Saturday’s opponent Wisconsin will bring another challenge to the Michigan State Spartans defense and linebacker coach Mark Snyder fully expects his guys to be ready to meet the challenge head on.
“They (Wisconsin) are very, very tough,” said Snyder. “They are very well coached. It started with Coach (Barry) Alvarez. He’s going to have a guy in there who knows how to run the ball. Coach (Paul) Chryst can do that. We will have our hands full. It is a very well-coached football team. Very physical, but we pride ourselves on that as well.”
Saturday may be the day Snyder gets one of his backers back on the field for more reps as Ed Davis continues to work his way back after missing last season and being cleared just recently by the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. But don’t be surprised if the Spartans continue to take baby steps with Davis.
“We wanted to play him a little bit more,” he said. “Once the quarterback broke out on a run and Chris Frey had to run him down, Ed’s not quite there yet, so we felt like we would hold him back another week and try to hold him back a little bit this week.
“He is getting better every day. You’re seeing more and more confidence. He’s still got a way to go, but he is coming every day.”
One player Snyder is not worried about is Jon Reschke as he continues to raise his game.
“Jon is a versatile player,” he said. “He’s got good speed, good hands, smart player, good guy. That’s why he is starting for us.”
As for Riley Bullough, Snyder has seen the fifth-year senior continue to step forward as a vocal leader of the defense.
“Riley is the one cog right now that is our voice,” explained Snyder. “There is no doubt about it. Last year, you had Shilique (Calhoun), you had ‘LT’ (Lawrence Thomas), you had Joel Heath, you have Riley. You had some guys on that front seven that stepped up. That is what we are working towards right now. It has to be more than just him. And that is a challenge in my room right now. More of those guys have step up.”
With so many linebackers at his disposal, Snyder has been happy with the overall attitude of each of them as they battle for reps.
“I have a great room,” he said. “Those guys are all buddies. It is all about the team. They are all going to get their snaps. You get as your work deserves, so the hot hand is going to be the one playing. They get that and they understand that.”
So far this season the top three tacklers on the Spartans defense are linebackers as Bullough, Andrew Dowell and Chris Frey have all posted double digits in the stat column. If Reschke can continue to play as he did against the Irish, he’ll soon be right with his running mates.