A Q&A With Coach Geoff Collins

A one-on-one Q&A with Mississippi State linebackers coach/co-defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.

What are your thoughts about your veteran linebackers?
"Cameron Lawrence is doing a great job. I've asked him to do a lot from the leadership standpoint. And he's really stepped up to the plate. He's been a leader and knows his stuff. He's helping the younger guys. He brings enthusiasm and intensity to the practices. And he's a tough guy."

Brandon Wilson is another veteran.
"We have Brandon playing in the middle. And he had a great scrimmage (Thursday). He was all over the field making plays. We have asked him to step up and try to get everything to revolve around him as far as the calls, getting everybody lined up and on the same page. And he's really embraced that role. And he's been out here just making plays. We've asked a lot from him and he's done that, and more."

Jamie Jones is a third veteran for you.
"I've got Jamie playing every position at linebacker and he knows every single thing. He knows what everybody is supposed to do, so sometimes I will put him in there with the young guys just to make sure he gets them all lined up. He's run with the ones, the twos and the threes just to help everybody out. He has a great attitude and has really embraced trying to help out on special teams, too. I've been really pleased with him."

A youngster that played some this past season as a true freshman is Chris Hughes.
"Chris is a very explosive player who played a lot last year. He is probably one of our fastest linebackers and can jump the highest. We are just trying to get him to play as fast as he really is. Sometimes he doesn't play as fast as he is. He is also a highly intelligent person. We are playing him at the SAM linebacker, the nickel backer and he's done a really good job there."

Where are you playing redshirt freshman Christian Holmes?
"We are playing Christian at the WILL and a little bit of the MIKE. He didn't play as much last year because he was on the scout team, so he's still trying to process everything. But I think he is going to be a very good football player. He is very talented. I think he can play either MIKE or WILL. I think the thing with him is learning everything and being able to apply it once he's in game like situations."

Another redshirt freshman is Ferlando Bohanna.
"He is very intense and a highly intelligent guy. He's probably made more plays than almost anybody out there. He's run with the threes, twos and ones. He's a guy who jumps off the film a little bit because when he hits you, you know he has hit you. He knocks people back and that's what you are looking for, especially at the middle linebacker spot."

What are your thoughts about sophomore Deontae Skinner?
"He is a big kid, 6-3, 240, who can run. We are just trying to figure out what position he is best suited for. But he can play sideline to sideline. And he has a little mean streak in him. I've been very, very happy with his development through the first four practices."

Another young linebacker you have is redshirt freshman Matthew Wells.
"He is playing our nickel backer, our SAM linebacker. He's a very fast kid who moves well in space and is a great open-field tackler. He's had a great attitude about everything. And the advantage he has is coming from the back end (defensive back), he understands coverage and understands where his help is. I really think he has embraced playing new positions."

You seem to play your guys at most of the positions, WILL, SAM and MIKE.
"I ask them to know everything. Like (Thursday), they all played different positions and they all played with each other. Matt Wells will be playing with Brandon and Cam. Then it will be Chris Hughes playing with Brandon and Deontae. Every series it was three different linebackers playing three different positions. I want to expose them to everything."

Won't you have to move each player to a specific position and leave them there?
"What you don't want to have is your starting MIKE linebacker getting hurt and your sixth best linebacker is your other MIKE. So, if they don't know everything then you have no flexibility within the system."

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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