Michigan State welcomes back most of the Big Ten's stingiest defense, the one that allowed only 16.6 points per game in league play last season.
All eyes will be on the offense to improve as the Spartans try to better its 7-6 finish from a year ago. There will be no doubt about who will be under center if coach Mark Dantonio can help it.
Brian Lewerke led the Spartans to a 10-3 season as a sophomore while throwing for almost 2,800 yards and 20 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. Injuries limited him to 10 starts last fall and his performance suffered, too. He finished the year with eight touchdown passes and 11 picks as Michigan State's offense managed just averaged 17.2 points in Big Ten play.
Rocky Lombardi won two of his three starts in Lewerke's place, but Dantonio said the redshirt sophomore will start the season as the backup.
"Right now, Brian is our No. 1 quarterback," he said, adding the senior is "healthier, bigger and stronger."
Defensive end Raequan Williams, one of three defensive players who joined Dantonio in Chicago, agreed.
"We were watching some of the throws he made in the spring and in OTAs," Williams said, "and it was like, 'man, we got our guy back.' We're excited."