MSU Coach Geoff Collins Interview, June 20th

Mississippi State Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Geoff Collins talks one-on-one with Gene's Page.

Overall, what are your impressions of the linebackers going into the season?
"I feel really good about them. We have a lot of experience coming back because we played so many kids last year. Of our first and second groups, they probably played 60% and 40% of the time. We call them 1As and 1Bs. We lost Deontae Skinner but we have Dezz Harris ready to go. He played really well for us this spring. He played mostly SAM for us when he first got here but he played WILL in the spring. But he can play either spot. I think he's up to 240 right now and hasn't lost any of his speed. He's got some freakish capabilities. And he doesn't have bad habits either because he really hasn't play any defense. Everything that he does are things that we have taught him."

Benardrick McKinney is the leader of the group, isn't he?
"He's the core of the defense, the program. And he's gotten better throughout the spring due to his effort level. He's got high expectations for himself. He worked on the small details of his fundamentals. He tries to bring people along with him. And because he's such a great player and he works so hard, people listen to him."

What has to happen for your linebackers to be successful this season?
"The chemistry has to be right. We need to make sure Dezz Harris gets to play and contribute some. And we have so many returning players, we need to move them around so that they can be interchangeable. We want to have our best eleven out there at all times regardless of who is playing what position."

Obviously, you are expecting McKinney to be an impact player. Who are some others that you expect to be impact players this season?
"Matt Wells, I expect him to have a big senior season. He's played really good for us in some big games. The big thing with him is we challenged him to be consistent. We want him to be a dynamic playmaker every single game."

Two other young guys are the Browns, Beniquez and Richie. What are your thoughts about them coming into the season?
"Both of them contributed a great deal last year, made a lot of big-time plays for us. Due to the confidence that they got last year playing as redshirt freshmen, I hope we will see a big jump from them."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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