Tressel's Defense Will Only Get Better - And Tressel Isn't Leaving For Ohio State

Tressel's Defense Will Only Get Better - And Tressel Isn't Leaving For Ohio State

Columnists

Tressel's Defense Will Only Get Better - And Tressel Isn't Leaving For Ohio State

With the 2018 football season now finished, kaput, done, over with, and finally in the rearview mirror, the final stats are official.  Michigan State’s defense was – and will continue to be – strikingly good.

Contact @crowleysullivan

We’re running out of ways to say this but we’ll keep trying to find different ways to make it clear –

As frustrating as the 2018 season was for Michigan State football, the Spartan defense should give the program and its fans reason to find silver linings (at the very least) and reason to think that 2019 can be what the 2018 season was supposed to be.

The final statistics are in and the Supreme Court will not be needed to come in and check the hanging chads.

Michigan State’s 2018 defense was among the absolute best in the nation and there isn’t any disputing this – not even if you’re a fan of a team that was supposed to have won several national championships by now, has yet to win even a division championship during this era, and you have a ridiculous t-shirt that now only works as a toilet-cleaning rag.

Take a look at these final numbers for the Michigan State defense –

  • Rushing defense: 1st in the nation (77.9 yards per game).
  • Scoring defense: 8th in the nation (17.2 points per game).
  • 3rd-down conversions: 8th (30.2 pct.)
  • 4th-down conversions: 8th in the nation (35.3 pct.).
  • Total defense: 10th in the nation (303.2 yards per game).
  • First downs allowed: tied-10th in the nation (213).
  • Pass efficiency defense: 20th in the nation (114.08).
  • Red-zone defense: tied-36th in the nation (80.0 pct.).
  • Passing yards allowed: 62nd in the nation (225.2 yards per game).
  • Turnover margin: tied-63rd in the nation (0.08).

Okay – there are three areas where Mike Tressel and his gang will need to improve.

  • Red-zone defense – tied for 36th in the nation at 80% shows there is room for improvement once the opponent manages to get deep into Spartan territory.
  • Passing yards allowed – tied for 62nd in the nation at 225.2 yards per game shows that the lock-down discipline of the second half of the season has to start from the opening kick of the season’s first game.  Josiah Scott being on the field from the start of the 2019 season should go a long way towards making sure the pass defense ends the 2019 season closer to the Top 10.  Justin Layne’s departure for the NFL will have to be dealt with – but anyone who watched Josh Butler play lock-down defense in the Redbox Bowl against Oregon should be encouraged.
  • Turnover margin – tied for 63rd in the nation at .08 shows that there has to be a greater emphasis on capitalizing on opportunities for interceptions and for following Chuck Bullough’s order – go after the ball at all times.

With the announcement that Kenny Willekes will return and not enter the NFL Draft, there is every reason to think that this defense can be every bit as good in 2019 as it was in the season that just ended.

And here are two thoughts on how it can be even better:

First –

Michigan State’s offense simply cannot be any worse than it was in 2018 and that will lead to the Spartan defense being stronger late in close games.

The Spartan defense tired in losses to Northwestern, Michigan, and Ohio State due to the offense’s inability to sustain drives and capitalize on scoring opportunities.

Since it will be literally impossible for the Michigan State offense to be as inefficient and unproductive as it was in 2018, SpartansWire is confident that the defense will be stronger, faster, and even more aggressive for the full 60 minutes of the tough battles that will occur in 2019.

Second –

Michigan State’s defensive front is going to be stronger, faster, and more experienced in 2019 than it was in 2018.  This is going to lead to even greater pressure created in the pocket, more harassment of the quarterback, and more sacks.

This is going to make the job of the defensive secondary a bit easier since opposing quarterbacks will have less time and less confidence in being able to find receivers.

Mike Tressel – Michigan State’s first-year lone defensive coordinator after Harlon Barnett departed for Florida State after last season – demonstrated that he’s a sensational defensive coordinator.

There are star defensive coordinators around the Big Ten who make for great memes as they snarl and shout and look mean and tough who surrendered 62 points and 41 points in final games this season.

Any defense that surrenders 62 points and 41 points in its final two games – key, season-defining games – doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Mike Tressel’s defense.

Michigan State surrendered 31 points in the season-opening victory over Utah State and no team scored that many points on the Spartan defense the rest of the way.

Ohio State managed 26 points against Michigan State – there are all sorts of nuanced dynamics we could analyze and address that qualify the 26 points but we’ll go ahead and just leave it at the fact that the Buckeyes scored 26 points at Spartan Stadium.

When your team has a defense that’s touted as one of the best in the country, it simply shouldn’t perform like a 6th grade defense in your team’s biggest games by surrendering 62 points and 41 points.

Just to show that we have an acute self-awareness – no offense should ever score 6, 10, 6, and 6 points in its final four games and 7, 19, and 13 points in the other season-defining games.

Michigan State’s defense isn’t going to surrender 62 points in any game played in 2019.

Michigan State’s defense isn’t going to surrender 41 points in any game played in 2019.

And the thinking here is that the Michigan State offense is going to find ways in 2019 to perform up to the standard that the defense has established.

So, be cautiously optimistic about the 2019 season, Spartan fans.

The offense cannot be any worse.

And if it’s even slightly average rather than, literally, among the worst offenses in the nation, Michigan State will be right back at it in 2019.

And Mike Tressel isn’t going to leave Michigan State to go and coach for Ohio State.

And Ron Burton isn’t going to leave Michigan State to go and coach for Ohio State either.

Latest

More SpartansWire
Home