Brown, Bulldogs Adjusting to Spotlight

For the second straight week, Mississippi State is the consensus #1 team in major college football. With the designation as the top dogs, these Bulldogs expect to get everyone's best shot the rest of the way. The transformation from hunter to hunted is a new role for Dan Mullen's squad, but to hear defensive end Ryan Brown tell it, the Bulldogs are becoming comfortable with their new found fame.

"We saw a lot of this in the summer," said Brown of the extra media attention. "When the SEC network people were coming around here, they were all in our faces with cameras.

"They had their little All-Access thing.

"We thought it was going to be all crazy, but Coach (Dan) Mullen had a meeting with us that Wednesday and he talked with us about all of that."

Mullen is no stranger to cameras and the distractions that increased media attention can bring. The sixth year coach used the SEC Network experience as a teachable moment.

"He told us that this is what you have to expect when you win," said Brown. "You gain attention from winning and this is what winning teams feel like.

"It's really not that bad."

"I am not getting a haircut for nothing now. It's really fun."

The Bulldogs enjoyed a bye week this past Saturday as they rested and repaired themselves after a huge win over then #2 Auburn.

The Marrero, Louisiana product reports that the Bulldog fans created a winning environment.

"It was really fun out there," said Brown of the game day atmosphere. "The crowd made it electric.

"It was so loud that I couldn't really hear with the linebacker was telling us on some plays. Sometimes we had trouble getting the right call."

The linebacker doing most of the "calling" was Florence, Alabama star Beniquez Brown who has really come in this fall during his sophomore season.

"He's giving me the answer like we're taking a test," explained Brown. "He (plays) a vital role in our defense. He's the brains behind the brawn.

"I call him the smartest linebacker in the nation.

"He watches so much film, that it's second nature to him. I really appreciate his studying and I look up to him for that."

"He picks up things fast, fast, fast. It's not just run or pass. It's real specific. It might be the book play or the husker play or the power."

When the Bulldog defense was put in some tough spots during the contest, the group was able to answer the call due to the confidence they have built over the course of the season.

A huge first half goal line stand at LSU allowed the unit to realize that they had the makings of a special season.

"That point set the tone for our defense," explained Brown. "We were all looking at each other on the sidelines realizing just how good we could be.

"LSU's crowd was just shaking their heads and it was so weird, because they were nodded us on.

"It was awesome, because we were going to the sidelines and they were like 'Ya'll are the real deal' or something like that."

A week later, Geoff Collins' defense made a high flying Texas A&M look rather pedestrian.

Through three SEC contests, the Mississippi State D has made their opponents extremely uncomfortable.

"Our big thing is just put the ball down," said Brown. "No matter what time, distance or situation were in, we always have a spot that we just put the ball down and give it all we got.

"If 11 people give all they have, then you're only going to be on the field for a maximum of three plays."

The Bullies have been especially stingy when opponents have reached the redzone.

Mississippi State is second nationally in red zone defense, trailing only Temple.

Brown reports that the preparations for locking down the goal line in those up close and personal situations took place long ago.

"All of that started in training camp," said Brown. "We started doing red zone at the end of practice.

"Whoever loses the red zone has to run gassers, so you didn't want to be the team to run the gassers at the end of practice.

"We made that a point of emphasis. We had the same mentality of don't cross the line or you will get tackled.

"We try to make it fun out there and know the down and situation that we're in. We need to know how much time we have on the clock, how many inches or how many yards they have to go. We just want to try to get a negative yard play."

The Bulldogs have not had to dial up a lot of exotic blitz packages this season thanks in large part to the pressure generated by their four down lineman.

Despite the adjustment, State is recording more tackles for loss and more sacks this season.

In fact, the Bulldog defense ranks near the top ten in both categories nationally and second in the SEC in both statistical columns.

"We had a lot of pressure on us before," said Brown. "There was a lot of blitzing and we had to drop into coverage.

"It's helping us out that we can do what we love to do, which is pass rush.

"That says a lot about our coaching staff too."

While Brown is enjoying his team's success, #48 would like to carry more of the load when it comes to getting the opposing quarterback on the ground.

"I would like to be more productive in the pass rush," explained Brown. "I've missed some sacks and Preston (Smith) is getting them. It's really a competition to see who's going to get back there first.

"It's really like a race and it's fun.

"We're like little kids trying to get back the candy first.

"We just want to get better at all of that every week and just have fun out there."


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