FootballScoop is proud to announce that Ron Burton and Chuck Bullough are the 2018 FootballScoop Defensive Line Coaches of the Year presented by AstroTurf as selected by prior winners.
Michigan State's 2018 season did not go as planned. The Spartans began the year as the AP's 11th best team and ended the regular season unranked and 7-5. But what success Sparty did enjoy was on the back of the defensive line, which was once again among the best in the nation.
Michigan State boasted the stingiest rush defense in the nation. Opponents gained just 976 yards on 365 carries, an 81.33 yards per game average that is the lowest in the past two seasons. The Spartans' 2.67 yards per carry average was second nationally, and only four teams permitted fewer than Michigan State's eight rushing touchdowns.
Only one opponent topped the 200-yard mark against Burton and Bullough's front, and only two rushed for more than 120 yards. Compare that to the seven Michigan State opponents who failed to rush for 65 yards -- Utah State (25), Arizona State (44), Indiana (29), Central Michigan (63), Northwestern (8), Purdue (26) and Maryland (26).
Four Michigan State opponents experienced their season-low rushing totals when lined up across from the green and white.
Michigan State was the toughest defense in the nation to spring free against, as just 29 rushes went for double-digit yardage, tied for the fewest in the nation.
The Spartans were unsurprisingly stout in short-yardage situations, stoning opponents on 122-of-178 third down situations, 11th best in the nation. In the red zone, opponents reached the end zone on just 12-of-30 penetrations, a 40 percent success rate that was third worst in the nation.
Michigan State also recorded 25 sacks and 79 tackles for loss on the season.
As a unit, Michigan State finished 14th in total defense (311.5 yards per game allowed), 12th in yards per play (4.62) and 14th in scoring defense (18.0 points per game). Michigan State closed the regular season by limiting four of their final five opponents to fewer than 14 points.
Junior defensive end Kenny Willekes was named the Big Ten's Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year in addition to a First Team All-Big Ten honoree. Junior defensive tackle Raequan Williams was a Third Team All-Big Ten selection.
Burton has been on Mark Dantonio's staff since the 2013 season. A four-year letterman at North Carolina, Burton played for the Dallas Cowboys, Phoenix Cardinals and Los Angeles Raiders before beginning his coaching career as a GA at his alma mater. Before first coaching defensive linemen at Grand Valley State in 2002, Burton coached defensive backs at Morehead State in 1994 and handled linebackers at Eastern Michigan and Indiana from 1995-01. He coached Air Force's defensive line from 2003-12.
Bullough joined the Michigan State staff ahead of this season, though it was far from his first time to don the green and white. He was a four-year letterman at Michigan State from 1988-91 and, after a 5-season run with the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts, he began coaching as a GA with Nick Saban's Michigan State staff in 1997-98. He left East Lansing to again spend another half decade in the NFL, this time coaching linebackers, offensive line and defensive backs for the Chicago Bears from 1999-03. He has been in the college game ever since, coaching at Lake Forest College, Western Michigan, UCLA and Eastern Michigan.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by AstroTurf are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Todd Bates [Clemson], Jess Simpson [Miami], Walter Stewart [Northern Illinois] and Burton and Bullough) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Burton and Bullough will receive their award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.
Burton previously won the Defensive Line Coach of the Year award in 2013. Other are Dick Bumpas (TCU, 2008), Jim Panagos (Central Florida, 2009), Bill Kirelawich (West Virginia, 2010), Brick Haley (LSU, 2011), Randy Hart (Stanford, 2012), Craig Kuligowski (Missouri, 2014), Bo Davis (Alabama, 2015), Greg Mattison (Michigan, 2016) and Larry Johnson (Ohio State, 2017).
1st Nationally - Rushing Defense
1st Nationally - Explosive Runs Allowed
2nd Nationally - Yards Per Carry
3rd Nationally - Red Zone TDs Allowed
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