Expects a Winning Season and a Bowl Game

For most, summer time is a chance to kick back and collect your thoughts for awhile until the hustle and bustle starts all over again in August and September. But for college football players, nothing could be further from the truth. A good example is Titus Brown, a Mississippi State junior defensive end.

"Well, I've got school, lifting and then started working a part-time job," said Titus Brown. "It's not really tiring but very time-consuming. But I guess I will be helping maintenance, you know, helping move furniture into dorms and things like that. It will keep me in shape, that's for sure."

Not to mention Yoga class. That's right Yoga.

Instead of participating in karate like State's football players did last year, Brown and his teammates have tried something new this summer.

"It's mainly a relaxing way of stretching in my opinion," said Brown. "I just go with the flow. I guess Coach Croom knows something about it and it being good for us. But, I just don't know. I do like it better than karate, though. There's not too much kicking going on in football on defense."

With two years of SEC experience under his belt, the 6-foot-3 and 245-pound Brown has getting more and more comfortable on the Bulldogs' D-line. In his first year as a true freshman, Brown started five games at linebacker and showed the usual ups and downs of a collegiate rookie.

But last year, Brown made the move to defensive end, a position he quickly admits is much harder and demands more mental toughness and physical toughness.

Yes, he had some struggles at defensive end and naturally his numbers dropped. In 2004, Brown finished his rookie campaign with 59 tackles, three and half tackles for loss and one and a half sack. Last season, Brown concluded his sophomore year with 30 tackles but still managed to get in the opposing backfield with five and a half tackles for loss and one and a half sack.

"When I was at linebacker, things came to me easier because that was all I've ever played in my life," said Brown. "When I made the transition to defensive end, it was very hard those first couple of days. I knew right away you couldn't slack off on any play.

"But then it made me work harder, pay attention harder and do all the little things harder. It made me do everything better and work harder. Last year, playing (at defensive end) gave me a better chance at pass rushing and I saw what the position was like. I expect to improve each year, and keep critiquing my moves and I should bring a lot more to the table this year."

But Brown notes that he wouldn't trade playing as a true freshman for anything. Instead of redshirting and getting his reps on the practice field, the Tuscaloosa, Ala., native was thrown to the wolves and came away better because of the early opportunity.

"The best experience is game experience," said Brown. "I mean, you get better in each practice and try to move forward. But there's nothing to come close to facing it on the field. In practice, you go against the same person and you get to know the moves and techniques.

"But when you are going against Florida, Alabama and LSU and those guys in the SEC, you don't know what moves are coming every time and you see different techniques. Being able to go through that as a freshman really helped me more than anything."

This year will seem a little different at first with former All-SEC performer Willie Evans not in the mix. Brown acknowledges the loss of Evans but is very upbeat about who's back for the Bulldogs at the coveted defensive end slots.

"Losing Willie was a great loss because he was a great athlete," said Brown. "But we've got myself, Michael Heard and Quinton Wesley, all of who are just as fast and just as big. We are under the same coach, Coach (Brick) Haley, and he's teaching us the same things. Don't get me wrong, now, Willie was a great player. But to us, it's more like we lost a little depth but not much talent overall."

In 2005, the Bulldogs defense held firm at times, only to fall victim late because of the lack of offensive support, receiving an average of a mere 13.9 points per game from the offense.

But Brown has been checking out the new guys on campus, offensive players who were brought to Starkville to increase the amount of points and, more importantly to the defense, offensive possession time.

"I know Coach Croom has brought in two good guys on the offensive line," said Brown. "Michael Brown (Florida transfer) and J.D. Hamilton (junior college transfer from Co-Lin CC) have been working out with us and I know they look like they will have a big impact. I know Michael is trying to see if he can play this year and all. But those two look like they can help the offense be solid.

"But we have to be clicking on all cylinders. We can't have offense one game and no defense and then no offense but have good defense. We all have to be on the same page and clicking as one team."

With a combined six wins in his first two years with the Maroon and White, Brown makes no bones about he predictions for the 2006 edition. He expects the Bulldogs to finish with at least six or seven wins, which would give the Bulldogs their first winning season and bowl invite in six years.

"We are going bowling," said Brown. "I guarantee that. We've got to have six or seven wins and get that winning season. We've got almost everybody back up front on defense and have a lot of experience everywhere. We had a lot of young guys play last year, on offense and defense, and that's only going to make us better this year."

Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at pjones@cdispatch.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories