Post-Practice Q&A with Geoff Collins

The opponent supposedly uses a high-flying, wide-flinging sort of attack. Geoff Collins isn't fooled an instant. When he scouts Auburn, he sees classic offense. "They put a lot of window-dressing on all their plays, but at their core they're a physical, SEC football team."

A team Mississippi State's defensive coordinator is busy scheming for this week, as the Bulldogs (1-1) and Tigers (2-0) open their respective conference seasons. Certainly Auburn is a significant change of pace. State opened against a true wide-open system with Oklahoma State; then had a pretty dominating day against a SWAC victim. Now, Collins said, it's time to face something seriously physical.

"They're great offenses, and the one that we're going up against (is) one of the best in the country. Coach Malzahn and Coach Lashlee do a great job calling plays, scheming it up. They've got a talented group of running backs, a big offensive line with four returning starters. And the quarterback is a dynamic player. The fullback is big, physical, tough, and the tight ends some of them look like they're wide receivers out there running around. So they've got a lot of weapons, a lot of talent, so it's going to be a big challenge."

The quarterback was a safety a couple of years ago, does he look like a quarterback at this point? "Oh, there's no doubt. He is fast, he's electric, once he gets into the open field he's a dynamic player. So he's a big challenge for us."

They have three backs with 500 of their 800 total yards? "They're a special group of guys. I mean I've got to imagine they're probably the deepest tailback spot in the conference. And that's saying something. And they're all kind of different threats, but they're all dynamic players once they get the ball in their hands. Some are built for speed, some are built for power, but they're all legitimate, big-time SEC backs."

Having A.J. Jefferson and Curtis Virges playing well helps with line depth? "You know, I think Coach (David) Turner, again I've said a bunch I think David Turner is a great d-line coach, does a great job developing those kids. And just getting the depth that we have, we kept rolling them I think almost every three plays we were rolling them. Luckily we were fortunate enough, I think we were 86% three-and-outs on the day. Which is what we expect, but the d-line had a huge part of that. And the depth at that spot is big for us."

You want sacks but they are getting pressures and breaking up passes? "Yeah, the big thing we've stressed the whole time since January is creating mayhem. And they were getting PBUs, tackles for loss, I think we had eight on the day and I think we've averaged eight. But that's going to be a big challenge Saturday because they have such a great offensive line and several receivers and running backs."

What is your impression of Justin Cox? "My favorite play from Saturday, that's what Coach Mullen just talked about for five minutes; on the kickoff team on Saturday Justin Cox was the first down by ten yards. And it wasn't that other people weren't trying, they were running down too. But just Justin is such a dynamic athlete and Coach (Deshea) Townsend is doing a great job with him, getting him ready. And we expect him to keep getting better and better every week."

Has Gabe Myles been getting looks at scout team quarterback based on his new number? "Gabe is awesome. A great kid. I think he got a lot of juice points, I think he got a special number because of juice points, I don't know."

Chris Jones we think was joking about being partially a tackle and a full end? "Just the way Coach Turner teaches it, a three-technique's a five-technique's a nine-technique. It doesn't really change, a two's a four's a seven, all the same thing. Just his development has been great. Some of the plays that he's in, I mean you can see a physical difference in the way the plays are going, and the things we ask him to do. So he's going to be a big-time player."

How key will it be getting a Ferlando Bohanna back with linebackers needing to defend the edge? "I mean, I think right now we're six or seven that are legitimate SEC kids. I mean Richie Brown had a great game Saturday, he was a Champion on special teams, a Champion on defense. Beniquez Brown played really well, Zach Jackson for two weeks in a row has done a really good job. And then the kids like (Deontae) Skinner, Benardrick (McKinney), and Matt Wells, I've got to imagine they're three of some of the best linebackers in the conference."

How did Kendrick Market grade in his first start at safety? "Yeah, Kendrick's good. I think he's reminiscent of the kid at LSU a couple of years ago; that kind of ‘difference maker' in the run game, the pass game. He's got a nose for the ball, a great kid. And his nickname is ‘Poke Dog' and he's just sticking his head into everything. He's awesome."

Auburn is 7-of-7 in red zone offense, what do they do well? "Everything. They do everything well. They put a lot of window-dressing on all their plays but at their core they're a physical, SEC football team. They want to run the ball, they want to be physical, and when you get down in the red zone that's SEC football. They're really good at it."

Talk about Christian Holmes playing linebacker again for a few plays Saturday? "Turtle! Turtle's the man! We told him at halftime to get ready to play, he said OK. I said what position do you feel better at; sam, mike, or will? He said Coach just put me in! He's awesome."


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