Johnathan Calvin made the move from defensive end to the Viper position during the fall as the Mississippi State defensive staff worked to mix and match to get their best eleven defenders on the field at one time. Calvin reports that seeing success in an SEC contest has only made him more confident.
"I feel like I was able to play faster and do less thinking," Calvin shared. "I feel like I am my best when I just play. I just need to be myself. I can't be out there thinking. I have to be intense and just go out there and play hard every play."
About his first sack of the season, Calvin said he realized that it was a huge early moment in the ball game between the Bulldogs and Gamecocks. The Murrah High School product wanted to be sure that his team won the early battle for momentum.
"I feel like that play got our juice going," Calvin said. "I feel like it picked everybody up and kind of got everybody going. I hadn't had my hand on a quarterback in a while, so it felt good to get my first sack. I've missed a few since I got here, so I wasn't going to miss that one."
Calvin worked hard in practice and in film study to prepare for that moment long before it presented itself. The talented senior reports that what he saw on film showed up during the game.
"I studied them the whole week," Calvin said. "I watched a lot of film. What you see on film is what you're going to get in the game and that is exactly what I got. It felt good. Even though this is only my second year here, I have some of these young guys look up to me. They expect me to perform and they expect things out of me. I have to be able to do that every week."
With an SEC win now in the books, Calvin and the Bulldog defensive unit has turned their full attention towards this weekend's match-up with LSU. The Bulldogs have been hard at work all week in an effort to prepare for their first road trip of the 2016 season.
"You know LSU likes to run the ball. LSU is going to be LSU," Calvin said. "We know it's going to be a head to head game and that we are going to have to come out and play physical. I believe both teams are going to come out and play very physical. I believe the team who wins is going to be the one who wants it the most."
The Tigers have a lot of moving parts to their offense, but by and large it is a plug and play scheme. Les Miles and his staff are going to play Tiger football no matter which quarterback calls the cadence and no matter which running back carries the load.
Calvin believes that the Bulldog defensive unit will be able to come out and match LSU from an intensity stand point.
"We have to keep our intensity up," Calvin said. "We have to play fast. We can't have anybody out there thinking and guessing. That's what we have practice all week for. If you mess up, then you better mess up going full speed. We know it's going to be an intense and physical football game."
The Bulldogs opened the season with two games at home and will now take the Maroon and White show on the road for the first time this year. Calvin reports that road games require a different mindset and sometimes he actually prefers the "Us against the World" mentality.
"I know for me personally, I think I'm better without all of the attention," Calvin said. "I like to just sit and focus and not have to worry about everything. I am ready to get down there this weekend and give relentless effort. I just want to play and play to the best of my ability and get a win this weekend."
Mississippi State (1-1) and LSU (1-1) will tee it up at 6 PM Saturday. ESPN2 has the broadcast duties as the Bulldogs look to win their second straight at Tiger Stadium.