Knox Pleased with Bulldog Backs' Effort

The Mississippi State ground game has proven to be one of the top rushing attacks in the Southeastern Conference. Led by Heisman front runner, Dak Prescott and fellow Bayou Stater Josh Robinson, the Bulldog ground and pound has been tough to contain. Dan Mullen's team is averaging just over 264 yards per contest, which ranks 12th nationally and second only to Georgia in the SEC.

One of the men most responsible for the Bulldogs' success running the football is running backs' coach Greg Knox. Under Knox's direction, the Bulldog ball carriers have taken a huge step forward.

Knox is please with the group's progress, but still sees some room for improvement.

"They're getting better," said Knox after Monday's practice session. "I think we're doing some good things, but we still have a long way to go as far as improvement.

"I think we're off to a good start."

The Bulldogs are currently 6-0 and ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches' Poll.

The bell cow in the running backs' meeting room has to be #13 Josh Robinson who leads the team with 689 yards rushing.

Robinson's robust yards per carry average, 7.03, is more than a little impressive.

Knox believes Robinson is beginning to mature into the player that he always knew he could be.

Robinson's relationship with quarterback and running mate, Dak Prescott certainly helps the talented junior when it's his turn to carry the load.

"I think Josh has taken on a new role with Ladarius Perkins moving on," said Knox. "Josh has worked hard and he's benefiting from it.

"I also think having Dak there helps build his confidence.

"It's one of those things that just helps to make sure he's doing the right things."

Never short on confidence, Robinson came to Starkville from Franklinton, Louisiana always expecting to be the guy someday.

Knox reports that Robinson's belief in himself has only helped him become one of the top running backs in the SEC.

"It's a good thing," said Knox of Robinson's confidence. "You always want to have confidence in your ability and I believe he's always been confident.

"I think he's gotten smarter over the years, which has only helped him gain even more confidence."

There is a lot more to being a running back in the SEC than some realize. It is not just flash and dash. There is some really grunt work that goes into being a well rounded back with or without the football.

Knox reports that he has seen his personnel group take some positive strides in facets of the game that don't show up in the stat sheet.

"On blitz pick up we've been pretty good," said Knox. "We certainly want to continue that.

"Blitz pick up is part of what we call playing with great eyes.

"If you know what to expect before the ball is snapped, then you have a great chance of picking up the blitzer.

"As long as we're playing with great eyes, we have a chance to grade out high in that area."

The Bulldog rotation at back has allowed for Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert to both take turns at spelling Robinson. There really is no set pattern for when each back gets his chance to carry the football.

"You know it can change every week," said Knox the substitutions. "I tell my guys each week that I never know how many plays they are going to play.

"They don't know when they're going to play and how many plays they are going to play, so I tell them to always be ready.

"All I really care about is that when they're in there that they do their best.

"The main thing every guy needs to do is execute their assignments and I want them to grade out 100%.

The Bulldogs enter this weekend's road contest against Kentucky fresh off of a bye week that allowed the team to rest and recover.

Knox reports that the Wildcats bring a unique set of challenges.

"They are a good solid defense," said Knox. "They have good size and they have good speed in the secondary and speed at linebacker.

"They have a couple of kids at the defensive end position that are playing really well for them. They have a lot of size and speed all over the defense. It's another week against another good SEC defense."

The #1 Bulldogs game in Lexington, Kentucky is set for a 2:30 kickoff and will be nationally televised by CBS Sports.


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