ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 01: Johnthan Banks #13 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs breaks up a touchdown reception by Malcolm Mitchell #26 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
All last year I watched Mississippi State's cornerbacks play 8-10 yards of the receiver all year. It drove me crazy. Was it just because of the uncertainty at linebacker or just a strict philosophical bend but don't break mindset? Chris Wilson's defense gave up a 64.5 completion percentage from opposing quarterbacks. Despite this, they only gave up 197.2 yards per game - good for 27th in the country.
Chris Wilson has stated that his philosophy on defense is to "stop the run and don't let them throw it over your head". Clearly he did that last year. Allowing only 19.7 points per game was 4th best in the SEC, a conference known for defense. This is good because when they had to Mississippi State held. They didn't give up big plays - top 5 in the country in plays over 30 yards allowed. But they also allowed teams to drive the ball on them.
Not getting off the field quickly does a number of things that are detrimental to your success: 1. less plays for the offense, 2. wears out the defense, 3. gives up valuable field position.
For the Mississippi State defense to take the next step I believe they need to play bump and run coverage. They need to produce the same results but create more chances for the offense with more plays and better field position.
In the NFL, no wideout gets off the line of scrimmage without tangling with the corner. When you watch Alabama play, they are up on the receivers. Well, you can't tell me State doesn't have the cornerbacks to play on an island with the best WRs in the SEC. Johnthan Banks, Corey Broomfield and Darius Slay highlight a group that is stacked with talent and experience.
With experience in the linebacking corp for 2012 State should be able to rely on them to make the necessary tackles in the running game without help from the DBs. Charles Mitchell having 90+ tackles from the safety position the last two years is not what we want. The safeties need to be playing back in coverage to prevent the big play rather than coming up to make tackles.
If the corners can play bump and run effectively, they should eliminate the short passing game that is always there for the other team. When the opposing quarterback feels like he can throw a bubble screen or a two yard pass to pick up 4-5 yards on 1st down he's going to do it. And 2nd & 5 makes things a lot easier than 2nd & 10, or even 2nd & 8 if they ran the ball on 1st down.
There are several ways to look at this philosophy. On one hand, sitting back and waiting on the opponent to make a mistake and making sure they don't pull off any big plays is a solid strategy against the weaker teams. But if State ever wants to have a chance against LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, etc, they need to play bump and run.
One of the problems with playing a team like Alabama or LSU is that they will just wear you down. If State goes 3 & out and then the defense allows them to get two first downs, you just lost at least 20 yards in field position. If this could have been avoided by playing Banks and Broomfield on the line of scrimmage, then why not do it? When they play the whole game on your side of the field it's just a matter of time before that D breaks.
It's time to play bump and run. It's time to bow up. Let's go from good to great in 2012.