Out Of The Shadows: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
By Matt LaPan
It may surprise you to know that Michigan State is ranked No. 1 in total defense in the NCAA. The Spartans are only allowing 228.3 yards per game and only 170.3 yards per game through the air.
This comes as a surprise because the Spartans as a team are mentioned far less than Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern or even Wisconsin despite their 5-1 record (their only loss coming to Notre Dame). On this defense there are many stars in the making, with possibly none better than senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
Dennard is not only one of the best defenders on Michigan State, but he is in the discussion for one of the best defensive players in the Big Ten. Dennard might not be the biggest cornerback, but has good size at 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, and he is extremely physical. He is proficient at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage but does not overextend himself and get out of position. At times, Dennard has been overly physical and had key pass interference calls made against him, but those calls do not slow down his motor or impact his game.
Dennard is not just a physical player at the line of scrimmage however. He is very aggressive in coverage and is willing to take risks to attempt to make plays. Currently, Dennard is one of the top players in the country at defending passes, with two interceptions and seven passes defended in five games. With these breakups and interceptions, Dennard shows very good ball skills and great anticipation.
As the Big Ten season continues, make sure to keep an eye on Michigan State and Dennard. Otherwise, you will be missing out on great corner play.