Spartan Defense - "We want to get to #1 overall."

Spartan Defense - "We want to get to #1 overall."

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Spartan Defense - "We want to get to #1 overall."

The leaders of the Spartan defense have a goal for the 2018 season – to be the #1 defense in the nation.

Contact @crowleysullivan

As great as the 2017 turnaround season was for Michigan State, there were some potholes along the way to the Holiday Bowl victory and that final 10-3 record.

Last week after Michigan State’s first practice of Fall camp, potential All American linebacker Joe Bachie, a junior, said this as he responded to questions from the gaggle:

“Don’t give up 300-some yards to Ohio State and we’re number one.”

He was referring to the fact that Michigan State finished #2 in the nation against the run.

And the fact that Ohio State racked up about 900 yards on the ground against Michigan State.

What team wound up with the #1 defense in the nation against the run?

Alabama.

The National Champion Crimson Tide allowed a total of 1,326 rushing yards for an average of 94.7 yards per game.

Michigan State allowed a total of 1,239 rushing yards for an average of 95.3 yards per game on the ground.

You can see Bachie’s point.

How about the Spartans’ overall defensive performance in 2017?

In 2017, Michigan State finished 7th in the nation in Total Defense after allowing 297.6 yards per game, 4.87 yards per play, and a total of 27 touchdowns allowed by the opposing offense (doesn’t include special teams or defensive scores).

Alabama finished the season with the #1 overall defense.

The Tide’s numbers?

260 yards per game, 3.99 yards per play, and a total of 17 touchdowns scored by the opposing offense.

Has it registered yet that Michigan State’s defensive leader in the middle, Joe Bachie, is stating, pretty flatly and reasonably, that the goal of the Spartan defense is to outperform the Alabama defense?

Has it registered yet that when one looks at the actual statistical separation between the two teams from 2017 that Joe Bachie doesn’t need to have his brain examined?

The 48-3 thrashing in Columbus might just keep this Spartan defense hungry, motivated, and strategically focused all season long.

A 48-3 humiliation can do that to and for a team.

And Bachie’s right – if Michigan State can find a way to keep Ohio State from rushing for 6,000 yards this coming November 10th in East Lansing, there might be more than just defensive goals reached in 2018.

Can the Spartans keep Trace McSorley in check in a massive challenge on October 13th when Michigan State squares off with Penn State?

Even with Saquon Barkley, wide receiver DaeShawn Hamilton, and stud tight end Mike Gesicki all gone, Penn State has a weapon in the backfield starting with new stud Miles Sanders to go along with Ricky Slade as a potential threat as a speedster out of the slot.  And Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins will present challenges for the Spartan coverage unit.

For Northwestern, so much hinges on the health of star quarterback Clayton Thorson after he suffered a torn ACL in the Wildcats’ bowl game last year.

Can Northwestern replace Justin Jackson in the backfield and can the Cats find more explosiveness from their receiving corps, with or without Thorson?

In last year’s 14-10 victory over UMAA, Michigan State held UMAA to a total of 102 yards on the ground and a 198 yards through the air.

Yes, we know – it was raining during that game in Ann Arbor.

Both teams played in those conditions.

One team properly and strategically handled those conditions, another team thought it was good enough to ignore the conditions.

We’re not too concerned about the idea of Michigan State’s defense showing up when UMAA comes to East Lansing on October 20th.

Is it fair, on August 7th, to take a peek ahead and wonder if the Spartan defense can be up to the task of shutting down Ohio State’s rushing attack featuring All Everything running back J.K. Dobbins and the fifty other All Everything players the Buckeyes can run in and out of the backfield and the slot?

The Urban Meyer situation will be a factor – but Michigan State will still need to muscle up and stuff the run, shut down the pass. and make the plays necessary to show that last year’s 48-3 rout was an aberration.

Of course, every game and every opponent will present Michigan State with challenges all season long – it doesn’t only come down to the games we’ve noted above.

It’s safe to assume that, based on Joe Bachie’s comments, the Spartan defense has a very real goal in mind for the 2018 season.

And with the talent, depth, focus, and constant drive, it’s possible that Michigan State will reach more than just the goals that are being set by the defense.

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