August 10, 2010

Bulldogs return experience on defense

Mississippi State has seen its share of defensive coordinators come through the program recently.

In fact the Bulldogs are in their fourth consecutive season with a new coach calling the shots on defense. But Dan Mullen hopes the hiring of co-coordinators Manny Diaz and Chris Wilson will bring some stability on that side of the ball for years to come.

Diaz is the main mastermind behind MSU's new attacking style of defense which is something that Mullen saw a need for after last season with Carl Torbush at the helm.

"That's kind of my mentality offensively so I thought it would be a good match to bring in somebody that really had a similar mentality to defense that I have on offense when I was a coordinator," Mullen said. "Manny is not afraid to think outside the box and try new things. He will blitz you from every different direction. He does that while we are still very sound defensively. He does it to try to cause issues for the offense. He puts the offense in uncomfortable positions where they have to come out of what they want to do."

The Bulldogs bolster one of the top defensive lines in the Southeastern Conference. State returns five players with starting experience on the defensive line in defensive ends Nick Bell, Pernell McPhee and Sean Ferguson along with defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd.

Mississippi State also has its share of quality depth on the d-line with Trevor Stigers, Johnathan McKenzie, Devin Jones, Jeff Howie and James Carmon also in the rotation. The Bulldogs also have several incoming freshmen that are capable of making an impact as well.

"The depth on the defensively line is much better than when we got here," Mullen said. "We still need some defensive ends that we feel comfortable in the rotation. Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd got a lot of experience last year. Devin Jones is one of the hardest workers on the team inside. We went and added Jeff Howie and James Carmon as mature, older players from the junior college ranks. We have some good depth at the tackle position but we are still developing that depth at defensive end. Pernell McPhee is really the leader of that defensive line so having him there at the defensive end spot, we need him to have a huge year for us."

MSU will have to find a replacement for their defensive leader Jamar Chaney at linebacker. Senior Chris White has shifted inside while K.J. Wright still holds down his weakside linebacker spot.

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