Michigan State Secondary: Living up to Spartan Traditions
The Michigan State secondary won't change their identity anytime soon despite losing key contributors from last season.
But who will step up and replace Josiah Scott, David Dowell, and Josh Butler?
According to safeties coach, Mike Tressel finding players who are 'hungry' and motivated to take on more responsibility shouldn't be an issue.
"That's one of the great things about having some new coaches is if you were 'next in line' there's nothing guaranteed," Tressel told reporters Wednesday afternoon. "The new coaches rolling in; they don't necessarily see you as 'next in line.' They don't see a line; they see a group of guys, and they have to figure out who's best."
Xavier Henderson, Michael Dowell, and Tre Person have had good fall camps, bringing excitement to the defense's back end.
However, those aren't the only players Tressel sees carving out roles for themselves.
"Darius Snow and Emmanuel Flowers are some other guys you'll see contribute," Tressel said.
It's a group of players hoping to be "the next chapter" in a book filled with historic Michigan State defenses.
"I think they believe in the identity that we've had; the No Fly (Zone), the Spartan Dawgs. I think the tradition is what we're trying to live up to," said Tressel.
The aspirations are high and might become a reality if cornerbacks coach Harlon Barnett has anything to say about it.
He coached the MSU defensive backs for years, producing seven future NFL Draft picks, including Darqueze Dennard and Trae Waynes, two first-rounders.
Even in his absence, Barnett sees shades of the same "No Fly Zone" on the current Michigan State roster.
"It's exactly what I see. There's some talent there," said Barnett. "It's not like there's no talent."
Yet, it's still a work in progress, and living up to the "No Fly Zone" will be difficult.
The last time Michigan State cracked the top-30 for passing yards allowed per game was 2013, which ended an incredible run by Mark Dantonio led defenses.
In 2019, they finished 37th in passing yards allowed (207.8) and 53rd for team passing efficiency defense (129.82).
Barnett has seen a lot of different Michigan State defenses over the years, and when asked who he would compare the current secondary to in terms of talent and experience, he responded with:
"It might be the early stages of that group that really took us -- you talk about the 2009-2011 classes, Denicos Allen, Darqueze Dennard, and Trae Waynes. That's nine, ten, and eleven (classes). It would be that group of guys at their early stages, maybe at the '09 stage ... and then you start adding pieces to it and taking it from there," said Barnett.
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