"The Guys Have A Bad Taste In Their Mouths"

It's definitely a mixed mood in the Bulldog defensive meeting room this week. Coach Geoff Collins' crew came out of their season opener with some positive points to review and build upon…yet they were still on the losing side of the 21-3 scoreboard. So, back to work, says the defensive coordinator.

"We did some good things, played hard, we just took a while to get the triple-option stuff fixed, get it adjusted," Collins said. "But they flew around, had good energy. We just have to learn how to finish, the first half was pretty good especially the first 25 minutes. And the last 35 minutes, we just have to work on fixing those things."

The fixing is underway as Mississippi State (0-1) prepares for its home opener Saturday against Alcorn State (1-0). Gametime is 2:35 for CSS telecast from Scott Field. About 800 tickets remained for sale as of Tuesday afternoon.

Following Tuesday's practice, coordinator and linebackers coach Collins met with media.

Holding that offense to three touchdowns had to be encouraging? "I just hate anybody ever getting into the end zone. Coach Mullen hired me to stop people from getting in there, if they get in there I'm very disappointed no matter who it is."

How did you assess the play of the young defensive linemen? "It was good to see Nelson Adams, Chris (Jones), they did some really good things. A couple of plays Chris Jones was just a terror in the backfield which is what hoped he would be. And we've just got to work on some technical things and just consistently playing hard, and he's going to be a force in the future."

He practiced end in practice, then moved inside? "Coach (David) Turner is one of the best in the business, and we started him out wide because it's a little easier to learn without everything going on. And then just out of necessity moved him inside for a couple of snaps. And he looked comfortable in there, it doesn't mean he's an inside guy all the way. I think he's talented enough to play anywhere we need him on the defensive line. So we're excited about Chris."

It hurts to lose Jay Hughes, but going out early you got Dee Arrington and Kendrick Market more work? "Yeah, absolutely, they played really well. A couple of times they gotta do some of the adjustments too, to get some things fixed. But they played well. Deonte Evans got in there and did some good things too. So the future is bright for some of the young guys."

You face five more teams that run that zone-read, are there basic things you can accomplish? "There is good things. We did some things changing up some looks on them, so they'd see one look and then we'd play some different things trying to confuse them. And the key to the whole season is continuing to disguise everything that we're doing and not give them the same look day-in and day-out."

What have you seen of Alcorn State? "Oh, they've got some athletes. Their quarterback is 6-6, 200 pounds; they've got two 6-2 receivers that can run, they've got some talent. They've got some big offensive linemen that are pretty powerful."

"So any time you get to line-up in our stadium and play you've got to be excited. And the guys have a bad taste in their mouth that they want to get out."

With Hughes out and Jamerson Love iffy how are you adjusting the secondary? "Well, the same thing we've done with the linebacker position. We move guys around, we try to cross-train them as much as possible so they're exposed to a lot of different techniques so they can move in and out, position from position and not miss a beat."

How did your linebackers evaluate for the first game, you played some newer guys? "Yeah, the young Brown brothers played really well. Zach Jackson arguably had the play of the game on that slip-screen, we've got to work on his celebration a little bit! But he played at a high level and it's kind of reminiscent of Zach and Deontae Skinner when they were young, they make one or two spectacular plays then they start to have a little more confidence. And you can just see that in Zach Jackson this week out at practice, the same thing with Richie. He had never prepared for a college football game, now he knows how the process works. So I'm excited to see him in game-two, him and Beniquez."

Have you seen an extra ‘step' in practice this week because of what Coach Mullen called a chip on the shoulder? "Yeah, the chip on the shoulder, Coach Mullen and Coach (Matt) Balis do a great job making sure we have that blue-collar mentality, that we have a chip on our shoulder. And try to make sure that we gain respect any time we go out."


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