5 To Watch: MSU Defense

Spartan Digest reporter Mike Wilson offers five players for Irish fans to monitor Saturday afternoon when the Spartans No. 1 ranked defense takes the field in South Bend.

#40 senior linebacker Max Bullough: Bullough is in his third year starting and is the unquestioned leader of the defense. Bullough is as valuable for the tangibles as the intangibles, being as good of a coach on the field as he is a player. He is a key cog in A-gap blitzes and plays well sideline to sideline in run defense and pass defense alike. Everything starts with Bullough and he is the one to adjust and audible routinely.

#89 sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun: Calhoun stepped into a starting role this season and has been nothing less than stellar. He has three touchdowns – two fumble recoveries and an interception – and is a force in the pass rush. He brings size, speed and athleticism to the defensive line and has two sacks on his resume as well. He was expected to be a very good player this season, but has far exceeded any and all expectations to date.

#31 senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard:Dennard is a four-year starter at cornerback after stepping in midway through his freshman year and never looking back. He is the No. 1 cornerback and is a lockdown corner with five pass breakups in the first three games.

With 4.3 speed, Dennard has shown that he can recover quickly and stick to receivers down field. MSU relies on its corners to be on an island to make the rest of the defense work and how well Dennard does against a pair of good Notre Dame receivers will have a big impact on the game. Expect him to blitz once or twice, too, as defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi likes to dial up corner blitzes from time to time.

#27 junior safety Kurtis Drummond: Drummond came onto the radar for MSU with an interception at Notre Dame two years ago and since then has established himself as a very good player in the secondary. He has an interception this season and a touchdown off a lateral from linebacker Jairus Jones. He leads the team in tackles with 17 and seems to always be around the ball. He will be used in covering slot receivers as well as roaming down the field.

#28 senior linebacker Denicos Allen: Allen is the ideal player for MSU to line up next to Bullough. He plays an outside spot that focuses on blitzes and living in the backfield. He has two sacks thus far this year and 15 total tackles. Allen is not the biggest linebacker, but he plays with speed and brings a higher degree of athleticism to the SAM spot for Michigan State. Expect to see him getting after the quarterback early and often.

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