A.J. Jefferson Talks Bulldog Defense

Sophomore defensive end A.J. Jefferson has seen his stock rise within the Mississippi State football program. Jefferson saw his first action last fall, but has now become a valuable member of the Bulldogs' defensive line rotation. Now a regular contributor, Jefferson believes he is on the right path thanks to the coaching of David Turner and the mentoring of senior defensive end Preston Smith.

"I am okay with where I am at right now, but I am just trying to get better," said Jefferson. "I am trying to use Preston (Smith), while he's here to learn as much as I can from him," said Jefferson. "I talk to him about game preparation and we talk all during the game about things we see the guards doing and what we see on the field.

"We all just try to help each other and I am trying to learn all I can from the other guys."

The Mississippi State defensive line set the tone for the Bulldogs in their win over LSU last weekend in Death Valley.

While fans are still basking in the glow of a 4-0 start, Jefferson reports that the team still has some work to do to reach their full potential.

"I think we're pretty confident, but we're not satisfied yet," said Jefferson. "We all know that we have to get better.

"We did pretty good against LSU, but we still have to be better."

"LSU was a big win, but it's just one game."

Defensive line coach David Turner is not one to simply hand out compliments unless they are earned during practice or on the playing field.

Jefferson reports that the veteran coach has shared both positive and negative feedback over the course of the season.

"One thing he has complimented us on is not getting bored doing the same things," said Jefferson. "You know if you're a three technique, then you have to hold down the B gap and if you're a shade you have to hold down the A gap.

"He commends us on the things that we do well, but he wants us to finish a bunch of plays."

The Bulldog front wall is as deep as it has been in several years. With several players contributing, it has allowed the Bulldog defensive coaches to share reps and prevent players from breaking down physically over the course of the season.

"Everybody is just doing their job," said Jefferson. "I know if I mess up, then it might be a busted defense.

"One bad play on defense can be six points. We take a lot of pride in everybody doing their jobs and keeping that from that happening."

"We have 1As and 1Bs. The first group is Preston (Smith), Ryan (Brown), Kaleb (Eulls) and P.J. (Jones) and the second group is me, Nelson (Adams), Nick (James) and Chris (Jones).

"We don't really miss a beat when we come in.

"Everybody trusts each other and that makes it easier to do your job."

Jefferson reports with no drop off in talent or ability between the two Bulldog defensive lines, it makes it easier to go all out when players are on the field.

"I think that's been the biggest thing," said Jefferson of the rotation. "Preston has to get a lot of snaps, but having someone come in behind him and picking up where he left off just helps him stay fresh and play all of those snaps.

"We keep rotating and it keeps us fresh. We're out there wearing other people down."

The Bulldogs have an open date this weekend that will allow the players to go home for some rest and relaxation with their families, but Jefferson will still be close to the action.

The talented edge attacker will keep a watchful eye on the Bulldogs' next opponent, Texas A&M.

"I am going to go to my high school football game first and then I am going to sit down and watch Texas A&M play against Arkansas," said Jefferson. "I am going to catch every college game I can get this weekend.

"I am really anxious to get back out there and compete."

"As far as numbers go, they have the #1 offense. I think the whole group is ready to get back out there and play.

"They are a lot different than a lot of the other teams that we've played this season.

"They want to spread you out and throw the ball around. Coach Turner said they were averaging about 460 yards passing and 220 yards rushing or something like that.

"It will be different and it will be a new challenge for us, but we're ready to get out there and play again."

While fans are still talking LSU, Jefferson and the rest of the Bulldogs have moved on.

Their focus is on the future and the Aggies of Texas A&M.


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