Steve Robertson/Genespage.com

Mississippi State defensive end Ryan Brown talks about his team's upcoming game on the road at Auburn.

Mississippi State enters this weekend's SEC tilt with the Auburn Tigers looking for an important SEC road win. Senior defensive end Ryan Brown knows that Jordan-Hare Stadium is a tough place to play. Brown and the Bulldogs have worked all week to prepare for a stiff challenge on the Plains.

"Last year, going into the game it didn't matter what opponent we played," Brown said. "We came out looking to prove that we were the best team in the stadium. That worked for us last year, so we're looking to do the same thing this week in preparation, practice and film study."

Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff like to use a lot of motion and provide some false looks in an effort to get defensive units to tip their hand a little early. Brown reports that playing disciplined football is the name of the game when you line up and play the Auburn Tigers.

"Auburn is a team that likes to use a lot of eye candy," Brown said. "They like to use a lot of motion and a lot of stunts. We are just going to try to play our defense and just make sure that we have everything sealed up with no errors and no seams. That's just our mentality going into the game."

The Bulldog defensive alignment varies from play to play depending on what the offensive unit shows in their pre-snap read. What may look like a Bulldog out of position on the snap is often a schematic move based on solid film review. 

"Sometimes it's just about us adjusting to what they give us," Brown said. "We're just trying to defend against what we have found on film. Just about everything we do is based off of film study."

Mississippi State and Auburn both run variations of the spread offense. While each team puts their own spin on things, many of the fundamental elements are the same. Brown reports that seeing the Bulldog offense every day in practice provides some familiarity with what Auburn likes to do at times.

"We both run similar offenses," Brown said. "We do a lot of the same motions and we both like to use the jet sweeps to get to the outside. Coach Diaz always preaches to us to set edges and pursue. We just have to do those things and trust our teammates to be there if things turn back."

Mississippi State has a pair of talented corners who have shown a real knack for tackling in the open field. When things get a little weird out there, Brown reports that Taveze Calhoun and Will Redmond are disciplined players who carry out their assignments.

"They are both great tacklers," Brown said of the senior duo. "There aren't too many guys out there like them that hit like linebackers and always wrap up when they get ready to tackle. That really just adds on to the trust factor. I don't have to worry about them trying to chase everything down. They are going to set the edges and then turn everything back into us. They're head hunters."

Gap responsibility and staying in position will be a big part of the Bulldog defensive mantra this week. Brown reports that Mississippi State defensive line coach, David Turner, has been consistent with his message all week in practice.

"Coach Turner has told us all to just be calm and play our game," Brown said. "He wants us to do our job on every play. You can't get too hungry when somebody else is making all of the plays. They might pick and choose each gap each quarter. We can't get eye hungry and jump out of gaps, because our time is going to come.

"He preaches to us about staying in our gaps and take all of the air out of the seams. If we do that against any team, then we will be alright."

The theme of the moment appears to be about team trust and gap integrity. Brown reports that these standards are unique to the Mississippi State unit.

"That's really the case with every defense," Brown said. "Great defenses have a trust level that is on another level. Last year, we had a great defense and that was one of the key points. Everybody has to be where they are supposed to be.

"When you get the trust level to a higher level, you can play at a higher level and you can play fast. That is what great defenses have and we have worked on that all week long. I feel like we've really made some great strides with that this week. The first three games showed us some things and we were able to really pinpoint those things and correct them."

Things really seem to click for the Bulldog defense as the third quarter of the LSU game began. The team began to play with some real fire and took the fight to the LSU Tigers. Brown believes the Bulldogs grew up a bit during the halftime period of that game. 

"We had some issues in that first quarter," Brown said of LSU. "We had some young guys trying to get the feel for it. Coach Mullen told all of us to take a deep breath. He said we had all made some mistakes and he wanted us to come out in the second half like we had started the game over. 

"We cleared our minds and our bodies. Some guys took their pads off and some guys took their shoes off just to refresh themselves. Our mentality when came out of the locker room was attack, attack, attack.

"In order to win, the team has to trust the defense to do their job and we have to trust the offense to score. That's what happened in that second half and we've seen that evolve since then. That half should people what we really are and what we need to be on every single snap."

The Bulldogs and Tigers will tee it up Saturday night at 6:30. ESPN2 will carry the broadcast, The Tigers are currently a 2 point favorite.


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