Coach Geoff Collins -- ScoutTV

After LSU and Texas A&M, what changes this week? How has your defense been able to adapt so quickly? “Probably the biggest thing is we have so much experience and so much depth. When you have an All-American at mike linebacker, and his backup is the national defensive player of the week, you know it helps to have that kind of depth in order to roll guys through and play at a high level.”

“They’ve seen a lot of different football; i-back, spread. Coach Malzahn’s system is one of the best in the country so just being able to adapt week-to-week to those systems, I think it’s the experience that those guys have.”

How much does it help going up against State’s own offense too? “Yeah, and there’s a lot of similarities. Both have big, physical offensive lines, great receivers on the perimeter, big-time tailbacks. And a quarterback on both offenses that makes everything happen, runs the ball really well and makes great decisions in the throwing game; that can get the ball to his play makers. So the similarities are there, so we understand it’s a big challenge. We’re excited to go up against Coach Malzahn and that offense.”

What do you take from last year’s success against them defensively? “The big thing is understanding the run-fits. They do a great job running the football. I think we did a decent job defending the run last year and understand that was early in the season. And as the season went on it started getting more and more and more powerful, then in the SEC Championship Game I think they ran for 500 yards, something like that.”

”So we understand how talented they are. We understand how good they are, and the scheme is one of the best in the country. So we have our work cut out for us and we understand that.”

Is this kind of a redemption for how last year’s game ended? “Every game is a big game for us so we understand that we get out there on Saturday afternoon we have to play hard, we have to run to the ball, we have to be physical, we have to fit-up the run. And defend the deep ball.”

Last week your defense took away the underneath passing game, what does that say for what the linebackers and line did? “Yeah, somebody said a stat, that we had ten pressures which they had only give up four all season. I think we had four sacks, they’d given up three. So that was a big emphasis. And I think the DBs did a great job of giving the pass rush time to get there.”

“We’ve made a big emphasis on protecting the deep ball, not letting anything get thrown over the top of us and forcing the underneath throws and give our d-line time to work. I the defense did a great job of that.”

How rewarding was it to see one of your guys, Richie Brown get those three interceptions? “And further they’re all our guys, we love each and every one the same. The funny thing about Richie is the very first day I got here Richie Brown’s tape was the first one I watched. Coach (Rockey) Felker brought me the tape the first day and said watch this kid from Long Beach, see what you think about him. Coach Felker was in love with him and I think the Bulldog nation is (now), the three years he’s been here. He’s a quality individual, highly intelligent, great student, hard worker. You can’t say enough positive things about Richie Brown and I’m lucky I get to coach him.”

Is it any surprise that with how Richie and Beniquez Brown are playing that Benardrick McKinney is almost slipped into the background? “I don’t know about Benardrick McKinney slipping into the background! He’s 6-5, 256, I think he’s pretty noticeable! But I think the thing that’s neat is the person that was happiest for Richie’s success was Benardrick McKinney. And that’s huge. That’s a guy that for all intents and purposes they compete for the same spot.”

“But Richie is Benardrick’s biggest fan, Benardrick is Richie’s biggest fan. You don’t see that everywhere, I think that’s a neat thing that we have in our room. Same thing with Matt Wells and Zach Jackson, Beniquez and Turtle (Christian Holmes), I think at almost all positions. We play so many guys, they know they’re going to get their reps, they know they’re going to get their time to play. So they embrace it when somebody else gets to shine and makes big plays. Will Redmond had a great game Saturday; Jamerson Love, Taveze Calhoun, Tolando Cleveland were as happy for Will making those plays as they would be for themselves.”

Are Richie and Beniquez ahead of schedule in terms of being sophomores? “That’s a great question. And I kind of think they’re right where they need to be. The program that Coach Mullen has set is all about development Dez Harris right now is on the same plan that Richie and Beniquez were on: play on special teams, do a great job on special teams. You see Dez, he’s the first one down on every single kickoff. The first one down, at 6-3, 240. So the development of the player within the program is huge. Beniquez and Richie played a lot of special teams, then they start playing a lot on defense. Now they’re playing at a high level on defense. One of the biggest plays of the game Saturday was 4th-and-1, we had just turned the ball over in our territory. We put the ball down, came up with a huge fourth-down stop and that was Beniquez Brown. They checked the play, Beniquez knew where they were going to go with the ball and ran back there and made a tackle for the loss and got them off the field.”

”Those little things make you proud as a coach because there’s certain things we might not have even covered but they’re operating at such a high level that they can make those plays. So I’m just lucky to coach those kids.”

Why does the Malzahn offense work? “I think he’s a great play-caller. And obviously it’s a great scheme. It’s a lot of missdirection, at the heart of it is a power-based, physical attack. So they play really physical, they play hard, they play really sound. They attack every single spot on the defense. That’s hard because if you know where something is going to go you can kind of load up. Against their system, they can hit on the perimeter, they can hit you downfield, they can hit you underneath, they can run inside, they can run outside. And they can run misdirection. He knows what to do with the football and has kid with some experience and confidence that they know what to do. All that put together makes them who they are.”

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