EAST LANSING - The last time Northwestern came to East Lansing, C.J. Bacher threw for a career-high 520 yards and five touchdowns. But with Bacher gone, and the Spartan defense putting up big numbers over the last two weeks, Michigan State feels confident they can shut down the Wildcats' spread offense.
In the last two weeks - against Michigan and Illinois - Michigan State's defense has outperformed their first four weeks combined.
Heading into the UM game, the defense had recorded a total of eight sacks. In the last two weeks they've had 10, including six at Illinois - the second highest single-game sack total under Mark Dantonio. The Spartans' 18 total sacks this season is tied for second in the Big Ten.
Just as improved as of late has been the number of tackles for loss. Through the Wisconsin game, MSU's defense had 17 TFL for 71 yards. In just the last two weeks they have eclipsed that mark, racking up 18 tackles for a loss of 84 yards.
A big part of that, of course, has been the play of captain Greg Jones, who leads the team, the Big Ten, and is third in the NCAA in tackles with 11.8 per game. He's recorded double-figure tackles four times this season and had 11 stops - including a six-yard sack - against Illinois.
To see what Linebackers and Special Teams coach Mike Tressel had to say Thursday about Jones and the rest of the Spartan LB unit in their preparation for Northwestern, click HERE
To see what Tight Ends and Tackles coach Mark Staten had to say Thursday about MSU's slew of tight ends - and how their mid season development is showing up on the field and in the film room - click HERE