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Michigan State Spring Football Primer via Big Ten Nation


In conjunction with Big Ten Nation and co-founder Austin Bramley, we will be taking a look at the Michigan State Spartans, who feature one of the top rated quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft in Kirk Cousins.

This is a Michigan State program that is coming off of one of the more underrated seasons in school history. They got absolutely shelled in a bowl game against Alabama, but it was a solid season overall for them, as they started off 8-0 before getting drubbed by Iowa. Without further adieu…

Who would have thought that at the end of the 2010 regular season, Michigan State would win a school record 11 games and a share of the Big Ten title.  Michigan state finished the season 11-2, only losing twice, both times in blow out fashion. They lost on the road to Iowa 37-6 and Alabama in the Capital One bowl 49-7 but managed to finish 14th in the final polls. That’s the second time in three years Michigan State has finished in the top 25 to end the year.

In 2010 Michigan State graduated a senior class that quit frankly won ball games. They went 33-19 as Spartans, the best four year mark in school history.  It’s pretty surprising how this team was so overlooked in contending for the Big Ten title, they had the most wins in four years in the 114 year history of the program.

With a great senior class brings big losses at certain positions that need to be replaced in order to continue the great success at Michigan State. Michigan State loses two All-American Linebackers in Greg Jones and Eric Gordon. Jones and Gordan combined for 95 starts, that’s the most combined starts for a linebacking duo in Michigan State football history.  The likely starters at linebackers next year for the Spartans are Junior Chris Norman, Junior Steve Gardiner and Sophomore Denicos Allen. Norman played in all 12 games last season and started in ten of those games. He was at STAR linebacker for the Spartans but will likely move to SAM this season.

Norman was sixth in tackling last season for MSU averaging 4.5 tackles per game. Gardiner saw action in all 13 games last season and became a star on special teams. He had 21 tackles on defense but had 13 tackles on special teams which was good enough to rank second on the team. Allen was a red-shirt freshman last season and saw action in every game primarily on special teams. He recorded four tackles in the Capital One bowl loss to Alabama.

Michigan State also losses Aaron Bates who was 13th in the country in punting with an average of 45 yards per attempt.

The good news is Michigan State returns some key players on the offensive side of the ball. They return their key leader in Kirk Cousins who has been the man in charge for the last three years for the Spartans. Cousins has an overall record of 16-9 in 25 starts and had a 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio (2o touchdowns, 10 interceptions) last season.

The back field will look very similar for the Spartans next season as they return all three contributing tailbacks. Edwin Baker, LeVon Bell and Larry Cooper all return for MSU, these running backs had 99 percent of the teams rushing yards last season. Bell was fourth in the Big Ten in rushing and 30th in the country.

Although Michigan State did lose stud wide receiver in Mark Dell, they still return a bunch of talent at the wide receiver position including B.J cunningham and Keyshawn Martin.

Michigan State definitely has some question marks but they will more than likely carry their momentum from their biggest year in school history and get to their fifth straight bowl game.

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