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Spartan Spring Football Primer

Michigan State has led the Big Ten in total defense and rushing defense the past two seasons. The Spartans return seven starters to their defense in 2013, including two-time All-Big Ten selection Max Bullough.

March 19, 2013

March 19-April 20 (Green-White Spring Game at 2:30 p.m. on BTN)

Spring Roster | Spring Depth Chart | Spring Prospectus

• Michigan State secured its third-straight winning campaign (7-6) in 2012 with a thrilling 13-point second-half comeback victory over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, defeating the Horned Frogs, 17-16. The Spartans have won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1989-90 seasons (MSU defeated Georgia, 33-30, in triple overtime in the 2012 Outback Bowl).

• MSU's 29 wins over the last three seasons ties for 13th most among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams and is second most in the Big Ten during that same period; in addition, it's the winningest three-year stretch in school history. The Spartans have posted three consecutive winning seasons, a first for the program since recording six in a row from 1985-90. MSU has won 29 of their last 40 games (.725), dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season.

• Michigan State has appeared in a school-record six consecutive bowl games (2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl). The six-year bowl streak is currently tied for the 18th longest in the NCAA FBS and second longest in the Big Ten.

• In the past four seasons, MSU has recorded 27 Big Ten victories, the most of any team in the conference. The Spartans produced back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2010-11 for the first time in program history, claimed a share of the Big Ten Championship in 2010, and won the inaugural Big Ten Legends Divisions title in 2011.



• Michigan State returns seven starters and 11 players with starting experience from the Big Ten's top-ranked defense in 2012. The Spartan defense ranked among the NCAA FBS Top 10 in eight categories: touchdowns allowed (second with 16), pass efficiency defense (third at 98.8), total defense (fourth at 274.4 ypg.), pass break-ups (tied for eighth at 4.8 pg.), rushing defense (eighth at 98.6 ypg.), third-down defense (eighth at .305), pass defense (ninth at 175.8 ypg.) and scoring defense (ninth at 16.3 ppg.). In addition, MSU also led the Big Ten in six defensive categories (touchdowns allowed, total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, rushing defense and third-down defense).

• The Spartans are one of just five NCAA FBS schools, along with Alabama, Florida State, Florida and LSU, to rank among the Top 10 nationally in total defense the past two seasons. Michigan State ranked fourth in total defense in 2012 (274.4 ypg.) and sixth in 2011 (277.4 ypg).

• MSU has also ranked in the NCAA FBS Top 10 the past two seasons in rushing defense (eighth in 2012 at 98.6 yppg.; ninth in 2011 at 100.5 ypg.) and scoring defense (ninth in 2012 at 16.3 ppg.; 10th in 2011 at 18.4 ppg). Michigan State, Alabama and Florida State are the only schools in the nation to rank among the NCAA FBS Top 10 in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense the past two seasons.

• In addition, MSU has ranked among the NCAA FBS Top 15 in pass defense in 2011 (11th at 176.9 ypg.) and 2012 (ninth at 175.8 ypg.). Michigan State and Alabama are the only two programs in the country to rank in the NCAA FBS Top 15 the past two seasons in total defense, rushing defense, passing defense and scoring defense.

• The Spartans return five players who received All-Big Ten recognition on defense in 2012, including first-team selections Max Bullough (LB) and Darqueze Dennard (CB). Senior linebacker Denicos Allen, senior strong safety Isaiah Lewis and junior defensive end Marcus Rush earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from the coaches and media.

• Michigan State returns nine starters and 12 players with starting experience on offense. Seven players have starting experience on the offensive line, including left tackle Dan France (24 starts), center Travis Jackson (15), right tackle Skyler Burkland (14), right tackle Fou Fonoti (13), center/guard Jack Allen (12), left guard Blake Treadwell (10) and left tackle Donavon Clark (2). Michigan State had six different starting combinations in 13 games on the offensive line last season. Jackson started five games at center before missing the remainder of the season following a knee injury/broken leg he suffered in week five against Ohio State; Fonoti started the first two games at right tackle but was ruled out for the season after he injured his foot in practice during the third week of the year.

