Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has a reputation for being a gritty and determined coach. His Michigan State teams have tended to set the tone with some of the best defense in the Big Ten, with defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi taking charge of the defense. This year, of course, Narduzzi will no longer be coaching the defense. He is the new head coach at Pittsburgh, leaving Dantonio to entrust the defensive coordinator duties to coach Harlon Barnett and linebackers/special teams coach Mike Tressel. Neither coach has previous experience as a defensive coordinator, which may be why Dantonio has suggested he will be a bit more involved with the defense this coming season.
Dantonio has always had a say in how the defense has been run, even with as much as he could trust Narduzzi. However, with two new defensive coordinators stepping into the role it would be beneficial to have Dantonio be a little more involved with running things. Aside from smoothing the transition, having Dantonio have more influence should help avoid any conflicts between the two coordinators.
“He’s always been involved,” Barnett said, per MLive.com. “He has been involved three years at Cincinnati, and eight (seasons) at Michigan State. We welcome him because he has expertise, he’s a national championship defensive coordinator.”
Michigan State’s defense should follow the same basic formula it has in recent years, but 2014 games against teams like Oregon and Ohio State have led the coaches to recognize some adjustments will need to be made if the Spartans are going to challenge for the Big Ten and perhaps even more next season.