Michigan State has been very streaky the last few seasons and that did not change last year. They started great, but then hit a wall. Mark Dantonio has a tough task ahead, have they found pieces to replace Javon Ringer and Brian Hoyer on offense? Joe Pasquali is here to breakdown Michigan State in this part of the Big Ten Preview.
Finishing T-#4 in the Big Ten
Michigan State Spartans (Predicted finish 8-4)
Summary– It’s a somewhat put up or shut up year for the Spartans, and I think they will put up. I know that sounds weird since I am predicting them for 8 wins, but they will have to earn ALL nine of them. Games at Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Illinois, along with welcoming Iowa and Penn State to East Lansing should make a tough year for MSU. It is nice they have so many returning starters, but anytime you got a new QB at the helm a projected 8-4 year can easily become a 6-6 one.
Offense (B-)– Brian Hoyer was no Drew Stanton, but it was nice he knew the offense and managed games fairly well. Handing the ball off to Javon Ringer was mainly his job last season, and he did that pretty well. Ringer will be THE most missed offensive player in the Big Ten this season. He carried MSU on his back last year, rushing for 1637 yards and 22 touchdowns. Should be more of a running back by committee year for the Spartans, which is not always a bad thing.
Defense (A-)– This will be the best Michigan State defense the country has seen in a LONG time. Not usually known for a dominating D, MSU should surprise plenty of fans but few coaches this year. Greg Jones will be a finalist for Big Ten defensive player of the year and should strike fear into opposing offenses. Along with him, Michigan State 8 starters from a defense that ranked in the top half of the nation last year.
Special Teams (A)– Brett Swenson and Aaron Bates are the best kicker/punter tandem in the conference. Swenson was 22-28 on field goals last year, including 6-7 between 40-49 yards.
Coaching (B)– Mark Dantonio is one of the up and coming coaches in the conference and seems to have the Spartans heading in the right direction. I would have given him a higher grade, but 2009 should be tough. We’ll see how he handles it.