… the Spartans seem to have a healthy respect for Georgia, especially the Bulldogs’ defense.
“We’re excited because a lot of us have aspirations to play in the NFL and a lot of us have aspirations to move Michigan State into one of the top teams in the country,” said quarterback Kirk Cousins, a senior and an NFL prospect. “And to do that you’ve gotta be able to line up against NFL-type talent, you’ve gotta be able to play big-time teams like Georgia and prove that you belong.”
Michigan State’s defense is actually ranked fifth nationally, two spots behind Georgia. And there are plenty of other good defenses in the Big Ten. But Cousins said the Bulldogs would have “one of the best, if not the best defense in the Big Ten.”
Cousins got a few snaps in the 2009 Capital One Bowl, but he granted that this Georgia defense is on a different level than the one he faced back then.
“When you look at their team they’re big, they’re fast, they’re everything you look for in a defense,” Cousins said. “Obviously the headliner is No. 29 with the way he’s played on the edge all year. What’s impressive about him is he wasn’t really a big name starting the season. So when you don’t even have the hype to start and you finish with all the accolades and the attention he’s received, it shows how good of a player he really is. He’s as good a player as we’ve played all year, and he’ll be a whale to contain.”
Aaron Murray agrees.
“There’s no conference like it when it comes to speed,” Murray said of the SEC. “(Michigan State) is one of the best defenses in the country, so I’m excited to see what they have to offer. But I think definitely playing in the SEC helps you when it comes to adjusting to the speed of the game.”
It doesn’t hurt, either, that the Bulldogs’ defense also ranks among the country’s best, Murray said.
“I think the hardest defense we face is every day in practice,” Murray said. “Our guys are unbelievable. (Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham) brings some blitzes I don’t even think are possible with 11 guys on the field. I don’t know how he does it. But our guys are able to think of anything just by facing our guys every day in practice.”