Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State defensive line coach David Turner talks about his team's preparations for North Carolina State

Mississippi State learned that they were headed to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Belk Bowl to take on the Wolfpack of NC State. Defensive line boss David Turner is very familiar with the area and the Wolfpack program after spending some time there as an assistant early in his coaching career. Turner spoke with the media about his thoughts heading into the contest.

"My first memory is that I met my wife there," Tuner said of Raleigh, North Carolina. "That's pretty good, well it is right now. 

"I grew up an NC State fan. I went to games there, a bunch of games. There were a lot of great players that I saw there, Ted Brown and the Bucky twins. It has a lot of memories and it's home for me. I have coached there twice, but for this game there is no question where my allegiance is. My allegiance is with the Bulldogs, but it will be fun to go back home and get chance to play against those guys. 

"It will be good to be in Charlotte. I actually went to Davidson, which is right outside of Charlotte, so I have a lot of friends and family that want to come to the game. There aren't a lot of opportunities for my family to see us play in person, but it's a great opportunity for us."

With so many friends and family in the area, Turner expects the demand for for tickets will be high when it comes to fans and those acquainted with him on a more personal level.

"I have a lot of classmates and high school classmates that went there," Turner said of NC State. "I have heard from a lot of people. I could probably use close to a hundred tickets for this game, but believed me I won't have a hundred."

As a youngster growing up cheering for the Wolfpack, Turner had several fond memories of his time looking for big wins in his home state as a player and coach.

"I think it might have been in '76," Turner reminisced. "It was a Penn State game. There was a field goal in like a 9-7 game. You know as a kid growing up and having a chance to go to games like that and then having a chance to coach there it was a great feeling. My only regret is that my father didn't live long enough to get the chance to see me coach there. It was a great feeling and truly living a dream for me."

Bowl practices allow coaches to be a bit creative with their personnel grouping. Without the demands of game planning early on in bowl prep, Turner is working his younger players into team drills with more regularity to see how they respond.

"We're doing some mixing and matching," Turner said. "We're trying to find the best place for those guys. We're really trying to get them a lot of reps and get them prepared. The biggest bonus of having the chance to go to a bowl game is getting these extra practices, which is really like an extra spring practice for so many of those young guys. They need all of the work that they can get. We're just trying to move them around and see what is going to be the best spot for them and get a jump start on spring."

Bulldog defensive lineman Chris Jones has done some moving around throughout his career at Mississippi State. The Houston, Mississippi native is considering declaring early for the NFL draft and bypassing his senior season. Turner reports that Jones' decision about his future will be one that he has to make for himself.

"He has to make an educated decision and it's a family decision," Turner said. "I really don't worry about that until the season is over and then we will sit down and talk. I want what is best for the guys. Those are things that we will discuss once the season is over.

"We will look at it and we will talk about it, but that's not my decision to make. 

"I think there is no question that probably in the last five of six games that he played that he played different. He played like he is capable of playing. He is more consistent in practice and he's last five or six games, it showed. His production was up. He was making a bunch of plays.

"You know in a perfect world, Chris is a redshirt sophomore and you're looking at him thinking he's getting ready to have a great junior and senior year. Everything is a little accelerated right now, but there is no question that he played well in the last half of the season."

In the more immediate future, Turner is getting ready to close out the 2015 campaign without senior defensive end Ryan Brown. While the Bulldogs will miss Brown's experience and talent, the unit has some players who can and must step up to fill the void.

"We have Jonathan Calvin and we have Will Coleman, so we have some options there," Turner explained. "We still got A.J. (Jefferson) and we played a lot of guys, so we'll see.

"I hate it for Ryan. He doesn't get a chance to play in his last game, a bowl game, and go out the right way. We're going to play with eleven, so we wil run another guy out there for sure.

"Will has played a lot of football for us and sometimes it's not all bad sitting out. I think you probably get a little more hunger for the game. He's played a lot and hopefully that's part of the progression. That's all we talk about every day, just work at your craft and try to get a little bit better every day."

One player who is expected to play in the Belk Bowl and on into next season is defensive tackle Nick James who has taken some quality strides as a junior. Turner appears pleased with the maturation of the talented big man.

"He has made a lot of progress and he's clock is ticking too," Turner said of James. "I don't know if guys ever progress as fast as you would like them to as a coach, so that is where patience really comes in.

"He has made some real progress. He really has, so hopefully we can keep him going. These practices will be vital and then get him on into spring and hopefully catapult him on into a great senior year."

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