Michigan State needs to improve defense in 2022

April 16, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan State University Spartans running back Elijah Collins (24) runs around the corner and into the safety of Michigan State University Spartans Kobe Myers ( 31), at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young – USA TODAY Sports

Just as the NFL season is fast approaching, we are approaching the day when college football teams will arrive on campus and begin their own preseason work. As a self-proclaimed NFL Draft nerd, I’m almost as excited for the college football season as I am for the NFL season. For that reason, I’m preparing guides for many notable college football programs ahead of the 2022 season. Whether you’re a seasoned college football viewer or new to it, there’s something for everyone.

We have already reviewed many of the main competitors of the AAC, and we are now done with the ACC. Then, yesterday, we kicked off the Big 10 conference with a look at the Michigan Wolverines. Today we stay in Michigan State and take a look at the Michigan State Spartans.


2021 has gone about as well as it could have gone for the Michigan State Spartans. Their 11-2 record propelled them to 9th in the playoff standings, their highest ranking since 2015. They may have suffered a blow from Ohio State with a 56-7 loss, but victory over Pitt in the Peach Bowl made 2021 a resounding success. With another year out of Payton Thorne, the Spartans will be looking to continue their run through 2022.

2022 NFL Draft Prospects

Notable transfers in

  • RB Jalen Berger (Wisconsin)
  • RB Jarek Broussard (Colorado)
  • TE Daniel Barker (Illinois)
  • CB Ameer Speed ​​(Georgia)
  • LB Aaron Brule (Mississippi State)
  • LB Jacoby Windmon (UNLV)
  • EDGE Khris Bogle (Florida)

Notable outward transfers

  • IOL James Ohonba (Louisiana)
  • WR Ricky White (UNLV)
  • Michael Dowell (Miami) [OH])

Calendar 2022

  • 9/2 vs. West Michigan
  • 9/10 against Akron
  • 9/17 in Washington
  • 9/24 vs Minnesota
  • 10/1 @ Maryland
  • 10/8 vs. Ohio State
  • 10/15 against Wisconsin
  • 10/29 @Michigan
  • 11/5 @ Illinois
  • 11/12 vs. Rutgers
  • 11/19 vs. Indiana
  • 11/26 @ Pennsylvania State

The keys to 2022

Replace Kenneth Walker

The Spartans got a big year from their QB position last season, but overall the majority of their offensive success was down the legs of Kenneth Walker III. He had a stellar season, rushing for 1,636 yards at a clip of 6.2 yards per carry as well as 18 touchdowns.

Walker is now a Seahawk, and Thorne will likely have to bear even more of a load for the Spartans to repeat their success in 2022. He’s keeping receiver Jayden Reed for another year, but the Spartans need to get some production from their new RBs. They bring in a pair of talented running backs through the transfer portal. Jalen Berger had a few good times at Wisconsin before entering the transfer gate last October, and Jarek Broussard had over 1,500 yards for Colorado in his first two seasons.

Don’t rank last in passing yards allowed

It’s quite simple. If Michigan State doesn’t want to be embarrassed by CJ Stroud and Ohio State again this year, their secondary must be much tighter. Last year, Stroud had 432 passing yards and six touchdowns through the air on the Spartan defense.

The program hopes the Georgian transfer from Ameer Speed ​​will help to do so. The cornerback is long and, as the name suggests, he’s fast enough to latch onto most receivers. The biggest concern is the safety position. While senior Xavier Hutchinson was pretty consistent in 2021, they will need junior Angelo Grose to step up this year.

Finally, the Spartans need a much more consistent passing rush than they had in 2021. Look for Florida transfer Khris Bogle to be a big part of their defensive scheme in the top seven.

My “purple reader to watch”

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Minnesota Vikings went from one Spartan QB to another? Kirk Cousins ​​was of course a Michigan State Spartan from 2008-2011, passing for 9,131 yards and 66 touchdowns during his career.

Payton Thorne was just as productive in his first year as a starter, passing for 3,232 yards and 27 touchdowns. However, Thorne adds an extra element of mobility that is almost crucial for a QB to be successful in the NFL. He rushed for 181 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. He also had a knack for coming up with big plays in the clutch like this one against Penn State:

The need for the Vikings quarterback is not yet urgent, but especially if Kellen Mond does not earn the trust of his new coaching staff this pre-season, it may be time to start looking for the eventual replacement. of Cousins ​​in 2023. Thorne might be a guy to keep an eye on if he has another successful campaign.

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