MSU defensive coordinator talked briefly with Gene's Page after the Wednesday morning practice."> MSU defensive coordinator talked briefly with Gene's Page after the Wednesday morning practice.">

Coach Cooper Discusses His Defense

<img src="" align="left" width="126" height="160"> MSU defensive coordinator talked briefly with Gene's Page after the Wednesday morning practice.

What were things you noticed about your defense after watching the scrimmage film?
"I thought that we played well up front and stopped the run well. There were not many missed tackles. Usually, in the first scrimmage, you see missed tackles. I thought when they ran the ball we had everybody going to the ball. The only thing I think that we need to work on is we need to make sure our guys understand a couple of blitzes that we are running because we had a couple of busts. What they need to learn is who's the deep guy and who is the short guy and who they are supposed to take. Other than that, everything was good."

You have so many redshirt freshmen and true freshmen playing. Do you feel like they understood what to do?
"I think they definitely understand what we are doing. For a first scrimmage, I felt like the mental busts were slim to none. In fact, I don't remember our first unit having one bust. Our second unit busted a couple of things coverage-wise and our third unit busted several. What I mean by busts is they should have been here or there. I feel mentally they have gotten it. We just have to continue to get better, stay healthy and get some younger guys ready to go."

I noticed Quinton Culberson was playing first-team cornerback today. Has he been moved to the first-team?
"Quinton is a good player and one whose attitude brings a lot to the table. To say he will start in the first game, I can't say that but he is pushing to. He definitely is on the depth chart. His attitude is positive. He likes to play the game. He adds a little bit more flair and cockiness to the guys out there. He can play and he can back it up. I'm pleased with him right now. He has gotten better and better everyday and he understands it mentally, so he is going to be able to turn it loose a lot easier."

Deljuan Robinson looks to be improving daily.
"Deljuan is probably one of our top freshmen D-linemen. He was a linebacker in high school. Now, we have moved him to D-line. He is a guy who at 290 pounds can play at either defensive end or defensive tackle. I've very excited about him. I think he plays the run really well, but he has to become a better pass rusher."

Is it true that you and Coach Blake feel like this is the best freshman defensive class that you have ever been around?
"I have never been around a better group than this. The group of guys that have come in, there is not a bust in the crew. Everyone of those linemen, linebackers and DBs can play. If we have to play them all this year, they could play. I've never seen a class like this."

Do you get on your knees and pray every night, thanking the Lord for sending them and you to Mississippi State? (laugh)
"(Laugh) I've thankful for it. There's no doubt. (laugh). The future looks real good, but the future is also right now. We have to respond and get it done right now."

Based on my observations, 8 of your 13 defensive linemen are freshmen. I know their talent level excites you, but does it also concern you a little bit since they are brand new to the SEC?
"It does, but I think we have some guys that can hold up. We have a great group of upper classmen. It's really funny, because we have a big break. We have a great group of upper classmen and (a great group of) young kids. There's not many in the middle. There's Roosevelt Tate and Markell McKinley, but they were here in the spring. Then, we have a group of seniors (Lennie Day, Jason Clark and Tommy Kelly) and one junior (Ronald Fields). We have an older group that is teaching the younger group what to do, but the younger group is definitely talented enough to get it done."

You mentioned Roosevelt Tate. How has he done during the preseason practices?
"I am pleased with him. He has done everything that we have asked of him. He plays defensive end in our nickel defense and I believe he can even move in and play tackle. He is definitely a plus for us."

The last time we talked, you said you had 15 of the 22 players that you were looking for on the two-deep depth chart. How close are you to finding those other 7?
"We are probably pretty much where we need to be. We know who is at D-line. We know who is at linebacker. We are still waiting to settle the secondary. We have the guys in the depth (chart), but we are trying to figure out if we can play them at any time. We have a few more guys who have to prove that to us."

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is You can contact him by emailing

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