Collins, Dog Defense See Opening Opportunity

Coach Geoff Collins is upbeat by nature. Still there was some spring in the defensive coordinator's step following Wednesday's work. "We had a good practice, good tempo, people flying around. So it's fun being out here with the guys. We had that one day-off Monday with classes, now it's time to focus on a little ball."

A little ball? How about a great big challenge? And it is Collins and his defensive staff and squad who share a sizable responsibility in getting Mississippi State prepared to face a perennial offensive powerhouse in the season debut. Instead of showing concerns though, Collins is presenting an opener against Oklahoma State as opportunity for the Bulldogs.

The players seem pumped about playing Oklahoma State and the challenge that offense presents? "A big challenge. They've been top-three in the country in offense three-straight years. Great skill players, great quarterback, great offensive line. The running back, #31, he's a really good player so it's going to be a great challenge. We're excited about it."

How do you replicate their speed on offense? "Well, we've got Tyler Russell who moves fast; Gabe Jackson, (LaDarius) Perkins, the core receivers, they do a good job. Coach Mullen and the staff give us some tempo and try to get used to the speed of the game."

Are their drills to duplicate that speed? "Just when we go we do two-minute tempo, to begin the practice we do two-minute. During practice the scout team does a great job to get the tempo going."

Will this game tell how the defense will do the rest of the season? "It will be a great challenge. We're fired-up for it, couldn't ask for a better opener. A great team, great offense, great coaches, so…see what happens!"

Coach Mullen said the ideal is about 40 plays for a player, will you have to rely on starters and veterans more against this style for a first game? "Right. It just depends on position, it depends on how much depth we have at each spot, just getting them going."

If you force lots of three-and-outs it won't be a problem? "That'd be nice, wouldn't it!"

OSU is not revealing their quarterback, are you preparing for two? "They're both good, and they've both played significant games and done a really good job so they show up on tape. They kind of pose different threats but we kind of see that every day in practice with Tyler and Dak (Prescott). So that's been a good challenge for us too."

Do you notice any difference in the practice attitude with having an OSU in mind? "A little bit. But I think ever since this game was announced and the season was over, you have such a great opponent to get ready for and eight, nine months to get ready for it that you start preparing. They've been doing that, Coach (Matt) Balis has been doing that for nine months trying to get them ready for such a good team."

How big will conditioning be in this opener? "Conditioning is huge. And we have the best strength coach in the country, Matt Balis and his staff do a great job. So it's just getting them ready to play and ready for the tempo."

An OSU lineman said SEC defenses aren't as conditioned as they should be against that type of offense? "They have a great offensive line, their O-line coach is really good, so it will be a good challenge!"

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