Veteran Holding His Own Against Trio of Talented Youngsters

He has not changed his academic major. Kivon Coman remains officially listed in kinesiology. So let’s just say that this spring the Bulldog senior is getting a minor in languages. Not foreign; football.

“Because if you want to play on the next level you’ve got to talk all languages.”

The lingo Coman learning this senior spring comes from the fresh faces on Mississippi State’s coaching staff. Coman and his fellow safeties are now under Maurice Linguist’s (verbal irony, huh?) instruction. Bidding farewell to long-time mentor Tony Hughes wasn’t easy, yet the transition—or translation—has been oh so smooth per Coman. Along with the rest of the Dog defensive staff who have a hand in helping the safeties.

“It’s pretty good because he came from somewhere totally different. So hearing him, Coach (Terrell) Buckley and Coach (Peter) Sirmon talk about how defense is run, it’s good.”

So, Coman adds, has been fitting into Linguist’s concepts. The differences are subtle to be sure; safety play is safety play just about universally in college football these days. “It’s really the same thing.

“We’ve playing sort of the same coverages as last year, it’s just a little tweak. So we can adjust to it. We’ve got young guys trying to learn it but it’s still pretty good.”

The spring has gone good for Coman himself. As to be expected. This is a 13-game starter in 2015 after all, and the team’s third-leading tackler. Coman made 76 stops behind only Richie and Beniquez Brown, intercepting one ball while breaking up seven more.

“I was satisfied with certain stats. But overall I could have done way better. Tackling, attacking the ball more. Just being quicker on my feet technique-wise.”

All this was as the free safety, as defined by Hughes. The new position coach? “He’s got me playing both,” Coman said. “He’s got the rest of everybody else playing one side. Because he knows I can play both sides.”

Coman is in an interesting senior spring situation. Yes, he’s the ranking veteran of the safeties corps. That isn’t giving the old Dog much margin with a trio of outstanding athletes battling for the open job. For that matter, either job since at this point the defensive staff considers all spots up for grabs.

So far Coman is holding his first-team place with sophomore Brandon Bryant at strong safety. Right on their cleat-heels are true sophs Mark McLaurin and Jamal Peters. The youngsters mean no disrespect…but they want to be first on the field this fall.

“They’re freakish,” Coman calls the kids. “They’ve still got a little freshman in them but overall they’re going to be great players for Mississippi State.” And, sooner over later. Meaning Coman can’t miss a step between now and opening day. That’s fine by him.

“We’re all competitive, man. Right now we’re not even looking for starters. Whoever makes the most plays, that’s who is going to play.”

Saturday morning is play-time for all healthy Dogs. The spring game concludes camp, and also serves as something of a ‘rubber game’. See, the first Scott Field scrimmage on April 2 was a clear win for the defense in general and the secondary in particular with a series of interceptions and forced fumbles.

A week later? It was the offense’s or rather offenses’ turns to shine as the first, second, and third units all executed and scored…and had no turnovers of any sort. Though, Coman claimed “They weren’t really throwing it deep at all!”, implying no quarterback was willing to test the secondary.

Really though, Coman said, it was an example of one side learning and adjusting in one week. This has been the defense’s turn. “We tweak it also,” he said, showing that offenses and defenses arrive at Scott Field this weekend wanting to win.

Regardless, “A lot of fun” is what Coman expects from his final spring game. “Seeing old players come back is always good,” he added. Right, about that…for the past few years a spring game tradition has been the ‘Boobie Play’ with at some second-half point Anthony Dixon jumping off the sideline waaaay downfield for an open catch and ‘touchdown’ run.

It’s good fun for all to see of course. But Coman hints that a few current Dogs are tired of playing patsy.

“This year…I’m thinking about tackling him, for real.”

That comes clear in any lingo.

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