Dog Defense Scouting Tiger Size And Speed

He’s seen this sort of LSU-act before. And familiarity with what Mississippi State is about to again face across the line of scrimmage breeds the exact opposite of contempt from defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.

Seasons and names change but LSU’s offensive style doesn’t. So Mississippi State’s defense is preparing for the same sort of big matchup issues in this 2014 rematch at Tiger Stadium. Emphasis, Collins repeats, on the ‘big’ part.

”They’ve got a big offensive line; they’re 6-6, 320-330. The tight end is a big kid I think he’s 290, 295, a big, physical run-blocker and he’s athletic in space. They just keep reloading at tailback, another great one, they just roll them in.”

“And big-time playmakers on the outside. The quarterback is playing really well, makes great decisions, he’s athletic and can move around if the play’s not there. So it’s going to be a big challenge.”

Your defense leads the SEC in tackles-for-loss, what must you do with that front seven to create that against LSU? “Same thing we’ve been doing. Play technically sound, great fundamentals, play really, really hard. I think when you watch us, when we play really good it’s because of the effort and the fundamentals. That doesn’t change on the opponent or the environment or anything like that. You’ve got to come out with a lot of juice, a lot of energy, tackle well, fit in the blocks and get off blocks and swarm to the football.”

What have you seen from quarterback Anthony Jennings? “He’s a good player. He throws the ball really well, you can see him changing the looks, changing protections, changing the running game vs. different looks. They’ve done a great job with him. Obviously they have great offensive coaches, Coach Cameron in particular, getting him ready. He makes good decisions and then whenever a player isn’t there he can make something happen beyond the regular play.”

”But they’ve got a great offensive line, great running backs that they execute very well, a very high level.”

Have you talked at all about the fourth quarter, giving up 28 points, last year? “We just talk about playing our game, playing physical, playing with a lot of juice, running to the ball. And we know that it’s a big challenge, we’ve got to be ready.”

How do you balance stopping the running game but also fixing some issues in big pass plays with Travin Dural? “Yeah, he’s a good player. I think he’s averaging like 30 yards a reception, so he’s a good player. We’re very well-aware of it. The good thing about what happened two weeks ago (against UAB), it was a wake-up call for us just to make sure we can’t relax at any moment. We’ve got to be ready, we’re going to be put in one-on-one situations and we’ve got to come out with the play.”

What did you learn from two weeks ago to help with this week’s matchup? “They’ve got a great scheme, big physical guys up front and they can pass protect really well. And they’ll max-protect at times and just take shots. So whenever that happens we have to be ready for it and I think our guys understand they’re going to be put in those situations and they have to compete and fight and understand they’re going against great players. And it’s going to be a great challenge.”

You have been hit for some big pass plays but been able to stop drives in the red zone? “Sure. And that was one of the biggest things in the off-season that we focused on. The two things we struggled with last year mainly were red zone defense and two minute. So in the off-season and pre-season made a big emphasis on that, that if teams get down there we’ve got to tighten-up and not let them in the end zone, force them to a field goal. And I think we’ve blocked two on the season. We get a chance to put them in a field goal our guys play really hard on those plays.”

We’ve talked about Preston Smith’s progress on the field, has he changed much off the field? “Absolutely. He’s very mature, played three years in this program so he’s four years now playing in the system. He’s been in almost every situation that you can be in, played in every venue that you can play in.”

”The thing that’s impressive about Preston, everybody sees the flashy plays. They see the sacks, they see the blocked field goals, they see the one-handed, off-a-back-foot interception. The thing that I’m impressed with is every single play the basic plays, the fundamental plays, the technical plays. He’s making those plays. Where in the past he had the flashiness, he could make those big plays, but now the routine plays he’s making those at a high level.”

”Chris Jones’ sack (at USA) on Saturday, Preston Smith defeated three blocks to force the quarterback to scramble and Chris Jones made the sack. Unbelievable play by Preston. But everybody sees Chris made a great play as well, but Preston defeated three blocks and just went crazy to get back there and cause a bunch of mayhem and get people free.”

How had Beniquez Brown replaced Deontae Skinner? “First of all I’m proud of Deontae starting his first game in the League, I mean I couldn’t be more proud of him. And even if he wasn’t I’d still be proud of him! But anyway, Beniquez has done a great job. The strength Beniquez has is kind of like the strengths that Cam (Lawrence) had. Cam would make all the calls, he would see the formations, he would see run/pass tendencies. Beniquez is already doing those kinds of things for us. He makes all the checks, all the adjustments and he’s playing at a high level. And he’s making a bunch of plays, too.”

Pass rush was an emphasis in off-season, how would you grade the performance thus far? “It’s getting better every single week. I think we had what, six sacks last week? Coach (David) Turner has done a great job. And I know going against big-time SEC offensive linemen like LSU that’s even raising the stakes for those kids. They understand that we’ve got to be able to generate a pass rush to help the back end on Saturday. Because they’re big and physical and long and are great pass protectors.”

How do you balance pass rush against a team that runs so well? “Right. And the quarterback is athletic and if you don’t stay in your lanes, he can pop one and run for 20, 30. He’s an athletic kid.”

Kaleb Eulls isn’t a splashy guy but people respect him? “Absolutely. Kaleb Eulls, one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach. He comes to work every single day, great attitude, great fundamentals, great technique. I think he had one assist on Saturday; he got double-teamed 90% of the time and freed-up other guys to make plays. He was a Champion of the week for us as the defense and even though on the stat book people don’t notice him in the defensive staff room, on the defense as a whole, we know he’s one of the most valuable players on our defense.”

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