• The offense must replace first-team All-Big Ten running back Le'Veon Bell, who led the Big Ten and ranked third in the NCAA FBS in rushing, averaging 137.9 yards per game. Bell was one of three juniors on MSU's 2012 roster to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft (defensive end William Gholston, tight end Dion Sims). Bell accounted for 92 percent of the team's rushing total in 2012, as he recorded 1,793 rushing yards, the second-highest single-season total in MSU history. Bell also had 12 of the team's 13 rushing touchdowns. Bell rushed for 3,346 yards and 33 TDs in 40 career games. He finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in rushing TDs (sixth with 33), rushing attempts (sixth with 671), rushing yards (seventh with 3,346) and all-purpose yards (ninth with 4,114). Bell had 12 career 100-yard rushing games, which is eighth most in MSU history. Bell also had 78 career receptions for 531 yards (6.8 avg.) and one score.

Junior wide receiver Keith Mumphery is one of nine starters on offense returning in 2013 for the Spartans. Mumphery led the team with 42 receptions last season.

• Although the Spartans lost Bell, MSU returns fifth-year senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell, who ranked among MSU's Top 10 single-season leaders in pass attempts (second with 446), pass completions (fourth with 234), passing yards (seventh with 2,606) and total offense (eighth with 2,500 yards) during his first year as a starter. Maxwell completed 53 percent of his passes (234-of-446) for 2,606 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions and had six 200-yard passing games in 2012. He ranked fourth in the Big Ten in passing (200.5 yards per game) and sixth in total offense (192.3 ypg.).

• After having to replace nearly its entire receiving corps in 2012, Michigan State will return four of its top six reception leaders in 2013. Keith Mumphery (515 yards) led the team with 42 receptions last season, followed by Bennie Fowler, who had 41 for a team-high 524 receiving yards. Tony Lippett (36 catches for 392 yards) and Aaron Burbridge (29 catches for 364 yards) also return for the Spartans. Last season, Michigan State was the only team in the Big Ten to have six players with at least 29 receptions.

• Based on cumulative opposition, Michigan State's 2012 schedule ranked as the Big Ten's toughest and nation's fourth-most difficult, according to NCAA figures. MSU's regular-season opponents had a combined record of 78-48 (.619) against other NCAA Bowl Subdivision teams. The Spartans went 4-4 (.500) in games played against bowl-bound teams.

• Michigan State lost five Big Ten games in 2012 by a combined total of 13 points, including one in double overtime (Iowa) and two within the last 10 seconds of regulation (Michigan, Nebraska). During one stretch, MSU had seven-straight games decided by four points or fewer, the longest such streak in school history and the longest by an FBS team since at least 1996.

• Michigan State has compiled a 44-17 record (.721) in games played against non-conference opponents since 1999. Mark Dantonio is 21-9 (.700) against non-conference opponents, including a 16-2 record (.889) in Spartan Stadium. Overall, the Spartans have won 27 of their last 37 non-league games (.722).

• Eleven Spartans received 2012 All-Big Ten recognition on first team, second team or honorable mention. First-team All-Big Ten selections included: RB Le'Veon Bell (coaches and media), DB Johnny Adams (coaches), LB Max Bullough (coaches), DB Darqueze Dennard (coaches) and P Mike Sadler (coaches). The five first-team selections were the most for Michigan State since 1999.

• Michigan State's 29 wins since 2010 are tied for 13th most among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

• Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 35-7 (.833) when leading in time of possession, including a 20-4 record (.833) since 2010. The Spartans led the Big Ten and ranked third in the NCAA FBS in time of possession (33:17 per game) in 2012.

• Under Dantonio, Michigan State is 40-10 (.800) when outrushing its opponent, including a 24-3 record (.889) since 2010.

• Under Dantonio, Michigan State is 17-3 (.850) when rushing for 200-plus yards in a game.

• Michigan State outscored its opponents 158-88 (+70) in the second half in 2012 (includes overtime).

• Over the last three seasons, Michigan State is 13-6 (.684) in games decided by 10 points or less, including a 4-5 record in 2012. The losses have come against Wisconsin in the 2011 Big Ten Championship Game (42-39) along with Ohio State (17-16), Iowa (19-16 in 2OT), Michigan (12-10), Nebraska (28-24) and Northwestern (23-20) in 2012.

