MSU brings top-10 defense to Kelly/Shorts
One of the biggest challenges facing head coach Dan Enos and the Central Michigan football team in this weekend’s game against Michigan State is trying to score against its defense.
The Spartans return eight starters from a group that ranked sixth in the nation in total defense in 2011. Few teams were able to move the ball against the Spartans.
“We’re going to have to try to do something that nobody else has done,” Enos said. “It’s going to be a challenge; we have to try and run the ball against them, which is very difficult.”
The Chippewas ran for 324 yards against Southeast Missouri, but things might be more difficult against MSU. The Spartans gave up just 37 rush yards last week to Boise State.
“They have very talented players,” Enos said. “Boise couldn’t run the ball; Georgia couldn’t run the ball. Wisconsin was able to do some things, but they have first-round draft picks on the offensive line, a quarterback who’s in the NFL and a running back who’s a Heisman candidate.”
MSU allowed 206 yards of total offense in its 17-13 season-opening win against the Broncos.
Up front, the Spartans are led by junior defensive end William Gholston, who led all Spartan defensive linemen with 70 tackles last season, including 16 for loss and five sacks. He is listed as a preseason candidate for multiple defensive honors. Sophomore Marcus Rush, who started as a freshman last year, had 58 tackles at the other defensive end.
Seniors Anthony Rashad White and Tyler Hoover are the defensive tackles.
The Spartans return all three starters at linebacker. Junior Max Bullough led MSU with 89 tackles last season and recorded a team-high seven tackles against the Broncos Friday.
Senior Chris Norman and junior Denicos Allen are the other two starting linebackers for MSU.
The secondary has two players that are on the preseason watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive back, in senior cornerback Johnny Adams and junior strong safety Isaiah Lewis.
Junior Darqueze Dennard is a returning starter at the other corner, and sophomore Curtis Drummond and redshirt freshman RJ Williamson, who had an interception against the Broncos, are the free safeties.
“They’re really well-coached, very sound and very physical,” Enos said. “We have to avoid negative yardage plays, because you can’t get yourself in third-and-long against these guys.”
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