MSU de­fense looks to come out strong after bye

Starkville Daily News - - SPORTS - By JOEL COLE­MAN sports@starkvilledai­

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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Cleve­land, SDN) (Photo by Ja­son

Mis­sis­sippi State de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Gran­tham, mid­dle, looks out onto the field dur­ing an ear­lier game this sea­son.

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