A Q&A With Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz

Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz talks about the improvement he has seen from the young defensive players over the course of the last few weeks.

Talk about some of the younger defensive players who have impressed you the past few weeks of practice.
"I think that Kaleb Eulls did some things during December that have gotten us excited. The biggest thing with the younger guys is they are having to think so much and that makes it hard for their athleticism to show. But I think Kaleb has gotten more comfortable with our defense. Then, all of sudden, you start to see what he can do. (MSU strength) Coach (Matt) Balis has been telling us all fall how athletic he is in our weight room stuff. And finally on the football field you can start seeing the other side of it where it comes out as a football player. I thought he did some really good things.

"I also thought that both of our young corners - Jamerson Love and Jay Hughes - improved during December. They started stepping up and making more plays. They really showed some major improvements. Now, they are guys, down for down, who can get into a drill and do some good things.

What are your thoughts about the linebackers?
"I think that Ferlando Bohanna did some good things on the inside at middle linebacker. And obviously Chris Hughes has a good future. That is why we played him this year. He will compete for major minutes next year.

"I would say those are the ones that jump out the most. We missed having Matthew Wells out there because of injuries. And the same can be said about Curtis Virges, who was out due to an injury."

Overall, you seem to have been impressed with what you saw from your young guys, guys who will be the future of this program.
"One of the things I learned from Mickey Andrews. He said you get really good as a program when you are coaching next year's team this year. And we try with our DBs to put them in seven-on-seven every week so that Love and Hughes and those other guys are getting coaching, even if you are redshirting them and they are not going to get into a game. Every week they are learning our coverages and playing. The idea is, when the older kids graduate, you aren't starting from scratch with a bunch that have been on campus for a year or two."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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