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Could have done without that: Chris L. Rucker suspended

Per Rexrode and various Twitter sources, Mark Dantonio has suspended cornerback Chris L. Rucker for at least one game for an unspecified violation of team rules that must have occurred in the aftermath of yesterday's win.  This is, needless to say, exactly the sort of thing that Spartan fans who have suffered through a multitude of big wins over the last couple decades that were followed closely by spectacular collapses would prefer not to see.

The positive spin, I suppose, is that Dantonio is sending a message that he's not going to put up with any off-the-field nonsense down the stretch.  Rucker was one of the players suspended for participating in the Rather Hall incident last fall, so he presumably had a finer margin for error in terms of off-the-field behavior.

Rucker will be replaced in the lineup with true freshman Darqueze Dennard.  After missing the first couple games with an injury, Dennard has appeared in four games this season, recording two tackles in the process.  Sophomore Mitchell White is the other guy potentially in line based on the depth chart.  White has appeared in all six games, recording seven tackles.  Because Pat Narduzzi sticks with the base defense in almost all situations, neither guy has seen much, if any, meaningful action to date with the defense.  (I'm guessing at least some of those tackles were recorded on special teams.)

This is a blow for a secondary really hitting its peak after spending all of last season as the scapegoat for the team's defensive struggles.  MSU now, believe it or not, ranks in the top ten nationally in interceptions with 9 (HT: Pete); the team also ranks in the top 25 in both defensive completion percentage and passer rating.  Rucker recorded one of those interceptions yesterday and is tied for second on the team in tackles.  The good news, I guess, is that Illinois features a run-heavy offense, averaging only 20.8 pass attempts per game (112th in the nation).

It'll take more than this to knock us off our post-victory high, but it's a dose of reality in terms of the discipline that's going to be needed over the next month and a half.  If this team is going to grab the very large opportunity currently knocking on its door, it's going to need to learn to deal with success constructively.