Here is the MSU excerpt from Saturday Down South’s anonymous coach speak feature.
“I’m thinking they [defense] are pretty good, or at least a lot better. On defense, they just aren’t as athletic as the top teams. Our defensive big guys were bigger than some of their offensive big guys. They can get pounded up front. Linebackers are average athletically. I think schematically they are always going to put up some points. It all depends on whether they can put up a defense that can stop people. It’s not effort, they just don’t have the guns…The quarterback, Tyler Russell, I think most people like him – he can be a little erratic but has some natural ability. He didn’t play very well against some of the better teams teams in the league. But he’s a good player.”
I’m going to beak this down line by line in hopes to add my thoughts and make it more insightful for MSU fans.
I’m thinking they [defense] are pretty good, or at least a lot better.
I agree. Our scheme will be an improvement over last years with Geoff Collins at the helm.
On defense, they just aren’t as athletic as the top teams.
I agree to an extent. They aren’t ultra elite as far as athleticism but they are plenty athletic enough. The read and react scheme didn’t compliment athleticism and was a big part of this issue.
Our defensive big guys were bigger than some of their offensive big guys.
MSU doesn’t have a freakishly huge OL. They are long and move well but aren’t maulers outside of Gabe Jackson. The spread scheme doesn’t suite the guys that can’t move, hence MSU has a slimmer OL. Through smart blocking schemes their athleticism can make up for a lack of size. Miss direction and screens can keep a powerful DL from just bulling ahead. In obvious short yardage situations this could still be a concern but I expect this to be the best MSU OL since 2010.
They can get pounded up front
The only teams that I see this as a concern are Bama and LSU. Lets face it, everyone gets pounded by these 2 to an extent. Doesn’t mean it’s an automatic loss either.
Linebackers are average athletically
We all knew Cam Lawrence’s value wasn’t being bigger,stronger, and faster. Deonte Skinner played out of position at weak side LB. Benardrick McKinney is a freak but was a freshman. I’m sure he was doing too much thinking, especially with the scheme. I expect him to take his play to the next level this year. Skinner is much better suited for strong side LB and is a major upgrade athletically at that position next year over Lawerence. Matt Wells is arguably the most athletic guy on the team, so that is no concern on the weak side.
I think schematically they are always going to put up some points.
I agree with this as well. In 4 years Mullen’s offense is putting up an average of 27.4 points a game in the SEC West which isn’t too shabby. Not earth shattering but better than they’ve done in recent years before his arrival. Scoring more points against the top SEC teams is desired though.
It all depends on whether they can put up a defense that can stop people
This will ring true this year. If the defense can make stops and force turnovers, they’ll be ok. Collins strives for negative plays which should lead to more 3 and outs. They had specifically struggled with spread teams so that will be what to watch this year.
It’s not effort, they just don’t have the guns…
I think they could play with more effort and fire this year. I also completely agree with needing more guns. MSU’s offense needs some guys to step up as explosive playmakers badly. I think the most potential to create more explosive plays are at WR (Jameon Lewis, Robert Johnson, Joe Morrow, Brandon Holloway, or Fred Ross).
The quarterback, Tyler Russell, I think most people like him – he can be a little erratic but has some natural ability. He didn’t play very well against some of the better teams team sin the league. But he’s a good player.
Most preseason articles talking SEC QB’s have showed Tyler some love. It’s deserved and I honestly think he has much more ceiling he can reach. His career arc really reminds me of Jason Campbell, all the way from high school to college. Campbell’s SR year is when he really took off. Against the top teams he did struggle as did the rest of the team. He needs to find that next level where he can elevate the guys around him. He also needs to work on his consistency as this coach said. Tyler was in the zone for the Tennessee game but was beyond erratic for Ole Miss and Northwestern. One thing about Tyler is that I have 100% faith that he will use his subpar performances as fuel to improve this offseason.