Notre Dame Opponent Preview: Michigan State Spartans Defense


September 24, 2011; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans linebacker William Gholston (2) looks over the Central Michigan Chippewas offense during the 2nd half at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State won 45-7. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan State

September 15, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. EST

Last Meeting: Notre Dame 31- Michigan State 13

William Gholston, DE, Junior-Gholston is by far Michigan State’s impact player on defense. He stands a towering 6’7’’ 278 pounds and is a force to be reckoned with. He is a third year player entering his second season as a starting defensive end. He was listed on almost every preseason watch list for the, Bednarik, Hendricks, Lombardi, Walter Camp awards, and the Nagurski Trophy. Last year he recorded 36 solo tackles, 34 assisted combining for 70 tackles at defensive end leading him to a Second-team All-Big Ten honor. Gholston had the 5th most tackles on the Spartans team last year, 2nd in sacks with 5, and 2nd in tackles for loss with 16. He is the focal point for all offensive lines that face him. His imposing size, strength, and quickness pose a threat to every team he plays. The Notre Dame offensive line needs to play to their ability or it will be a long day for the Fighting Irish. Offensively Notre Dame can rollout away from Gholston or check to max protection (tight end stays to block). If not these Zach Martin needs to show that he is an NFL guy this Saturday in East Lansing.

Denicos Allen, LB, Junior-Allen is the spark plug as to how well the Michigan State defense plays every Saturday. He is small for his position at 5’11’’ 225 pounds, but he plays like he is much bigger. This is his second year starting Sam linebacker for the Spartans. He led the team with tackles for loss 18.5, led the team in sacks with 11, and was second in tackles with 83. This guy fly’s to the football every play with great pursuit and is a sure tackler. When he isn’t sent on a blitz he is a good pass coverage linebacker. The thing that worries me the most about Allen is his ability to make plays that result in a loss for the offense. Notre Dame will have to always know where Allen is, since he is sent on blitzes quite often. What would be a good mismatch? The All-American tight end Eifert against the undersized Allen.

Johnny Adams, CB, Senior-Adams is by far the most experienced player on this Michigan State defense. He has a below average size for his position 5’11’’ 177 pounds. He is the veteran leader of this defense. Adams led defensive backs in tackles for loss with 4 and accumulated 51 total tackles last year. This is Michigan State’s best cover corner and the one with the most experience. We have seen Eifert being split out at flanker and that could be a bad matchup for Michigan State.

The Michigan State defense returns 9 of 11 starters from last year, losing starting safety in Trenton Robinson and the All-American defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. This is a very experienced group that contains players that know what this rivalry means. The loss of Worthy should open up the middle a little bit more than it was last year. The main ingredients to succeed is slow down Gholston, always find Allen especially on blitzing situations, and use our strength on offense, which is Tyler Eifert who can really do some damage to undersized Allen and Adams.