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October 3, 2013

Collins' D Sees LSU Balance, Hopes to Contain the Tigers

Forgive defensive coordinator Geoff Collins for saying similar things every week about the upcoming challenge that the team might face but it's a common think with this Bulldog D when facing some offenses that are more than tough to defend. This week provides no relief as MSU welcomes one of the more balanced offenses in the country. It's one thing to stop a one-dimensional offense like Troy, Collins has multiple threats to stop.

"They're very big, very physical, they do a great job in the run game and (Zack) Mettenburger is playing really well right now. I think he put on a show last Saturday night. It's a huge challenge for us because they have a big offensive line, huge running backs and a quarterback that can manage the game and make some great throws. I think they've gotten better. The more you watch them the better they get."

Mettenburger has been the glaring difference in LSU this year as to years past because of his development as a quarterback. The Tigers are no longer just a run it down your throat type of offense. With solid receivers and a smarter quarterback with passing ability, this is a tough match for State to try and contain.

"They're very dynamic and balanced. They can run the ball with the best of them, they're one of the best running teams in the country. The way the passing game works and the receivers they have; they have two of the best receivers in the SEC. Jeremy Hill is a great running back and each of the guys in the four deep have had 100-yard rushing games. It's a great challenge for us, we're excited for it and it's going to be a great night Saturday night."

With Mettenburger at the helm and a solid coordinator in Cam Cameron, Collins see opportunities for explosion out of the offense that nearly threw for 400 yards last week against Georgia.

"He's got a lot of confidence in his receivers and they're big-time playmakers. He knows where to put the ball. Coach Cameron has done a really good job with him showing him where exactly he needs to go with the ball and he's got some good receivers that can go up and get it and convert."

MSU has had a similar quarterback in Tyler Russell that the defense gets to see every day in practice. Going through reps against him and the physical receivers that he possesses himself have Collins a bit more optimistic than usual, but he said that they won't know until the game is kicked off at Davis Wade Stadium Saturday night.

"Tyler's a big-time quarterback and we've got some good receivers on this team so we see it every day on third down against our offense. It's a big challenge every day just going against those guys and that prepares us. But going out there on Saturday under the lights in the stadium, we'll see how we respond on third downs."

The Bulldogs are coming off of a bye week which was crucial in getting some injured pups back on track and ready for Saturday. Another thing that the off week did was allowed MSU to prepare for a different style of offense that they have yet to see this season. Collins sees it as a huge positive and needed to prepare for a top-10 Tiger team.

"For us, we've seen eight weeks of shotguns, spreads and four wide. So to have two weeks of working on stopping the I-back run was huge for us. We'll see Saturday night when they line up with that big fullback and tailback and that huge offensive line is coming down hill on us. At least we know how to fit it."

One of the things that the team really delved in to was focusing on getting LSU off of the field offensively. LSU maintains their possessions by keeping themselves out of third-and-long situations. Collins said the key is to force them in to those situations.

"The big thing that we always try to do is stay away from third and short. Preparing for LSU, you watch the third-and-short cutup and it's very long. The third and medium is long, but the third-and-long is just a couple of plays. They make sure they gain three to four yards on every play so they can execute at a very high level. The goal is to live in third-and-long and then when we get there, get off the field. That will be the big challenge on Saturday night is third down."

Now all that remains is game day coming in two days when the Bulldogs finally get back on the field at home. There's not one thing that he feels they can shut down, but he hopes his defense can keep them from doing what they like to do. All he can ask for is relentless effort from his players.

"Hopefully you can try to take away everything, but they can do it all. They line up in I backs and with two-tight ends. We just have to have players buy in to what we want to do and get lucky I guess. We want to try to fly around and make a lot of plays."

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