Bulldogs Look to Stay 4th Quarter Fresh

The Mississippi State defense has recorded 47 tackles for loss this season. That total is good for 11th nationally and second only to Tennessee in the SEC. The Bulldog defense is well ahead of the 2013 pace, which yielded 74 in thirteen contests a season ago. Sophomore defensive end A.J. Jefferson has recorded a quartet of personnel stops behind the line of scrimmage with plans for even more.

The Bulldog pass rush has certainly improved this season. While many of the familiar faces from a year ago return, the production this year has increased a great deal.

Jefferson believes familiarity with the scheme and having some solid seniors to follow has aided in the team's progress this fall.

"Coach (David) Turner preaches every day that we have to work together," said Jefferson. "We have to set our pass rush lanes.

"I am used to Coach Turner's coaching. This is his second year with me.

"Having guys like Preston Smith, he's a great pass rusher. Watching him play, I think that helps out a lot."

The Bulldogs have been splitting reps on the defensive side of the ball every single week.

The now well known "1A" and "1B" defensive scheme is working for Mississippi State.

"People have been talking about it all year," said Jefferson of the rotation. "As soon as Preston gets tired, I can come in.

"Nelson (Adams) can come in. Chris (Jones) can come in.

"We know we can go as hard as we can for three plays, four plays or however long we need to go. We know the guy behind us can come in and pick up."

Having several guys to share the physical demands of playing defense has helped the team stay fresh deep into games.

"I can't honestly tell you that I have seen a game where I can look beside me and see Preston exhausted or Ryan exhausted or Kaleb (Eulls) exhausted," explained Jefferson.

"They are going to be exhausted after going hard for a play or two, but in the fourth quarter everybody is still fresh.

"Last year a couple of guys would get exhausted."

The 1B front four is made up of sophomores Jefferson, Chris Jones, Nick James and Nelson Adams.

The group is having the chance to gel together as a unit this year, which bodes well for 2015 when the Bulldogs will look to replace three starters on the two deep along the defensive line.

"It gives us a lot to build on for next year," said Jefferson. "We still have a bond with the first group, but I think with all of us being together it makes us closer."

The Summit, Mississippi product reports that David Turner's troops like to keep things interesting on and off the field.

"I'm kind of the goofy one," said Jefferson. "I'm all over the place. Ryan is the more level headed guy. He's more serious and Preston is sort of in between.

"All of that brings a lot of character to our group.

"There is never a dull moment in our meeting room."

The position mates found out just how close their bond has become when they went home last week and spent the weekend wishing they were back on the playing field together.

"A bunch of people had to go home and see their families," said Jefferson. "The biggest thing about getting a break was that we came in on Monday ready to practice and everybody was fresh.

"I think it's safe to say that everybody was (ready to get back). We talked about it in the DL meeting room before we went out to practice.

"I was sitting there talking with Ryan Brown and he said that he got kind of sad on Saturday sitting there watching games on TV.

"He said he was glad to be home and get a little break, but he missed it. I think we all did.

"Everybody was eager to get back out there."


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