Tuesday, September 8, 2009

MSU linebacker Adam Decker gets a rush on third downs

Michigan State might have the edge to make more third-down stops this season.

Against Montana State, the Spartans unveiled a new third-down package showcasing a different role for senior linebacker Adam Decker.

Instead of standing, Decker set up in a three-point stance on the line of scrimmage to enhance a unit that intends to bring more pressure.

"Maybe that will be my little specialty," Decker said of being an edge rusher. "It's a chance I look forward to."

Decker, a Rochester Hills native, had to adapt to several changes in the offseason because of what appears to be modifications to an increasingly deep roster.

After eight starts at middle linebacker in 2008, the product of Birmingham Brother Rice now is a backup to Greg Jones.

Jones' move back to the middle and the consistency of Eric Gordon and Brandon Denson outside are reasons coaches experimented with Decker in a new stance during preseason practice. Decker apparently generated enough production to earn the task.

"He can give us speed off the edge in a spot that maybe we were deficient," defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said.

MSU's lack of getting to the quarterback on blitzes was an issue last season: Its 26 sacks were the lowest total since back-to-back 16-sack seasons in 2005-06.

Decker couldn't help but laugh after a preseason practice when asked about how his improved quickness could help the Spartans.

Throughout Decker's career, he's received fewer snaps against spread offenses.
Asked if he now has 4.3-speed, Decker joked: "30-yard dash."

It isn't difficult for Decker to remain humble, despite being immortalized in Spartan lore for his fourth-and-inches stop of Iowa's Shonn Greene last season.

The highlight was used prevalently this summer in Lansing-area TV advertisements for MSU's season-ticket packages.

Decker likes to remind everyone Iowa didn't disappear from the schedule.

"We gotta beat them again," Decker said. "That play has to be put to rest."