December 6, 2013

5 Questions: Michigan State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio- -- COLUMBUS, Ohio -- You have questions about Ohio State's Big Ten championship bout against Michigan State and, of course, we have answers. We caught up with Paul Konyndyk of to get the view from East Lansing.

1) Michigan State, of course, has been dominant on defense (allowing just 11.8 points and 237.7 yards a game.) What's been the key to such success? Obviously, some of that deals with scheme and personnel but is there another aspect of it?

Experience and chemistry are a big part of the success that Michigan State has had. Linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen have played next to each other for 39 consecutive games. Bullough and Allen are three-year starters, as is strong safety Isaiah Lewis, defensive end Marcus Rush, and corner Darqueze Dennard. The unusual number of two and three-year starters has allowed Michigan State to make effective on-field adjustments instead of waiting until halftime to tweak the scheme.

The emergence of Shilique Calhoun as a legit pass-rush threat off the edge has helped Michigan State continue its evolution as a defense. I've said it a bunch of times this year, Calhoun is what Will Gholston was supposed to be. Gholston was a quality defensive lineman, but he wasn't an edge threat.

The trademark of Michigan State's quarters zone defense is corners playing press coverage on the outside. Dennard, a Thorpe Award Finalist, and Trae Waynes do it as well as any tandem that has played for the Spartans since Mark Dantonio took over the program seven years ago.

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