This week’s game: No. 16 Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 SEC) at No. 17 MSU (7-1, 3-1), Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe)
In two days MSU will face the league’s best offense and its most dynamic quarterback, Johnny Manziel. Defending him is something I’m writing about in detail for Friday’s paper, but in today’s opinion offering I look at MSU’s defense and the issues that have surfaced over the course of this season.
And when you consider the effort to slow down A&M, the first area you point to is the run defense. Manziel leads the league in rushing, and the Aggies as a whole lead the SEC in that category. State has had trouble with the run at times, most notably against Troy (223 yards) and Tennessee (213 yards). Besides Manziel, Texas A&M can turn to Ben Malena and Christine Michael in the backfield.
When MSU has trouble against the run, the defensive line has struggled shedding blocks and other defenders tackled poorly. As I wrote in the column, if the defensive issues remain these last four games, it’ll spell trouble. And it’ll tell us that this defense still has a long way to go.
• Some more links for you: Saw this story last night on Dan Mullen and his mother, Barbara Mullen. … ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit believes A&M will give Alabama a bigger test than will LSU. … Manziel is getting some Heisman love. … Kevin Sumlin is impressed with MSU’s secondary.