Steve Robertson - Genespage.com

Mississippi State corner Tolando Cleveland talks about taking over the starting role at corner.

Mississippi State junior corner Tolando Cleveland made his first college start in the season opener against Southern Miss. Cleveland spelled senior Taveze Calhoun who was held out of the contest as he recovered from a medical procedure. As fate would have it, Cleveland would be forced into the starting role later in the year when Will Redmond was lost for the season due to an ACL tear. With four starts under his belt, Cleveland is making a positive contribution.

Cleveland has started three consecutive SEC contests, but opponents have not found a lot of success on his side of the field. The Atlanta, Georgia product reports that he is simply doing his part to help Bulldog foes out of the end zone.

"I am just doing my job," Cleveland said. "There are always plays to be made. I am just trying to make more plays. I am just working on making my plays and helping the defense and the team overall."

While Redmond is no longer a part of the active roster, the talented senior remains engaged with the Bulldog corners in attempt to help in any way possible.

"His presence helps us," Cleveland said of Redmond. "He is an older guy, so he has some wisdom from being there and playing. He can comment on certain things, because he knows what to look for. He knows what to say to help us out. That's his role now and he helps us all out a lot."

Arkansas brings some unique challenges to this weekend's contest in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks enjoy using the tight ends and working a lot with play action. Cleveland reports that film review is a big part of the Bulldog preparations.

"Film review is always big time, but you have to get a jump on these guys," Cleveland said. "You have to know what they are going to run when they get in this personnel group. We know that they will try to run some trick stuff. We have to be prepared for this game."

Offensive production has increased in recent weeks for Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 4-0 since their bye week, including a pair of overtime wins over SEC Western Division teams. 

Cleveland reports that it has taken a lot of work to pick up on the nuances of the Arkansas offensive scheme.

"You have to practice everything," Cleveland said. "Everything that they have shown, we have really gone over from this season and last season. That's really what we have been working on to get ready for this game."

The Bulldog defensive staff has worked hard to install a game plan in hopes of slowing down one of the SEC's top offensive units. Cleveland reports that come Saturday it will be all about execution.

"I am very confident," Cleveland said of the Bulldog scheme. "Those guys (coaches) go in the lab and they come out with something great for us. It's going to end up being about us going out there and competing and handling business. I am confident in our game plan."

Job one will be tackling. Cleveland has shown some tremendous progress this season as an open field tackler. The junior corner plays opposite Taveze Calhoun, the emotional leader of the defense. Cleveland has worked hard to match Calhoun's level of intensity over on his side of the field.

"That's really the kind of player that I am," Cleveland said with a smile. "Growing up as a player, I have sort of grown into some of that too. I try to have a swagger out there. That's just what I do."

The Bulldogs will take their final true road trip of the 2015 schedule this weekend when they travel to Fayetteville to take on the Razorbacks on campus for the first time since 2003. Mississippi State will host Ole Miss next weekend in regular season finale. That contest was announced as a sellout weeks ago.

ESPN will handle the broadcast duties this weekend at Razorback Stadium. Kickoff is set for just after 7 PM.


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