White, Dog Defense Begin Bowl Game Planning

It was all very pleasant what with the limited practice duties and minimal exertions. Still Chris White admits, he'd become just a little antsy of late. Bored, even. "It's been nice to be able to relax a little bit. But now we start back at work."

The real work of preparing for Mississippi State's date with Michigan in the 2011 Gator Bowl, that is. After seven days of more watching than working, senior linebacker White and the rest of the Bulldog varsity stepped back into a real game routine today. This was the plan set by Coach Dan Mullen, investing one week in brush-up drills for the regulars along with development and scrimmaging of younger Dogs; before making the change now to real bowl preparations.

For his part White had done a little bit of preliminary thinking about the bowl matchup. Just getting a basic idea of how the Wolverines operate, he said…and in some ways it is fairly basic at that.

"They pretty much do the same things that every other offense does," said White. "But they're good at it. They run the quarterback a lot and that makes them hard to stop, it means an extra blocker for the offense. So it's going to be tough. But we're going to be ready."

Simpler said than done of course. Plenty other teams this fall got ready for Michigan and Denard Robinson; few managed to keep the quicksilver playmaker down for long. Bulldog defenders who caught some Wolverine day games while waiting for their own evening SEC contests this season compare Robinson to a variety of current and former conference standouts…yet add that this guy might be quicker and faster than them all.

"If he gets it up the field it's going to be a touchdown," White said. "So we have to contain him and get people to the ball." Which to their credit the Bulldog defense was able to do against most all the opposing quarterbacks faced in 2010, including Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, Ole Miss' Jeremiah Masoli, or ‘wild' backs like Randall Cobb of Kentucky and the like. Robinson is special, White affirms. But then many times the Bulldog defense has played that way, too.

"We've got a good defense too. We're going to have a good gameplan for them, but we just have to go out there and play."

If an old Dog like White needed any reminder of what happens when a gameplan breaks down, he saw it in action Thursday evening at Scott Field. During Mississippi State's only bowl scrimmage, a session planned to let a bunch of pups and backups have some camp fun, offense owned the evening with seven touchdowns tallied.

Only two of those came at the expense of the White team defense…a unit being ‘coached' by none other than White. The State staff put play-calling in the hands of starters, which certainly added to the fun. White did not take credit for the gameplan itself; that was on a chart handed to him by his own coordinator boss.

"Coach (Manny) Diaz made this up. We could only call nine plays, so that kept it limited. Just so we could see all these young guys play so they wouldn't have to really think a lot." Maybe they didn't, but White certainly did. He took his ‘coaching' position darn seriously and discovered there really is a difference in how the game looks from the sideline as opposed to his middle linebacker position.

Sounds different, too.

"I had a bunch of people behind me saying call this, call that, call this the whole time!" White mock-grimaced. "It's tough, because when I was out there and didn't know what to call I'd just point at something (on the chart) to call it and hope it works! But it's definitely hard." Fortunately White was the defensive coach smiling biggest afterwards with a finale ‘score' of five touchdowns to two.

"K.J. Wright was calling the other team and I was calling this team. Yeah, we won, but I think I had the better defense though," admitted White. His team also had the better offensive playmaker too, though White cautioned ecstatic scrimmage reports of Dylan Favre's prowess should be kept in perspective.

After all, there was no Chris White on the other side of the line to contend with. "Yeah, he definitely wasn't going up against a legit SEC defense! He's still a good ball player."

Though a bit bored with watching White saw good things for the 2011 Dog defense. The point of week-one was finding who steps into the spots that White, Wright, and Emmanuel Gatling graduate from. White liked how hard and well his own '10 backup Brandon Wilson has performed, and gave good reviews to outside ‘backers like Mike Hunt and Chris Hughes. State already has other known quantities in Cameron Lawrence and Deonte Skinner. Then there are the redshirts, Ferlando Bohanna and Christian Holmes, and more candidates for spring selections.

"Coach Diaz said the other day it's going to be tough in spring," White said. Of course that is the coach's concern because by then White will be an alumnus of the Bulldog defense. Hopefully one with a bowl victory on his resume as well, which is another reason White was so ready to resume working Friday.

Working, not coaching. White is glad to hand that task back to the professionals.

"Coach Diaz makes up the scouting report. But like when I was calling plays, if the defense doesn't play it's not going to work."

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