"It Will Be A Good Challenge"

Most coordinators would look stressed, sleep-deprived from burning August night oil in frenzied preparations. Not Geoff Collins. The Bulldog defensive boss doesn't downplay how serious his job is this week. He just prefers presenting it equal parts challenge and opportunity.

Fans of course can draw their own scouting conclusions about Mississippi State's season-opening matchup with #13 Oklahoma State. And what Collins has to say will likely cost them some Zs because the coordinator's homework shows lots of obvious strengths and few if any glaring weaknesses.

"They're really good. They have a high-tempo offense, they've got great skill players, they've got a 6-6, 320-pound offensive line that can move people, good in pass protection. And they've got a quarterback that makes good decisions and another one that can run really well and has a good arm, good accurate arm. So they've got the total package."

The coordinator is new but they've been able to run the same system under several coordinators with success? "Yeah, they've got a great system. What the coach did at Shippensburg (University), a great job with that offense. So I'm sure he's got a little bit of flavor to it but what they've had has worked. They've got a great plan, they've got great players, so it will be a good challenge."

How are they different under each quarterback? "I know people talk about there's a runner and there's a thrower; they're both great throwers and once they get in the open field they can both roll. So they've got a good set of quarterbacks to get ready for."

They bring back a lot at receivers, the Big 12 leader? "He's a great player (Josh Stewart), and then Tracy Moore, they've always had a Blackmon and Bryant and I think he fits that role really well. The one game against Arizona he had three touchdown catches. He's a great player. And the rest of them, I know people act like they're complements; every one of their guys is a threat. So they can catch, they can run in open space, great route-runners, and they play well within the system."

Is it possible even to ‘spy' on the quarterback? "The challenge, and I know Coach Turner and the D-line know this, but it's a big challenge for them. A great offensive line, great pace, the key is to be able to generate some pass rush even when you're fatigued. As you watch, game-in and game-out they kind of wear you down and then the first thing that goes is the pass rush. So that's going to be a big challenge for us to still generate some pass rush even when they've got a couple of plays under their belt, a couple of series, and they start moving sticks."

How difficult is it at this stage to take their offense and narrow down what can actually be practiced? "Right. We just try to find whatever keys we can. But the difficulty is there are things that you pick up and the things that you can recognize; OK, this is what this play is, this is what this series of plays is. It's easy when you're watching cut-ups but when that thing is rolling a thousand miles an hour and still picking up those same keys, that's the challenge."

What does their line do that makes it difficult to get to the quarterback? "They're big, they're physical, they're athletic. The O-line coach is one of the best in the country. They play with a great demeanor, so I can't say enough about the offensive line, I think they're really good."

Is it logical to assume you'll move Chris Jones inside, outside, all over? "Never know! I guess we will know Saturday."

How much are you counting on the experience at linebackers who've seen a lot, like Benardrick McKinney? "Right, and then you've got (Deontae) Skinner, (Matthew) Wells. Benardrick is a great leader, a great motivator, he knows the plan. But then the nice thing too is you've got Nickoe (Whitley) and Jay Hughes who've played a lot of football, got a lot of credibility to make the checks, make the calls, and get the young, inexperienced corners lined up. There's some talent out there, they're going to get a test by a great offense in four days."

If Bohanna can't go does Richie Brown slip in there? "The plan all along, Richie Brown has had a really good preseason. Especially since that first scrimmage he's really picked it up. Beniquez Brown has really picked it up since the first scrimmage. We kind of challenged them, even openly in the meeting we challenged them and both of them have stepped up to the challenge. And I think they're both excited to play… ABC, 2:30, against a top-three offense in the country. It'll be exciting."

What have you seen from the young corners that they can match up? "You know, the thing people talk about, they have a ‘short memory'. So we've got some great receivers, a great quarterback in Tyler (Russell) so they've had some challenges this preseason. But with the confidence and the attitude that Coach (Deshea) Townsend has it's kind of rubbed off on them. So if they have a bad play it doesn't turn into a bad day, they can recover pretty quickly."

How important is that going against a team that a mistake will score some points? "It's huge. They've got a great offense, a great set of skill receivers, and the challenge has been since the start of January: Banks and Slay are gone, somebody has got to step up (and) more than one, two, three, four, five guys have got to step up and fill that void."

How crucial is keeping a 15 yard catch from being 25 and more? "Oh that's huge every week!"

Have you preached that more this week? "We preach that every single day in our meetings, whether we're playing in our scrimmage vs. our offense or getting ready to play whoever. That is the mantra, get it stopped. Once they run the ball the back doesn't gain any more yards after the first contact."

What have Nelson Adams and Jordan Washington done to climb the depth chart? "Attention to detail, Coach Turner is one of the best fundamental D-line coaches in the country, listen to what he says, apply it. There's going to be a bunch of guys that play on Saturday and hopefully they'll play at a high level."

How much stock do you put I a depth chart? "Well, when you hear us out here at practice we never call out ones and twos. 1As and 1Bs, that's all we talk about so they're all ones and they've just got to play to that level on Saturday."

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