Collins Works Overtime Scheming For Tigers

Nope. He had a whole bye-week for studying a full month of game already. And nothing he's seen from their latest batch of video has changed Coach Geoff Collins' opinion of Louisiana State. In fact, "I think they've gotten better! The more you watch them, the better they get. They're a really good offense."

Good enough that Mississippi State's defensive coordinator will have needed these whole two weeks of work just to have his unit prepared, hopefully, for the upcoming contest. While the Bulldog players only practiced three days last week and used the rest of bye-time to go bye-bye from campus a while, Collins and staff sliced and diced LSU video obsessively. Including, of course, their shootout at Georgia which while a loss showed all sorts of big-play potential. Huge-play, even.

The Bulldogs have seen teams so far who can throw the ball lots. They've also faced some spread-style or read-option runners. These Tigers are another bunch of cats though.

"They're very big, they're very physical, do a great job in the run game," Collins said following Tuesday's practice. "And Zach Mettenberger is playing really well right now, I think he put on a show last Saturday. So it's a huge challenge for us. They've got great running backs, huge offensive line, and a quarterback who can manage the game and make some great throws."

This was already regarded as a power running offense, but at Georgia they really threw the ball around the field? "Yeah, they're very dynamic, very balanced. They can run the ball with the best of them, one of the best running teams in the country. And the way the passing game goes, the receivers that they have are probably two of the best in the SEC."

"Jeremy Hill is a great running back, and I think each of the guys in the four-deep have had 100-yard rushing games. So it's a great challenge for us, we're excited for us, and it's going to be a big night Saturday night."

Against opponents so far your defense has been able to take something away from every offense, what do you take away from LSU? "Hopefully you can try to take away everything! But it's going to be a huge challenge. I mean they can do it all. And they are a power-running game, which we have not seen this year. They line up in I-backs, they line up in two tight ends, and they do a great job. They're a bunch of big guys on the offensive line, their tight end is 6-5, 280 and he's a load. So it's going to be a big challenge for us."

How do you take away a team's best weapon? "Just, players buying into what we're trying to do. Sometimes maybe we've been getting lucky I guess. But we want to try to fly around, make a lot of plays, and that's what we're trying to do Saturday night."

What is your approach to 3rd-and-shorts? "The big thing we always try to do is we want to stay away from 3rd-and-short. The big thing, we want to live the game in 3rd-and-10, 3rd-and-11 if you can. Watching, preparing for third down for LSU, you watch the 3rd-and-short cutup it's very long. 3rd-and-medium cutup's long; the 3rd-and-extra-long (is) just a couple of plays. They make sure they gain three to four yards on every down so they're always living in 3rd-and-3-to-4, 3rd-and-1-to-2; and they can execute that at a very high level."

"The big thing is trying to live in 3rd-and-long if we can, and once we get to third down is getting off the field. Georgia did a decent job of getting them into some third-down situations but Mettenberger was such a great job of converting those third downs, keep the chains going. So that will be the big challenge Saturday night."

In that game Mettenberger took some shots that maybe weren't the best decisions but he made them work anyway? "Yeah, he's got a lot of confidence in his receivers, and they are big-time play-makers. He knows where to put the ball, I think Coach (Cam) Cameron has done a great job with him reading coverages and knowing where to go with the football. And he's done a really good job, especially on those third-down situations knowing exactly where to go with the ball. And he's got some play-makers that can go and get it and convert."

Is there an advantage having practiced against Tyler Russell? "Tyler's a big-time quarterback and we've got some really good receivers on this team, so we see them every day. We've gone third-down against our offense and it's a big challenge every day just going against those guys. That prepares us, but Saturday night under the lights in the stadium we'll see how we respond on third downs."

You've seen tempo offense up to now, is the key forcing third-and-six or longer? "Right, we're just trying to get them in third-and-manageable situations for us. Don't let it be in situations they have high success in converting."

How valuable is an extra week of preparation? "For us, we've seen eight weeks (note: in practice and games) of shotgun, spread, three- and four-wides. So that extra week going against the I-back-run was huge for us. So hopefully Saturday night when they lineup in that I-back and that big fullback and big tailback and huge offensive line are coming downhill at us, at least we know how to fit it."

You've had to play so many cornerbacks and safeties so far, how do you select the group for this game? "We're getting some other guys back who haven't played. So we try to rotate our guys all the time, so they're ready to play in this kind of environment on Saturday night."

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