best of the Dantonio era?
The Spartans lose great production out of Marcus Rush but seven letterwinners return with many feeling this could be the best starting four to line up in the trenches since Dantonio took over the program. Shilique Calhoun has support from Demetrius Cooper, Lawrence Thomas is now listed at the other end spot with Evan Jones looking to get reps. Joel Heath and Malik McDowell will man the middle with young but talented players backing them up. If the core can stay healthy, production from the front four could be extremely high.
Will Riley Bullough man the middle of the Spartans defense?
A Bullough at linebacker for Michigan State only seems natural and Riley Bullough will be given every chance to replace Taiwan Jones at the MIKE linebacker spot. However, he will be challenged as highly recruited Jon Reschke, Shane Jones and his own younger brother, Byron Bullough all look to push the junior to get on the field.
Can Malik McDowell avoid the sophomore slump?
After the crazy recruiting journey McDowell traveled to become a Spartan, he enjoyed a great freshman year earning Freshman All-American honors. Now the question surrounding the talented McDowell will be if he can avoid all the hype and have another productive year.