Coordinator Emphasizing Spring Energy While Finding Fits for Personnel

Sure, the Bulldog defense puts lots of speed on the field these spring days. Those guys on the sideline aren’t exactly slow, though…including the guy now in charge. “When we do things well on defense, it’s been a point of our staff to celebrate,” coordinator Peter Sirmon says.

Because when Mississippi State defenders made a big play in Saturday’s scrimmage, Peter Sirmon got to the end zone about the same time. That’s not just his own personality, the new Bulldog defensive coordinator explains.

It was Sirmon’s side of the squad doing most of the first scrimmage celebrating. Led by safety Brandon Bryant’s three interceptions, the Bulldog defense came up with six total turnovers and held the first, second, and third offenses to six touchdowns, and a couple of field goals, in about 30 total series.

Every defensive unit made the day miserable for all four Mississippi State quarterbacks, not just putting pressure on in the backfield but with usually-sound coverage. To be fair, the offense was missing it’s top two receivers with injuries and doing much mixing-and-matching of quarterbacks with teams. So there was never much chance for any offense to get in some sort of rhythm or consistency.

At the same time, it was a good showing by all three defensive crews. Only Aeris Williams got a lot done running the ball, for example. And of course there was Bryant’s 97-yard interception return for touchdown, which sent Sirmon dashing down the sideline nearly matching pace with the safety.

It’s the attitude Sirmon likes to share with his squad, he said, as an entirely-new defensive staff gets used to a team re-learning an emotional approach to play. And, a lot of new lingo these four fresh coaches have brought to campus.

Sirmon is encouraged how the defense has translated a lot of their teaching into action, so far. But there’s so, so much left to do before the spring game. For a huge example, “We’re using a lot of words that mean sentences,” Sirmon explained. “We rarely give the front, the stunt, and the coverage and alignment.

“Ten years ago you’d signal in an entire sentence and what everyone’s responsibilities were every play. We’ve replaced those with words. We’ve got to be able to communicate quickly. Today when they (the MSU offense) got first downs they were on the ball and rolling. You have to be able to communicate and get lined up and give yourself a chance.”

All those words will get learned though. If not by the end of spring, certainly by mid-August. For now? The word when these Dogs make a defensive play is, party!

“There’s enough challenges and enough things that are hard to play on defense, that we will have plenty of time to improve on,” Sirmon said. “When kids do something well, I think we need to celebrate it.”

Watch Saturday’s full video interview with defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon.

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