• The 2012 senior class helped Michigan State to a record of 35-18 (.660) since 2009, including four-straight bowl appearances. The 35 wins are the second most by any senior class in the 116-year history of MSU football (record: 37 wins by 2011 senior class).

• Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio announced on March 4 the hiring of Jim Bollman and also the restructuring of his staff for the 2013 season. Bollman, who has 36 years of coaching experience, both at the collegiate and professional levels, including 11 years as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Ohio State (2001-11), will be the co-offensive coordinator, while also coaching the tight ends.

• Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, the architect of the Big Ten's top defense the past two seasons, was promoted to assistant head coach. Narduzzi enters his seventh year as Michigan State's defensive coordinator in 2013.

Dave Warner, who coached the Spartan quarterbacks for the last six seasons, was promoted to co-offensive coordinator, filling the position left by Dan Roushar, who was named running backs coach for the New Orleans Saints in February. In addition to his new role as co-offensive coordinator, Warner will now coach the running backs.

Brad Salem, who has been the running backs coach for the past three seasons and also serves as the program's recruiting coordinator, will now coach the quarterbacks.

Ron Burton, a 21-year coaching veteran who also played four seasons in the NFL, was named the defensive line coach on Feb. 8. Burton has spent the past 10 seasons as the defensive line coach at Air Force.

• For complete bios on all of the assistant coaches, please visit or pages 72-78 of the spring prospectus.

• Seventh-year head coach Mark Dantonio owns a 51-28 (.646) record at Michigan State. He already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in career wins (sixth) and winning percentage (sixth).

• Michigan State is 15-9 (.625) in Big Ten road games under Dantonio, including a 9-3 record (.750) since 2010.

• A trademark of his Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the regular season. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 14-5 record (.737) in November. His teams have won eight of the last 10 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; and 1-2 in 2012). In 2012, MSU lost back-to-back games (Nebraska and Northwestern) in November for the first time since 2006 when the Spartans dropped three in a row. In the four seasons (2003-06) prior to Dantonio's arrival, MSU went just 2-11 (.154) in November.

• Dantonio recorded 51 wins from 2007-12, the most by a Spartan head coach in his first six seasons ("Biggie" Munn ranks second, with 45 wins from 1947-1952).

• Dantonio is the first head coach in MSU history to win at least nine games three times in his first five seasons (9 wins in 2008; back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2010 and 2011).

• Dantonio has won at least nine games in a season three times (9 in 2008, 11 in 2010, 11 in 2011), tying him with the most seasons of at least nine wins of any coach in MSU history ("Biggie" Munn, 1951, 1952, 1953; Duffy Daugherty, 1955, 1965, 1966).

• Since 2007, Dantonio has helped produce 20 First-Team All-Big Ten selections, four consensus First-Team All-Americans (2008: RB Javon Ringer; 2009-10: LB Greg Jones; and 2011: DT Jerel Worthy) and 13 NFL Draft picks, including six in 2012. It marked the most NFL Draft selections for the Spartans since seven players were taken in 2000.

• From his first day on the job, Dantonio has pledged to support student-athletes as they pursue excellence, both in the classroom and on the playing field. In his first five seasons, nearly 80 percent (72 of 91) of his Michigan State players who have completed their eligibility have earned their undergraduate degrees. In addition, 70 Spartans have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, including four Academic All-Americans (2009: Blair White, first team; 2011-12: Mike Sadler, second team; 2012: Max Bullough, second team).

• Under Dantonio, Michigan State has produced a 31-11 record (.738) in home games. The Spartans have won 16 of their last 21 home games. At 2-5, MSU finished the 2012 season with a losing record at home for only the 10th time in Spartan Stadium history and the first time since 2006 (also went 2-5). With its 20-3 victory on Sept. 15, Notre Dame snapped MSU's 15-game home winning streak - the fifth-longest in school history.

• Dantonio has led Michigan State to Top 25 finishes in three of the last five seasons (2008: No. 24 both polls; 2010: No. 14 both polls; and 2011: No. 10 USA TODAY/No. 11 AP).

