Brown Taking on Bigger Role

Now the man in the middle of the Mississippi State defensive scheme, Richie Brown has had to become a quick study when it comes to the Manny Diaz defensive method. With just two practice sessions left this spring, Brown believes he and his defensive mates have a good grasp on things. While the alignments and pressures may change, as Brown says playing defense is playing defense.

Richie Brown profile

With former Bulldog middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney now awaiting his professional call in next month's NFL draft, Brown has been promoted to first team designation. Playing several snaps each week last fall, helped prepare Brown for the time that he would be the man making the call.

"There is really not a whole lot of new stuff," Brown said. "Last year we rotated a lot. Some weeks it would be 50/50 and others 60/40, but for the most part I was getting plenty of playing time last year. I was in a leadership position. I was still in charge of the same guys. Really the only thing that is different about all of that is that me and Benardrick don't share that leadership now.

"It's on me, Beniquez (Brown) and Zach (Jackson) to manage everybody. We don't have those guys from last year to help us with all of that, so there is an increase in leadership from all of us."

As some of the "old" dogs have moved on, a new crop of talented Bulldog backers are joining the program as capable reinforcements. Redshirt freshman Gerri Green has been among the standouts during spring practice. Brown likes what he is seeing from the younger guys who are eager to make their own contributions.

"We have some young guys who are learning a lot out here," Brown said. "At first, we were all learning a little bit. It's all the same stuff. Defense is defense, but we all had to adjust at first. The younger guys are taking a little longer to process things, because they are just gaining some experience. They are all doing really well. They've shown a lot of improvement over the spring.

"The speed is a lot faster for them now. They're having to make plays against the '1s'. The '3s' from last years are now '2s' and the '2s' are '1s'. Everybody gets a little faster when you make that step."

Battled tested by college football's toughest league, Brown reports that a veteran group of Bulldog backers have been able to focus their energies on learning the nuances of the Manny Diaz scheme.

"Coach Collins and Coach Diaz are both unique," Brown explained. The have their own techniques and they talk about different aspects of the game. Coach Collins was more of an anticipator and he had a different angle to coaching. Coach Diaz has his own style too, but they both have the same concept that defense is defense. You have to go do your thing and not think so much. They like to simplify things. They emphasize a lot of the same things, but their scheme is different."

Brown has learned some new terminology and some different things philosophically. At the end of the day, it is all about getting to the football.

"It's been a little bit of work," Brown said of adjusting to a new playbook. "The blitz packages are called something different, but they are all similar to a blitz package that we had. They may call it something else and have a little different technique, but it's really all of the same stuff. It took some time to get used to that, but I think we're all good with that now."

With spring practice winding down, Brown the rest of the defensive unit are working to get things settled as they get into off season conditioning and film review.

"Right now, we're working on getting everything wrapped up," Brown said. "We're not perfect with it. If there is one thing that we're struggling with, we want to correct that in these last two practices. We are preparing to get our work done and prepare to get into the summer and all of that work.

With a talented group of returning players who saw serious snaps in SEC play, Mississippi State fans have high expectations for the Bulldog linebacking corps. Brown says that he and his peers embrace those expectations.

"We feel great about all of that," Brown said. "We have all played together before. We have all confidence in each other and we all made plays all of last year. We love those guys who moved on, but it is time for us to develop and become those guys now. It is time for us to increase our game play."

Gene's Page Top Stories