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Rutgers’ Norries Wilson Says Michigan State Defense Will Be ‘A Huge Test’

At 8 p.m. on Oct. 10 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J., the Michigan State Spartans come to town to square off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

With them, the Spartans (4-0) will bring a big, physical defense that ranks 46th in the country with 20.8 points allowed per game.

Norries Wilson (left), says Michigan State defense is physical / Photo: Catalina Fragoso, Double G Sports

Norries Wilson (left), says Michigan State defense is physical / Photo: Catalina Fragoso, Double G Sports


During the Big Ten Coaches Teleconference on Tuesday, DoubleGSports asked Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) interim head coach Norries Wilson what he’s seen after getting an early look at Michigan State on film.

“I think they play good team defense. I think their front seven is really good,” Wilson said. “They’ve got defensive ends and defensive tackles that can hold the point at the line of scrimmage, and their linebackers run pretty well. I know they have an injury there earlier, but I think their front seven is good and their back half, they play well. They’re not scared to tackle. They’re a physical team on defense and it’s going to be a huge test for us.”

Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun / (Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports)

Fifth-year senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun was named Big Ten Co-Defensive player of the week for his production this past week against Central Michigan. Widely considered a high NFL Draft pick in the upcoming draft, Calhoun registered six tackles, including three for loss, and 2.5 sacks. The Middletown Township, N.J. native is two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and two-time second-team All-American who led the 2014 Spartans in tackles for loss (12.5 for 109 yards) and sacks (8 for 91).

On the linebacker level, redshirt junior Riley Bullough leads the squad, and is tied for first in the conference with 46 total tackles and is second on the team in sacks (three) and tackles for loss (3.5). As a team, Michigan State is third in the Big Ten with 15 sacks on the season.

The defensive backs have been ball hawks. Graduate safety RJ Williamson, along with sophomore safety Montae Nicholson, have two interceptions apiece, with the defense as a whole picking off five opposing quarterback passes.

Rutgers has struggled taking care of the ball, sitting 13th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten with a minus-seven turnover margin. On the other end of spectrum, the Spartans lead in that category at plus-six.

Unlike Rutgers, they also don’t beat themselves with penalties as they only have committed 18 thus far, while Rutgers is second to last in the Big Ten with 38 penalties.

The coaches have continued to press the players on trying to correct them and lower the high number of infractions.

“We came out stressing the things that we’ve been deficient on – unforced penalties, false starts, lining up offsides and turnovers and working on fundamentals and tackling and blocking and had some competitive drills against each other offense and defense, calling plays and letting the two first teams to continue to work. … And we did some things on our upcoming opponent,” Wilson said.

If Rutgers wants to reverse the fate of last year’s 45-3 crushing defeat in East Lansing, MI, the Scarlet Knights must not beat themselves with penalties and turnovers, and find a way to neutralize Calhoun and Bullough.

To hear Wilson’s full coaches call, along with the other head coaches in the Big Ten, click the link below.

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