EAST LANSING - Toughness has returned to the Spartan defense.
In the second game of the season, Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi's scheme contained Bowling Green's offense to two plays of 20 yards or more – one week after the Falcons slammed Minnesota for nine plays of 20 yards or more.
"Defensively I thought we did a great job," Narduzzi said at his post-game press conference. "The kids did a great job of adjusting and just playing the base defense. Basically we kept everything in front of us, we bent a little bit but we did not break."
Through the afternoon the defense played aggressively from its base 4-3 defense. D-lineman often stunted. Corners alternated between pressing at the line and dropping back into zone coverage. Zone blitzing was common, if not automatic, in most third down situations when the Spartans mixed things up by going into a 3-4.
"Third down and three-plus, we're always going to, you know, take a D-lineman out and put a nickel back in there on third down. That's what we do," Narduzzi said.
At one point Narduzzi even unveiled an empty-trenches look with no D-lineman.
"It's a little package that we (use to) try to confuse, it's a good first half thing. Not sure we executed it perfectly but the kids did well," he said.
The pressure paid off big. Michigan State recorded six sacks, two interceptions and 11 tackles for loss. A big reason for the success of the defense was in the play of the secondary, which produced three of the top four tacklers on the afternoon. The corners were particularly effective as Kendell Davis- Clark led the team with 12 tackles and Ross Weaver tied for fourth with 5. Even two-way stud Kellen Davis got into the mix on third downs, picking up his second sack of the season at defensive end.
The secondary even helped the front seven with great coverage that led to sacks. Bowling Green QB Tyler Sheehan found nothing but Spartan pressure on several plays.
But even with such an exemplary performance by his secondary, Narduzzi pointed to the job his team did up front. Bowling Green managed only 47 yards in 25 rushing attempts.
"The number one key is, again, they could not run the ball," Narduzzi said. "They could not run the ball."
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