The Spartans stand with a 4-2 overall mark on the season with their only losses coming to No.7 ranked Notre Dame (AP & Coaches) and No.8 ranked Ohio State (AP). Both teams enter this weekend undefeated with the Spartans out of both polls.
Much was expected out of the defensive line despite the loss of Jerel Worthy early to the NFL Draft. William Gholston was to explode this fall but has lacked the pass rush many expected out of him as he's only recorded one sack and four quarterback hurries. Marcus Rush is right behind Gholston on the stat sheet as the duo has combined for 43 total tackles, two sacks and seven hurries. Both players have done a good job of making plays behind the line of scrimmage and are not the main reason for the unit's performances to date.
With Worthy gone many wondered what Anthony Rashad White was capable of doing and we've now learned. So far this season White has posted nine total tackles a half sack and one quarterback hurry. Micajah Reynolds is right with White leaving room for James Kittredge to sneak into the rotation posting ten tackles and a couple of sacks and quarterback hurries.
While the unit overall is not bad it is not up to the level many expected dropping our mid-term grade.
Position Grade: B-
There is no mistaking linebacker play is major in Pat Narduzzi's defensive scheme and the Spartans are led by Max Bullough who again is playing solid leading the team in tackles. Chris Norman may have slipped a little bit against Indiana but overall this fall he's been solid posting 30 tackles and three sacks.
Denicos Allen is learning teams now know who he is and game plan accordingly. Allen is still solid at the SAM position and is currently fourth on the team in tackles. Spartan fans also know he could be one game away from breaking out and posting double-digit sacks in a game.
Overall this unit has led the Spartans charge in the first half of the season. If the defensive line can get things in gear opposing teams will have to really account for this position group.
Position Grade: A+
You never really want to see a member of your secondary listed in the top two in tackles. But Isaiah Lewis is there with 34 total tackles on the season. Lewis has looked to wreck havoc on opposing offenses and at times has even knocked a few of his teammates out of the game.
Darqueze Dennard is fifth on the team in tackles and Johnny Adams is eighth. Dennard has been solid but Adams has seen teams go after him early giving up at least one big pass play each game. While some will come down hard on Adams he's still one of the top cover corners in the Big Ten and should be expected to have a better second half of the season. When you combine the numbers of Lewis and Jairus Jones you have a total of 52 tackles from the strong safety spot.
Overall the position has not been great but is better than many in the country. We may be a little hard with our grade midway through the season but a lot was expected out of this group.
Position Grade: B