3 Keys To The Season, Defense: #1, The Return Of The No Fly Zone

3 Keys To The Season, Defense: #1, The Return Of The No Fly Zone

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3 Keys To The Season, Defense: #1, The Return Of The No Fly Zone

We complete our look at the The 3 Keys To The Season on both offense and defense with the #1 key to the defense – the return of the No Fly Zone…

Contact @crowleysullivan

A while back, we took a good look at the names and faces of Michigan State’s original No Fly Zone in an attempt to remind ourselves just how high of a standard that “brand” represents.

When Michigan State won the 2013 Big Ten Championship and that season’s Rose Bowl over Stanford, it’s reasonable to suggest that the main reason for the team’s ability to finish the season as the #3 team in the nation was that original No Fly Zone.

Need a refresher on who those guys were?

Darqueze Dennard.

Trae Waynes.

Isaiah Lewis.

Kurtis Drummond.

R.J. Williamson.

Darian Hicks.

Demetrious Cox.

Arjen Colquhoun.

Jermaine Edmondson.

Mylan Hicks.

This collection of Spartans – and others – helped to establish a brand, a rallying cry, and a mentality that created havoc for opposing offenses during some of the most successful seasons in the history of the program.

And, there is every reason to believe that the progress that was made in 2017 with a defensive secondary that improved dramatically after the 2016 disaster will not only continue in 2018 but will elevate in ways that may, indeed, require the makers of the NO FLY ZONE t-shirts to crank up the t-shirt making machines again.

How about these names as the new stewards of the t-shirts and bumper stickers and banners and hashtags?

Josiah Scott.

Khari Willis.

David Dowell.

Justin Layne.

Dominique Long.

Matt Morrissey.

Tyson Smith.

Josh Butler.

Shakur Brown.

Kalon Gervin.

Xavier Henderson.

Tre Person.

Corey Pryor.

When any Spartan takes a look at that list of studs who are ready to patrol the secondary, attack the line of scrimmage, and cause havoc for quarterbacks with timely and punishing blitzes, does any Spartan see any holes in the list of committed maniacs who are anxious to earn No Fly Zone status?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the final 2017 Big Ten defensive category stats and how Michigan State fared:

  • 2017 Total Defense – 297 yards per game, 4.9 yards per play, 27 touchdowns allowed, all good for 3rd in the Big Ten.
  • 2017 Scoring Defense – 20 points per game, 6th in the Big Ten.
  • 2017 Pass Defense – 202.3 yards per game, 6.2 yards per pass completion, 15 touchdowns, all good for 7th in the Big Ten.
  • 2017 Pass Defense Efficiency – 113.5, 5th in the Big Ten.
  • 2017 Interceptions – 14, 4th in the Big Ten.
  • 2017 Opponents 3rd Down Conversions – 32.8%, 5th place in the Big Ten.
  • 2017 Red Zone Defense – Opponents scored 87.1% of the time, 27 out of 31 chances, 18 touchdowns and 9 field goals, all good for 11th place in the Big Ten.

When we look back at those stats, it’s actually surprising to think that Michigan State was able to finish the season 10-3 since the finishes from category to category aren’t necessarily overly impressive.

This suggests that when it came time to make plays on defense, this defense made plays.

Think about the how the defense made play after play, particularly late in the game, in the 14-10 win over UMAA.

Think about how the defense made play after play, particularly late in the game, in the 27-24 win over Penn State.

The secondary unit for Michigan State enters the 2018 season with, perhaps, just as much skill and experience as the 2013 secondary.

It’s reasonable to think that this unit can improve – even slightly – on last year’s categorical finishes.

And, as we’ve pointed out, the defensive front is only going to be stronger than it was last year and that will only help this secondary become elite – see our commentary on the defensive line here –

https://spartanswire.com/2018/08/02/3-keys-to-the-season-defense-3-make-al-davis-a-spartan-fan/

There are NFLers in this unit and they’re ready to rock in 2018.

And if Shea Patterson is able to pick these guys apart, we’ll be the first ones to tip our cap to the Mississippi transfer.

Memo to t-shirt makers and brand builders everywhere – time to get the 2018 brand established, the font style of the words themselves properly updated, and perhaps a theme song to accompany the unit.

Get ready, folks.

The No Fly Zone will be patrolling and dominating all season long – let’s prepare to join in on the fun….

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