Michigan State Linebackers Say Intensity is the Key to Their Success

Riley Bullough warms up prior to the 2015 B1G Championship game.
Riley Bullough warms up prior to the 2015 B1G Championship game.

After losing their veteran quarterback to the NFL this spring, the Michigan State Spartans will be relying on their defense to help them win the Big Ten championship this year. The heart of the team’s defense this year is their linebackers, who are the most experienced players on the team. Despite losing a lot of talent to the NFL, the Spartans still have favorable college football odds of making the playoffs this season.

The teams that play Michigan State this year will have their hands full with the team’s defense, especially the linebackers, who are known as “The Bomb Squad.” Michigan State has multiple linebackers with a lot of experience and multiple looking to be a part of the rotation, making them one of the deepest teams at the position.

However, Michigan State’s linebackers are a special kind of crazy according to their coaches and teammates. The corps of players all have long hair, tattoos, and eye black smeared all over their faces and have a very intimidating presence. The players also like to yell a lot of crazy stuff during games so don’t be surprised to see a few quarterbacks with happy feet when the Spartans play this season.

The team of linebackers are also fast and strong, and they play with a reckless enthusiasm that they hope will energize their teammates during games and intimidate their opponents in the process.

Junior linebacker Chris Frey told reporters that the group of players like to act crazy and scream reckless stuff while on the field for the fun of it, and to get their teammates going. That is why Spartan Nation gave him the nickname early in his career, "Spartan Psycho!"

The group takes the personality of its leader, senior middle linebacker Riley Bullough, who is the loudest and most intense player on the field during practice and on game day. The team named Bullough a captain last week, and he told reporters that his aim is to make the game fun for his teammates, and intimidating the opponent is a fun benefit of all the screaming.

Bullough said he and his teammates play better when they’re screaming their heads off, and he believes their intensity gets into the heads of the opponents. 

Next to Bullough, Frey is the team’s most intense player and the two always bring the same level of intensity to practices and games. The rest of the Spartans linebackers, even if they naturally aren’t as loud as Frey and Bullough, have to fall in line.

Mike Tressel, the team’s defensive coordinator, said the rest of the team really doesn’t have a choice but to follow the example set by Bullough when they are at practice and during games. Tressel said it’s something that comes with the territory, and players have to be intense to play linebacker for the Spartans.

While linebackers screaming their heads off at opposing quarterbacks isn’t something new, the Michigan State linebackers believe what they are doing works because they do it more than most teams and more effectively.

Tressel added that while it might look like the linebackers are playing with reckless abandon, they are actually still playing within the system and never lose sight of their objectives, which is something that not too many people can do.