MICHIGAN STATE 2011 Season Preview 2011 will show how Michigan State can re-tool and reload after a season of surpassed expectations. The Spartans will have a difficult time replacing deep threat receiver Mark Dell, tight end Charlie Gantt and three offensive linemen. Throw in arguably the most productive linebacker in Spartan history in Greg Jones, tackling machine Eric Gordon and shutdown secondary players Chris L. Rucker and Marcus Hyde, and that's quite a list of Spartans that you won't see in East Lansing for 2011. That has many in Spartan country concerned as to how this team can once again exceed expectations and finally make it into the Rose Bowl or the BCS. But, next season's offense will not be lacking in speed and talent at the skill positions in East Lansing. The rushing attack continues to be the most exciting aspect going into the 2011 season, with the terrifying trio of Edwin Baker, Le'Veon Bell and Larry Caper. Mr. Efficiency Kirk Cousins returns for his senior season and will have to once again answer to his critics that he can be counted on to win the big time battles. His TD to INT ratio hovered around the same mark that it did in 2009, with 20 TD's to 10 INT's, and that will have to improve going into 2011. Baker is undoubtedly going to be the No. 1 back going into 2011, but having power backs Bell and Caper behind him will only ease the load that's thrusted upon the junior's shoulders. The three backs last season combined for nearly 2,000 yards, and if you throw in Keshawn Martin's yardage it exceeds it easily. While most teams will immediately key in on the run, those are the times Michigan State can beat you with the pass. And there's plenty of weapons that Kirk Cousins can choose from through the air in 2011. One of which will be the speedy play maker Keshawn Martin, who can ignite a fire quickly through the air. TD receptions leader B.J. Cunningham is back for his final year in East Lansing. Throw in experienced former QB Keith Nichol and a bevy of young talent, and Cousins will have no problems tossing the rock to his skill position players. The one thing that continues to haunt this unit at times is drops. Cunningham is getting better, but between him and Mark Dell there were too many times last season that saw either big plays negated by drops or important passes over the middle land on the turf because of ill-concentration or who the heck knows. Seniors don't drop big passes in big games, so you can guarantee that's an area being addressed in the offseason. The biggest worry on the offensive side of the ball for MSU, lies with the Offensive line. All Big-Ten tackle D.J. Young and J'Michael Deane along with starting center John Stipek have all graduated and moved on, and they leave three holes that desperately need to be filled by capable big uglies. The eye-opening points fest at the Capital One Bowl definitely leaves a negative feeling about the defense going into 2011, but last season the defense had a lot to be pleased with. Hovering right around the middle of the conference in total defense, fourth in scoring defense, and again being in the middle of the road in passing and rushing defense makes 2010 doesn't seem so bad after all. But now the Spartans must replace two of the most productive linebackers in MSU history, and that leaves gaping holes to fill. The line begins with rising star Jerel Worthy, who is already looking towards the NFL draft once he completes his junior season. Worthy is a freak of an athlete for being 6'3", 305, and he only appears to be getting better and bigger. Throw alongside him nose tackle Anthony White, and that's a middle no one wants to run into. The ends are the area that need to be addressed the most. The Spartans will absolutely need junior Tyler Hoover to improve on his pass rush from last season. Just three sacks and 36 tackles will have to get much better as a starter for 2011.The youngster is still scratching the surface on his pass rushing and run stopping abilities, but if he can blast out of the gates quickly, there's no reason to believe he can start all 12 regular season games this year. The obvious area of concern is at linebacker, without Jones and Gordon. One starter that does return is strong side LB Chris Norman. The junior had a solid 2010 season alongside the aforementioned seniors and will now be looked to as the leader in the central defense. In the secondary, you will see immediately how good corner Johnny Adams is going to be next year. While CLR was the guy who got most of the pub, Adams made a name for himself by making 50 tackles and 3 INT's a year ago. Don't be fooled by his 5'11", 170-lb. frame, Adams will muscle you up at the line of scrimmage. It's a defense that has a lot of worries but also star talent in the middle of the D-Line and in the secondary. If the defensive minded new head coach can figure out the linebacker situation, Michigan State may just have a dependable unit on the field to get stops. 2011 Season Prediction: 10-2 finish with a shot to play in the Inaugural Big Ten Championship game for a Rose Bowl berth.