• Michigan State has led the Big Ten in total defense and rushing defense the past two seasons.

• The Spartan defense ranked among the NCAA FBS Top 10 in eight categories in 2012: touchdowns allowed (second with 16), pass efficiency defense (third at 98.8), total defense (fourth at 274.4 ypg.), pass break-ups (tied for eighth at 4.8 pg.), rushing defense (eighth at 98.6 ypg.), third-down defense (eighth at .305), pass defense (ninth at 175.8 ypg.) and scoring defense (ninth at 16.3 ppg.). In addition, MSU also led the Big Ten in six defensive categories (touchdowns allowed, total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, rushing defense and third-down defense).

Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season.

• In 2012, the Spartans surrendered 16 offensive touchdowns (six rushing, 10 passing) - the second-fewest allowed in the NCAA FBS. Only Notre Dame (15) permitted fewer TDs. MSU only allowed five offensive touchdowns in the second half in 2012 (Ohio State, Iowa, two by Nebraska, and Northwestern).

• MSU also ranked tied for third in the nation in rushing touchdowns allowed (6), along with Rutgers and Utah State. Notre Dame ranked first (4), followed by BYU (5).

• Michigan State allowed its opponents just 31 trips into the red zone - tied for the fourth fewest in the NCAA FBS. Of those 31 trips into the red zone, opponents scored just 10 touchdowns - the fewest TDs allowed in the nation.

• Michigan State led the Big Ten and ranked eighth in the NCAA FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 98.6 yards per game. The season rushing average (98.6 ypg.) marked one of the top defensive efforts in Spartan history (10th-fewest allowed). The last time MSU surrendered less than 100 yards rushing per game in a season came in 1999 (76.2 ypg.).

• The Spartans led the Big Ten and ranked No. 9 in the NCAA FBS in scoring defense, allowing just 16.3 points per game. The last time MSU permitted a lower scoring average came in 1989 (13.6 ppg.).

• Michigan State led the conference and ranked No. 4 in the NCAA FBS in total defense, permitting just 274.4 yards per game, which was the lowest season average (total defense) since 1987 (241.0 ypg.).

• Michigan State held its opponents scoreless in 23 of 52 quarters (44 percent). In addition, the Spartans forced their opponents to go three-and-out on 68 of 167 possessions (41 percent; 5.23 per game - fourth in the NCAA FBS ).

• Michigan State's defense allowed just 74 points in the second half/overtime last season (five touchdowns, 13 field goals). The Spartans shut out three opponents in the second half (Boise State, Eastern Michigan, Indiana).

• Michigan State held four opponents (Boise State, Central Michigan, Michigan, Minnesota) without an offensive touchdown in 2012.

• Michigan State allowed only 85 points in its six games played away from Spartan Stadium (14.2 points per game) in 2012: 7 by Central Michigan, 27 by Indiana, 12 by Michigan, 13 by Wisconsin, 10 by Minnesota and 16 by TCU. Interception returns for touchdowns (by CMU and Minnesota) accounted for 14 of those 85 points.

• The Spartan coaching staff was adept at making halftime adjustments, as MSU blanked 10 of its 13 opponents in the third quarter in 2012. MSU outscored its 13 opponents, 57-27 (+30 margin), in the third quarter.

• In the 17-13 season-opening win over No. 24 Boise State, the Spartans held the Broncos without an offensive touchdown for the first time since 1997. They also limited the nation's highest scoring offense since 2000 to 206 yards of total offense and 37 rushing yards, both lows in the Coach Chris Petersen era at BSU; the 13 points scored are the third fewest under Petersen.

• Since the beginning of 2011, Michigan State has held 15 opponents under 100 rushing yards (seven in 2011; eight in 2012), which ranks fifth most in the NCAA FBS (Alabama: 21; Florida State: 19; Stanford: 17; LSU: 16). In addition, MSU has held eight opponents under 50 yards rushing (three times in 2011; five in 2012) since 2011.

• Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Michigan State's defense has held 10 opponents to less than 10 points.

• Michigan State has forced at least one turnover in 62 of 79 games over the last six seasons (78 percent of the games played since 2007).

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