Michigan State football's unheralded defensive line performing at high level

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Here are the Michigan State football players who helped or hurt their stock in the Spartans’ 23-20 overtime home win over Nebraska on Saturday night.

Three up

DE Jacub Panasiuk: With Drew Beesley suffering a right foot injury, Panasiuk elevated his pass rush as MSU’s defense spent most of the second half on the field. According to Pro Football Focus College, the senior registered 14 pressures on Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez and earned its defensive player of the week honors. He finished with seven tackles and two sacks, forcing a fumble in the fourth quarter.

CHRIS SOLARI: How Mel Tucker's plan to remake Michigan State coalesced perfectly vs. Nebraska

NEXT UP: Michigan State faces an aerial test unlike any it has faced this year in WKU

Michigan State's Jacub Panasiuk celebrates his tackle against Nebraska during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's Jacub Panasiuk celebrates his tackle against Nebraska during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

DT Jacob Slade/Simeon Barrow: The two interior defenders each playing with a broken hand continually collapsed the pocket on the Cornhuskers’ offensive line, allowing Panasiuk, Beesley and Jeff Pietrowski to chase down Martinez. Slade, a junior, had a sack and tackle for loss among his career-best eight stops, and Barrow’s seven stops were a personal high for the redshirt freshman.

Michigan State's Chester Kimbrough, right, returns an interception against Nebraska during overtime on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's Chester Kimbrough, right, returns an interception against Nebraska during overtime on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

CB Chester Kimbrough: The Florida transfer’s first interception as a Spartan came at the most important moment Saturday, as he anticipated Martinez’s throw on a slant route and picked it off to end Nebraska’s only possession of overtime, nearly returning it for a touchdown that would have ended the game. Kimbrough has emerged as a starter with Alabama transfer Ronald Williams, while freshman Chuck Brantley’s stock also goes up after Kalon Gervin entered the transfer portal Sunday.

JEFF SEIDEL: Michigan State's ugly win in OT over Nebraska was a work of art

Three down

Michigan State's Jalen Hunt, left, tackles Nebraska's Spencer Arceneaux during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's Jalen Hunt, left, tackles Nebraska's Spencer Arceneaux during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

DTs Jalen Hunt/Dashaun Mallory: The emergence of Barrow has overshadowed two returning players expected to emerge this season. Hunt is battling a foot injury which forced him to miss the Miami game and appears to have limited his quick burst off the snap, as he had one tackle against Nebraska. Mallory did not play Saturday for the second straight week and has one stop in two games played.

Offensive line: Little went right in the second half, as MSU’s five drives each ended after three plays and a punt, and the Spartans managed 14 yards on those final 15 plays of regulation. The starting group of LT Jarrett Horst, LG J.D. Duplain, C Matt Allen, RG Kevin Jarvis and RT AJ Arcuri gave way to a unit that found a little more success, with LT Luke Campbell, LG Blake Bueter, C Nick Samac, RG Matt Carrick and Jarvis at RT. That group helped spring Kenneth Walker III’s 23-yard cutback run in OT, but both units struggled against Nebraska’s aggressive defense.

Michigan State's Drew Beesley gives the crowd a thumbs up after his injury against Nebraska during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's Drew Beesley gives the crowd a thumbs up after his injury against Nebraska during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

DE Drew Beesley: Beesley’s injury in the second quarter came when safety Darius Snow rolled into him, and the sixth-year senior rode off on a medical cart. He watched the second half sitting on a stretcher behind the end zone, which did not appear to be a good sign for a player who has been a starter and key contributor this season.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State football's D-line performing at high level