October 15, 2010

Defending the Illinois option

EAST LANSING - The Michigan State defense has slowed down two of the nation's most powerful ground attacks in back-to-back weeks.

The Spartans held the No. 11 rushing offense of Wisconsin to a season low in the Big Ten opener for both teams before bottling up the No. 6 ranked rushing offense of Michigan one week later.

Both Wisconsin and Michigan were held to 162 by the Spartans. That number is well below the 240.83 yards per game averaged by the power Wisconsin offense and the 297.3 yards per game averaged by the spread running attack of the Wolverines.

Michigan State will face another Top 20 rushing offense this weekend in Illinois. But this week the Spartans are preparing for an option attack. To defend the option, the Spartans must be assignment sound at all 11 positions.

"You've got to do your job," said defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. "There is going to be a dive, there is going to be the quarterback, and there is going to be a pitch. Every time there are two backs in the backfield in a shotgun set, it is going to be option football. We've got to get them lined up and everybody has to do their job."

The Fighting Illini are ranked No. 19 in rushing offense with an average of 217.6 yards on the ground per game. Illinois is one of five Big Ten teams including Michigan State that are averaging more than 200 yards rushing per game at the midway point of the 2010 season.

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