Manny Diaz Laying The Foundation

Manny Diaz's defenses are known as attacking and very aggressive. They simply require the defensive players, especially the defensive linemen, to go as hard as they can to get to the ball. That seems simply enough. But then again, maybe it's not as easy as it appears to be.

"They are still learning, still learning the scheme," said the Mississippi State defensive coordinator. "And they are also learning the standard we have here and what a championship defense is."

Something the MSU defensive players have not quite learned.

"We are not nearly as good as we think we are," said Diaz. "Our results right now show that we aren't nearly as good as we think we are. There is no one in the SEC that is worried about playing the Mississippi State defense. And it will stay that way unless we change the way that we operate."

Diaz explains how that can be changed.

"We are trying to get our guys to understand that we have to do thing differently," explained Diaz. "We have seen what the same gets us. So, it's a different level of strain in practice, a different level of the way we come off the ball up front. They aren't intentionally fighting it but in some ways they are fighting it."

He explained what he means by the players fighting it.

"In some ways it's easier and in some ways it's harder because they really have to give in and let their body go," said Diaz. "You think it would be easier than it is but you are trying to break habits, breaking the way they have been taught. And a lot of times it's thinking too much. They are playing careful, like they are playing not to make mistakes. We have tried to encourage them. Let's just go and make things happen. And we are getting there. It's just a process that they have to go through."

And it's not just young players making the adjustment. Even the veterans are having to make them.

"Even our most established players are probably making mistakes that they wish they weren't making at this stage in their career," said Diaz. "We are asking them to do things in a different way. We are all learning."

And the learning process will continue not only the rest of the spring but during the summer and in fall camp.

"All we can do is lay the foundation in the spring," said Diaz. "If we can come out of spring ball with a little bit of the ground floor built, then they have to take it and build on that. Then, we will pick it up in fall camp and try to take it to another level."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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