Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State sophomore safety standout Brandon Bryant expects another war with the Bayou Bengals

Even casual fans of college football will agree that the LSU Tigers are a running team. Coach Les Miles and his staff do not shy away from who they are. The Tigers love to physically dominate and use their size to pound opponents into submission. Mississippi State safety Brandon Bryant understands the importance of playing the run, but his personnel group has to be disciplined lest the LSU quarterbacks make a big play via the play action pass.

Last weekend, Mississippi State righted the ship with a convincing win over South Carolina, 27-14. The Bulldog defense hit the field with something to prove and shut the Gamecocks out in the first half. The Sunday morning sun rise seemed much brighter this week as compared to last, but the Bulldogs still have a bit of a chip on their shoulders.

"We are not satisfied yet," Brandon Bryant said. "One win is just one win. We are focused on the next one now. We just have to keep building the intensity up and practice and keep going everyday."

The "next one" could come on the road this weekend at LSU. Bryant will be taking the field at Death Valley for the first time as a college football player. As a redshirt in 2014, Bryant got a taste of what to expect once the Tiger faithful get going.

"Games like these make legends," Bryant shared. "It's personal to me to go out there and execute at a very high level. I have to do what I have to do, read my keys and tackle the ball carrier. We have to get the ball carrier on the ground and make plays on defense."

The Bulldogs have a chance to begin the SEC slate with a 2-0 record. While many prognosticators penciled in a win for the Tigers this week back during the summer months, that pending result no longer seems so certain.

"It all starts from within," Bryant said. "All of us are focused on the right thing and going down there and trying to get a win, because we know that we can do it. Our goal is to play with high intensity and be physical all night long. We want them to feel us every down."

In week two, the Mississippi State defense did a much better job at the point of attack. Tackling was a strong suit in the win over South Carolina. While progress has been made, Bryant believes the best defensive efforts lie ahead.

"Our effort was a lot better," Bryant shared. "We had 11 hats going to the ball almost every play. Everybody stressed that in practice last week and everybody got the ball during the game. When you saw one helmet going to the ball, nine or ten others were on their way too. We emphasized effort all week in practice and when we got to the game everybody did a good job of getting the ball carrier on the ground."

The LSU story is written in the blood and tears of opponents who have given their all mentally and physically to slow down the Tiger running game. While slowing the running game down is priority one, Bryant reports that the Bulldog safeties have to be aware that the Tiger passing game is more than capable of taking some big shots down the field.

"We are drilling that down hard this week," Bryant said. "You just have to be slow until you know. When you know, you have to react the right way. We are looking at film and studying and learning what they like to do. That can be pretty simple, but we know it's going to be a physical game and we have to come out ready to play hard every single down."

It appears that Miles and the Tigers will start junior transfer Danny Etling against the Bulldogs on Saturday night. While returning starter Brandon Harris and Etling both have their own strengths, Bryant reports that LSU runs their offense no matter which quarterback is barking the signals.

"We're expecting (Etling) to start before Brandon Harris does," Bryant said. "He's a pretty good player and he can make plays. He may not be a runner like Brandon Harris, but he can make plays. He can throw the ball and he runs the offense well.

"LSU is a big play oriented team. We have to be able to minimize the big plays and just keep playing hard for 60 minutes."

The trip to Baton Rouge is the first road test for the 2016 Bulldogs who split their first two home games and hold a 1-1 record. With the taste of an SEC win fresh in their minds, the Bulldogs are eager to get back onto the playing field in search of another conference victory.

"I was ready to get back on the field and play Sunday night when we had practice," Bryant said. "We just want to keep going. One win is not enough. We have to win multiple games and keep playing Mississippi State football like we did Saturday. 

"We are getting everything down. It's about following what you're supposed to do. Coach draws up a good scheme and they get everything right. We just have to go out there and execute."

Kickoff is set for 6 PM. The Bulldogs and Tigers both enter the contest with identical 1-1 records. The game is the first on the conference schedule for LSU, while the Bulldogs have a 1-0 mark in league play. 

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