EAST LANSING - A trip inside the numbers provides a bit of insight on MSU's key defensive players and the numbers show that the Spartans are improving. Conversely, a closer look shows the special teams were not all the special on Saturday.
KIDDIE CORPS: Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi's scheme to play his younger players really paid off. Redshirt freshmen Jon Misch (9), Eric Gordon (6) and true freshman Greg Jones (7) combined for twenty-two tackles inclduing two for loss.
Look for MSU to run more of their 3-4 zone blitz look against Bowling Green, who's spread offense completely shredded Minnesota, who had a tough time getting off the football field, defensively.
The three four will allow the Spartans to run out veteran linebacker/safety Sir Darean Adams, who is excellent in getting into the passing lanes, onto the field or allows the flexibility of playing Misch, Gordon, senior Kaleb Thornhill and Jones together.
TWO DEEP: MSU got an eye-opening performance from corner Kendell Davis-Clark. The former Alliance, OH standout recorded two outstanding pass defenses, while finishing second in total tackles for State with seven overall.
Davis-Clark's speed and range give MSU perhaps their best cover corner in years. Clark combined with former Southfield standout Ross Weaver to give MSU a solid one-two punch at the corners.
While Otis Wiley only showed on the stat sheet with four tackles, his presence, range and football knowledge helped get the secondary where they needed to be, while both Travis Key (4) and Nehemiah Warrick made their presence felt, Warrick with some big hits, Key with his range.
NOT ALL THAT SPECIAL: Coach Dantonio admitted he was not all that happy with the kick coverage teams.
While MSU got decent kickoffs from Brett Swenson in releif of Todd Boleski (toe), UAB benefitted from some subpar coverage. The Blazers first field goal was a direct result of a kick return by Frantell Forrest's 56-yard return to the Spartans 33-yard line.
The punt coverage team could use some work also as UAB worked from a short field much of the fourth quarter. Their last three drives (which resulted in two field goals) started at the MSU 49, UAB 41 and UAB 35.
All total, UAB collected 232 kickoff return yards including 156 by Forrest alone, Rashaud Slaughter chipped in fifty-nine. MSU needs to reduce the number of yards on kicks and punts that they allow if they expect to be successful against (1-0) BGSU.
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