Practice Energy Has Collins Juiced For Camp

He invented the ‘juice points' scoring system for defensive practice efforts. Though considering the frigid conditions at Sunday's session ‘slush points' would make more sense. Yet there was Geoff Collins wearing shorts and grinning. "That was fun!" proclaimed the coordinator.

Easy for him to say. No really, it was easy for Collins to enjoy the evening practice. And not just because his own defensive unit turned in a series of good and often entertaining plays. The offensive Bulldogs weren't shut out themselves, nor lacking in energy. It was what any Mississippi State coach wanted to see from the third working day of camp for their AutoZone Liberty Bowl date with Rice.

"It was fun, the guys were flying around, the offense was competing, the defense was competing," Collins said. Everybody had good attitudes, good energy. It was fun to be out there tonight."

It seemed the entire defense really showed energy after stops and forced turnovers, even those not practicing? "Yeah, we chart everything they do. Even when they're not in we're charting the juice points. Guys are flying around having fun. And we have meetings every day to show who has the most juice, the most energy. And I point out certain people that don't at times. So you know, we have fun with it."

How valuable are these early camp practices for the reserves and redshirts? "Oh, it's huge. Absolutely. There's some young guys that have really stepped up the last two days. And we have a big scrimmage Tuesday in the stadium so we'll be excited to see how they perform there."

Talk about moving Dee Arrington from safety to linebacker? "It's kind of the same position he played when he played against Oklahoma State. Kind of the ‘prowler' or ‘bandit' will-position, kind of the same thing he's done before. So it's just getting him a feel out there. He's doing good."

Is Gabe Myles a traitor for going to offense? "Oh, we love Gabe! ‘Gabe Football'! We love that."

Talk about the extra time Dezmond Harris is getting now? "Yeah, he's a big, physical kid. He's 6-3, he's about 232 right now. And you just see him flying around getting better. And the thing I'm proud about too is you watch Matt Wells and Zach Jackson, every play that Dez is in there they're in there with him and they're coaching him up. And he's a big, physical kid that can run and he's got natural leadership ability. He's stepped up as one of the leaders of the young class."

Is Justin Cox now a safety or working both defensive back positions? "We're using this time to kind of work some guys at different positions. It doesn't mean it's a permanent move. But just seeing what they can do. Justin has such a tremendous skill set. He's tall, he's long, he's physical. And he can run. So just whatever position we can put him in is good."

You count juice points but the word we're hearing now is ‘turn up', what is that? "I have no idea what I say 95% of the time I'm out there! I stole it from (linebacker) Richie Brown, that's Richie's term ‘turn up'. We can give that to him."

In the second half of the season the secondary really stepped up, did something click? "I mean they're doing great. Coach (Tony) Hughes is a phenomenal coach, Coach (Deshea) Townsend does a great job with those guys. But I just think the experience of playing in games and every day hearing the same things from Coach Townsend and Coach Hughes, and the experience they get in SEC play has been great."

How rewarding is it watching McKinney and Skinner and other veterans teaching guys? "Right, I mean I can't say enough about those guys. Deontae Skinner graduating from college yesterday, that was huge and I'm so proud of him. And Benardrick and Matt stepping up in that leadership role. Because I was here when they were little babies, now they're big-time SEC players and they act like it on the field and off the field."

Is Nick James trimmed-down and showing more energy? "Yeah, he's flying around, he's got a ton of energy. And there's things we're still working on, refining his technique. But Coach (Matt) Balis has finally gotten him into a place, I mean he used to be able to play two plays and go really hard then he was done. But now you see him, we had a 30-play or actually a 60-play rack right there; beginning to the end he's still running around, flying around, having energy and juice."

A lot of balls were getting knocked loose for turnovers today? "Right, that's the focus is creating turnovers, getting the ball. And you see whenever we do that the whole sideline erupts. They're just having fun, which in this kind of weather for them to still have such great attitudes is a testament to Coach (Dan) Mullen and Coach Balis, the kind of mindset that they've developed with this team."

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