Michigan States new-look cornerback group coming together
Two weeks ago, Michigan State cornerbacks room marked a historic milestone: the room reached 5,000 people in attendance.
Its entire starting rotation has been restructured since last season.
When Kalon Gervin, a returning starter, entered the transfer portal on Sept. 27, each Spartans cornerback who visits the field regularly didnt make the team last year.
Travares Tillman, the groups position coach, took note of the moment. He added he has no less faith in his current group than if a room full of returners.
Tillman said the game is unique," but he believes a lot of those players can be in the fray and be ok.
As a team, Michigan State has been characterized as one thats undergone reorganization quickly thanks to significant transfers from the transfer portal, as itve improved from 2-5 last year to 6-0 this season.
Nowhere has that change been more apparent than in the cornerbacks room, where Michigan State added three transferees from Power 5 schools, as well as a true freshman who has seen significant playing time.
Those four are the teams primary cornerback options heading into a Saturday game against Indiana. Ronald Williams (Alabama) and Chester Kimbrough (Florida), the teams two primary cornerbacks this year, have been the teams two leading scorers. Charles Brantley has had a little time off-and-on as he enters his first year as an NFL player.
Michigan State added another player to its rotation at the position a week after Gervin left.
Marqui Lowery, a cornerback transfer from Louisville, played for the first time against Rutgers after missing the previous five weeks due to injury. He entered the game in the second quarter and played a significant portion of the match.
Marqui is doing a great job, hes able to come out and work every day in practice, and if im honest, Id say... Tillman continued. He was a player that I was excited to finally see get on the field, says Mr. Anderson.
The overall numbers of that group may not be as impressive as they appear. The Spartans are the 10th most passing yards allowed in the Big Ten, at 301.7 yards per game (a game against Western Kentuckys Air Raid offense, which had 64 pass attempts, didnt help that average).
Players and coaches want those numbers to be lower. But theyll also point to a second stat: points. Teams have moved down the field on the Spartans passing defense, but theyre only scoring 78 percent of the time they get to the red zone, giving Michigan State the fifth-best mark in the Big Ten.
Teams may be able to move the ball, but they havent finished drives all that often.
Sometimes the offense gets you, and there may be a breakdown here or there, Tillman said. As long as we win, man Im happy, he added.
The cornerbacks arent the only ones joining their teams this year that are new to their jobs. Tillman is in his second year in the program, but his first as the teams cornerbacks coach. Mike Tressel left the Cincinnati office in January to join him in the position.
Tillman said his own transition has been made easier by having veteran coach Harlon Barnett in charge of the safeties, who has helped a new coach shape swanky teams.
Its been a great year, Tillman said. We meet every day, we exchange ideas, and we make observations to the players, he may see something that the corners are doing, but I may also see what the safeties are putting out. Its been a wonderful marriage, and Ive learned incredibly much from coach Barnett, he stated.
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