OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE
"You hear it all the time, but Mark Dantonio is a heck of a coach. As usual, he's got a very physical team. They take care of the football and aren't greedy. They're not worried about tempo and all the flash. They just kind of beat you into submission and get you to surrender as fast as they can. They do a great job of personnel groupings and mixing their plays. They use their personnel about as well as anybody I've ever seen.
That will help take some of the pressure off the new quarterback. [Senior] Tyler O'Connor started the Spartans' upset of Ohio State on the road last season. He's a solid passer who can run some, but no matter who starts, I'm sure Dantonio will play to his team's strengths, which means running the ball. They've got three very capable backs in [sophomore] LJ Scott, [junior] Gerald Holmes and [sophomore] Madre London, but I imagine the bruising [6-foot, 238-pound] Scott will be an even bigger force this season. With their experience on the interior offensive line, it'll be tough slowing down their ground attack.
On defense their first priority remains stopping the run. Malik McDowell [junior] is a monster who'll be playing on Sundays next season. [Senior] linebacker Riley Bullough is a tackling machine, and having back [linebacker] Ed Davis will help. The secondary could be the best the Spartans have had since 2013."
Maximum number of combined starts the Spartans' offensive tackles will have going into the season after former right tackle Kodi Kieler moved to center for his senior year.
Receptions as a junior last season by R.J. Shelton, the only returning wideout with more than two catches in '15.
Games missed last year by corner Vayante Copeland, who's back for his junior season after a vertebrae injury.
Years in school for senior OLB Ed Davis, who was sidelined for all of '15 with a torn ACL; he was third on the team in tackles for loss (12) and sacks (seven) two years ago.
Weight of 6'6" tackle Malik McDowell, the lone returning starter on a line that held opponents to 3.0 yards per carry or fewer six times in '15.
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5 YEAR TREND
13--1 (BIG TEN CHAMPS)
12--2 (BIG TEN CHAMPS)
Wide receivers DONNIE CORLEY and CAM CHAMBERS were four-star recruits. Both have size—Corley is 6'3" and 185 pounds, Chambers 6'3" and 207—and both enrolled last January to get a jump on learning the offense. If even one of them can develop into a downfield threat in the early going, it will provide a vital outlet in preventing opponents from ganging up on the run.
AT NOTRE DAME [KEY MATCHUP]
MICHIGAN [BIGGEST GAME]
OHIO STATE [KEY MATCHUP]
AT PENN STATE