If anything this complete change of opposing offense has handed Mississippi State’s cornerbacks coach his most unique scouting-and-scheming challenge of 2014. When Townsend watches Georgia Tech, he sees a gameplan that will keep Bulldog cover-men on their toes in every possible phase during the Capital One Orange Bowl.
Because, it isn’t called a triple option for nothing.
There are some aspects shared with spreads or pro-sets or whatever else the Bulldog defense has seen in the regular season, Townsend points out. “Like most offenses, we have to do a good job setting the edge, making sure the ‘force’ guy does his job. But with this team they do a good job of cutting so we have to use our hands well. And we have to always come up with support. We have to have good eyes.”
Their leading receiver is out, and you don’t have a lot of film on the other guys? “You look at the quarterback, how he likes to throw the ball, look at where he wants to locate the ball, those types of things. And for those guys (receivers) it’s going to come off play action. They run the ball so well that we have to do a great job seeing our key and taking our time in our pedal, and making sure we do the right things while we’re out there covering. But they have some good guys, big receivers. They like to throw it up, go back-shoulder. So they do a good job with their offense.”
How difficult does this offense make things on your cornerbacks? “They’re good at what they do. For us, every week for us is a challenge. They throw it enough to keep you off-balance in what they want to do. So it comes down to one-on-one matchup. No matter what week it is, it’s always going to be a one-on-one matchup outside and guys just have to go out there and win.”
Your cornerbacks are good tacklers in the run game, how is it different tackling against this offense? “I think for the most part it’s still an out-in-space game. They want to get you in space, want to spread you around. The thing they do a great job of is getting you off your key. So one thing we’ll talk a lot about, in my room especially, making sure we take our key and take care of our responsibilities. If you have the pitch, take the pitch; if you have the quarterback, take the quarterback. Those are the type of the things that if you don’t do that, that’s how they beat you.”
How do you think your cornerbacks played in the regular season? “I think they did what they’re supposed to do. Each week we improved, we made critical plays in games. We tackled well, that’s always the biggest part for me. And I think overall as the season went along we played the deep ball well.”
“Week-in and week-out guys give up passes in the SEC, that’s just part of it. You know how the rules are made to give up points! I think for the most part of the ones we gave up they were contested. And we can grow from that. That’s something we want to do, we don’t want to give up MA (missed assignment) type of big plays. And I think for the most part we did that. And the ones that were contested, that just comes with getting more reps and making plays.”
Talk about the younger cornerbacks and the redshirts, you’re getting them more snaps in bowl camp? “And that’s the great thing about bowl practice. You get a chance for guys that have been serving on scout teams and you haven’t had the time to coach them up on their techniques and things of that nature. But now you get a chance to get back into teaching them to play, making sure they’re taking the proper steps, making sure their fundamentals are right.”
”So guys like Jahmere Irvin-Sills and Chris Rayford, it’s critical for them to grow up quick. Especially when you’re losing a Jamerson Love next year and you’re going to need somebody to step up and play. So these practices right here are the most important for those guys to go out and show the coaches that they will ready to play next year.”
How has Rayford been in practice? “He’s done fine. A big, physical corner, he can get up and press. And that’s going to be his strong suit, being physical. He’s a bigger guy. And you have to have that in this league when you face guys like Bear (De’Runnya Wilson), you have to have guys that have some size and strength and can go out there and play.”