Linebacker Now Taking Big Bite Out of Viper Position

It comes down this football fact. The great attraction of playing a position is simple to Gerri Green. “It’s getting after the quarterback. That’s something a defensive player loves to do, so you don’t want to turn that down!”

So no. Green is not turning down his preseason opportunity to test himself at the new ‘viper’ spot schemed-up by new coordinator Peter Sirmon. When Mississippi State opened camp Tuesday, there was Green working in unfamiliar territory.

“It’s something we talked about doing in spring. But in fall camp is where I really finally start getting reps at the viper position.”

Because up to now Green, a third-fall sophomore, has repped at linebacker. At middle linebacker specifically. It’s the role he was recruited for and can handle very well, thank you.

But it’s also the job filled for now by preseason all-SEC senior Richie Brown. So. How to get a big, fast, physical, and aggressive mike-man more than just backup snaps this season? Let’s give viper a try.

“I just feel I’m doing whatever I need to do to get on the field,” Green said. “Richie is an incredible player. He’s made a name for himself at mike, the playing time he gets he deserves. I’m just trying to get to where he is in certain sets and find my way on the field.”

It doesn’t hurt having the coordinator as his position coach, either. Sirmon devised the ‘viper’ for a combination of defensive packages. It can be a defensive end-type player and in run schemes that seems to suit. But in pass rush/cover situations?

Hello Mr. Green. And Mr. Trevor Jung as well, and a couple of other long, fast linebackers with as much muscle as many ends but more speed to attack off the edge.

“Yeah, that’s fun!” Green said. “Everybody wants to get after the quarterback. So any time I have a chance to do that I’m all for it. I love playing mike, too. But any time you can come off the edge I’m all for it.”

Now Green admits, it’s not always rushing the passer but chasing a receiver. And coverage is not his strongest point, or wasn’t as a mike linebacker. “But as long as we use our technique we’ll be OK.

“That’s something I worked on all summer, sometimes even walking down with the DBs and doing drills with them and working on technique. It’s something I’ll have to work on but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.”

Yeah, a 6-4, 250 pound defensive back would be a sight. But more often Green would find himself attacking. Besides, he said two whole years working at middle linebacker gives him a better perspective.

“Yeah, I feel it helps me know what’s going on all across the defense. Just knowing if the ball is going inside; outside at the viper I know where the ball needs to go and what to do on the play.”

Jung’s longer (if only 15 practices longer) experience at viper ought be an early advantage in this camp. But it isn’t taking Green long to get the competition going and in the first two practices he was sharing the first-team snaps.

And who knows? Between them and other young, gifted linebackers on the roster, maybe Sirmon figures out some additional 2016 packages?

“I feel I’m not the only guy that can do it,” said Green. “In camp you’ll see a lot of guys that are going to be moved around. I feel that adds another dynamic to it, that so many guys can play different positions.”

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