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Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio
On July 30, I wrote that Michigan State will have the best FBS defense in 2012. As a man of my word, I will once again prove this to you. With that said, congratulations if you picked the Spartans over Saban.
Head coach Mark Dantonio is an underrated defensive coach. Dantonio learned from the best in Nick Saban at Michigan State. When Saban was the Spartans' head coach, Dantonio mentored the defensive backs.
Experience is the biggest reason why I believe Michigan State will have the better defense than Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide in 2012. The Spartans return eight starters from their outstanding 2011 defense, whereas Alabama returns five from its historic 2011 unit.
The number of Crimson Tide defenders going high in the 2012 NFL draft requires Saban’s 2012 group to establish a new identity and to rebuild chemistry. Michigan State, conversely, does not have this problem.
In short, I think Alabama’s net loss on defense will be greater than its net gain.
The Spartans also have stable coaching that should not be overlooked. All of Dantonio’s defensive assistants followed him to East Lansing from Cincinnati prior to the 2007 season.
As of Aug. 6, the 2012 defense will feature five of the top-370 draft-eligible prospects, according to CBSSports.com.
According to NFLDraftScout.com, nine members of Michigan State’s defensive roster are ranked in the top 20 nationally in their classes at their respective positions. Four are ranked in the top eight.
Eight Spartans defenders were selected to Phil Steele’s 2012 Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Three were named to the First Team.
Michigan State also has four players on the 2012 Bednarik Award watch list.
In 2011, the Spartans had their best defensive performance under Dantonio. They finished No. 10 nationally in scoring defense.
Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi passed up an opportunity to become the next defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. The perks of high salaries and SEC competition were not enough for Narduzzi in the end. This suggests Narduzzi feels the hype surrounding his defense in 2012 is well-deserved, and he wants to be a part of it.
Michigan State holds the No. 13 spot in the 2012 USA Today preseason poll.