MSU defense looks to come out strong after bye
Mississippi State has had over a week now to sit and stew.
After beginning the season 3-0 and looking more than formidable on the defensive side of the football, the Bulldogs gave up 80 total points to Georgia and Auburn and entered this past weekend's bye week on a two-game skid.
As MSU prepares to return to action Saturday against BYU, State head coach Dan Mullen says his defense is ready for a reset.
“We had the opportunity to get back to some basics and take our time on some of the basics of stuff,” Mullen said of his defense's work over the bye week. “We just spent time on the guys' basics, communication, talking and comfort level of making plays.”
Several glaring holes showed up for MSU in its losses at Georgia and Auburn.
The most glaring change from the season's opening three games was the way State's defense was sometimes abused. Georgia put up 404 total yards. Auburn accumulated 511.
Both teams reached those totals, in large part thanks to plays that ate up big chunks of yardage.
“Some of the big plays that we're giving up are missed assignments,” Mullen said. “Defensively, if a guy goes the wrong way, there's a gap there. Sometimes it might not get exposed on a play and you might get away with one. The offense just called a play to not take advantage of it. Other times, they do. If they find that gap and there's nobody standing in the middle of the field when they're supposed to be, it's a pretty easy throw and catch for a touchdown.”
Mississippi State will try to get back to limiting the big plays starting Saturday. The good news is, BYU doesn't boast the firepower of a Georgia or Auburn. In fact, the Cougars have been putrid offensively, giving MSU's defense a good opportunity to get its feet back under itself.
BYU is ranked 127th in the country in both scoring offense and total offense. The Cougars are 120th in rushing offense and 116th in passing offense.
Even with BYU's struggles moving the football, MSU defensive coordinator Todd Grantham isn't taking anything for granted as he seeks to get the Bulldogs back to their early-season selves.
“They are a downhill running team,” Grantham said of BYU. “They have the zone element, the zone cut, gap schemes, power and counter.
“Passing-wise, there's a lot of West Coast flavor to what they do as far as spots on the field and always being able to work back to the ball with your
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Mississippi State defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, middle, looks out onto the field during an earlier game this season.