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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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Page 80 of 91

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 81 THREE THINGS 1 Michigan State re- turns nine defen- sive starters from a unit that ranked No. 7 in the nation in total defense. In order for the unit to go from good to great, the pass rush must improve. Mich- igan State ranked ninth in the Big Ten in sacks last year and usually had to blitz in order to get pressure on a quarterback. Former walk-on Kenny Willekes is a quality all-around defensive end (seven sacks, third-team All-Big Ten), but he needs help. Michigan State can't make a serious run at returning to the College Football Playoff without the threat of getting heat on a quarterback with a standard four-man rush. Unless unproven players emerge as heroes Michigan State isn't likely to improve enough in this category to be a serious national contender. 2 With former co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett mov- ing on for the sole D.C. role at Florida State, Mike Tressel now moves from co-coordinator to sole coordinator at Mich- igan State. MSU's base defense and style of play won't change much, but Barnett's replacement as the main secondary coach, Paul Haynes, will have big shoes to fill. 3 Senior L.J. Scott has had big moments in his career, includ- ing a game-winning TD plunge in the 2015 Big Ten Cham- pionship Game. But he has never eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season. Michigan State needs more consistency from him this year, and fewer fumbles. — Jim Comparoni, publisher of TIME: TBA | DATE: OCT. 27 | LOCATION: EAST LANSING, MICH. | TV: TBA COACH: MARK DANTONIO (100-45, 12TH SEASON) 2017 RECORD: 10-3 STARTERS RETURNING (OFFENSE/ DEFENSE): 10/9^ SERIES VS. PURDUE: 35-28-3 LAST MEETING: MICHIGAN STATE, 24-21 ON OCT. 3, 2015, IN SPARTAN STADIUM ^ ATHLON GBI EARLY L I N E : M S U - 10 Game 8 | Michigan State Michigan State's 2018 Schedule 8/31 UTAH STATE 9/8 at Arizona State 9/22 at Indiana 9/29 CENTRAL MICHIGAN 10/6 NORTHWESTERN 10/13 at Penn State 10/20 MICHIGAN 10/27 PURDUE 11/3 at Maryland 11/10 OHIO STATE 11/17 at Nebraska 11/24 RUTGERS Michigan State L.J. Scott

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