Collins, now the overall coordinator, is charged with assembling an even better—hopefully—gameplan for the 2013 rematch at Scott Field (6:38, FSN). The task is formidable to say the least as Collins evaluates another potent Trojan offense. Actually, he calls it "a great offense."
"Coach (Larry) Blakeney does a great job, the offensive coordinator does a great job. Great skill players, a quarterback I think is leading the country or the all-time leading passer in college football. So it's a big challenge, and the kids remember what happened to us last year. They did a great job on offense against us so we've got a big challenge again coming up Saturday."
Coach Mullen has said the defense will have several good plays then kind of a disaster somewhere, how do you keep consistency? "That's the key. I mean we're trying every day to get better. You just look at a couple of plays in the Auburn game, there were three plays that I think gave up 150 yards. Other than that, we played pretty well for the most part. So it's just maturity, keep developing, and learn how to finish."
After the first two Auburn drives what were the adjustments? "I think after, we had four three-and-outs during the game, it could have been a couple more. But the unfortunate play that happened in the first quarter, we have them 3rd-and-7 and the kid falls down, he's the deep player; we give up a touchdown which if he doesn't fall down we're off the field on that drive and that's seven less points on the field. Just little things like that that we've got to learn how to handle, not make mistakes that kill us in the passing game and in the running game."
What do you like about Deontae Skinner and how has he changed since last year? "Deontae Skinner is one of my favorite players of all time, that I've ever coached. And I'm going to try not to get choked-up, he is just form the time I got here to who he is right now? I mean he's an unbelievable human being. Just the development he's done playing sam linebacker, playing some mike linebacker last year, and now he's a big time willie ‘backer. High character, and he's the heart and soul of what we do."
With the linebacker rotation there are a lot of young guys you're trusting? "Yeah. And on the back-end, too, a lot of young players. We've just got to throw them out there. We've got a lot of big-time SEC games coming up; one of the best offenses in the country coming in Saturday. And so they've all got to play."
"The teams that we have left are a lot of high-tempo offenses and if those young guys aren't ready to play and don't get experience early then they're never going to get it. So that is one of the things that Coach Mullen has stressed with us: make sure they're playing, make sure they're playing a lot, and make sure they're playing early in the game so we don't wait until the wind, decide to put them in and they've been sitting on the sideline all game and they're tired or they haven't been in the flow of the game."
Coach Mullen said you might have to shuffle the secondary again this week with the health of Nickoe Whitley and others? "Whoever is out there is going to play. We're excited about them, and Coach (Deshea) Townsend and Coach (Tony) Hughes do a great job getting whoever needs to play ready. And so we're just excited about the challenge, one of the best passing offenses in the country that we've got to be ready for."
Skinner got his first sack the other day, did that symbolize what you want from the defense, everybody going to the ball? "That's exactly right. Deontea did a great job hunting it. And we have the Sacks Board that we talk about. Richie (Brown) got one, he got one. Benardrick (McKinney) got a half. And Zack Jackson caused the one that A.J. Jefferson got in the first drive. So a lot of guys were around the ball, just flying around and creating mayhem."
What has been different getting turnovers the last two games? "The big thing is just effort and timing and things just kind of happen for us. Just flying around, giving great effort, and the ball will come to us."