Thursday, 28 October 2021
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Baker’s D-Line Dogs must “Play to Potential”

His unit has everything that a defensive line coach could ask. Talent, winning experience, star power, leadership, tested depth, and enough aggressive youngsters to keep everyone on their toes.

Yet Brian Baker isn’t letting himself or his unit take anything about preseason practices for granted. That comes across clearly in his comments about the state of Mississippi State’s defensive front a week into camp. Baker is pushing these Dogs to play up to both their great potential and maybe greater 2018 expectations.

How have these first days of practice gone for your unit? Baker: “Good. Good, I’m really pleased with the way we’ve progressed from spring ball. Some of the guys that I wasn’t really happy with at the end of the spring, they’ve come ready to work and I’m happy with them now.”

With such an experienced unit is it about fine-tuning and details now, because you know they can play? “Yeah. It’s the details, because it’s a new defense.”

“In the spring we’re teaching them scheme and different techniques that’s required for this scheme of defense. Now they’re used to lining up and playing the way they’re supposed to play within the scheme of the defense. And it’s good to see them practice the way they are.”

Gerri Green should thrive in his senior season assignment as defensive end (Photo: Gene Swindoll, Gene’s Page, 247Sports)

How have the guys handled switching back to more of a four-front? “Good. In spring it was slow because of the style of play previously. Some of them had to walk before they could run. But right now they’re all running.”

It’s a deep group, how do you manage dividing up the reps? “That’s the challenging part. You know, of making sure especially the top two groups get enough work, and you’re also developing the bottom half of your group so that those guys get a chance to realistically compete for the depth.”

“You’ve got to take care of a lot of it in individuals, and in group work with the o-line, and get what we can during team.”

How are those groups set right now in terms of first, second, third lines? “It’s competition for all of them. Everybody is fighting.”

Is it a good problem to have? “It’s a great problem to have!”

Do you script the snaps before practice so as not to get caught-up watching some guys get more snaps? “Absolutely. That’s exactly how I handle it. Before we go out there we go over the rotation and tell them before practice what we’re going to do and how we’re going to rotate. And get on and off the field pretty quickly.”

How have Gerri Green and Marquiss Spencer developed with a hand on the ground? “Good. I mean, Marquiss is built like a defensive end. He’s a big kid. So it was just a matter of him understanding the tempo of what happens, particularly when he’s playing B-gap techniques and that kind of thing. But he’s adjusted well.”

“Gerri is one of the guys I was talking about, that has progressed really well since the spring. He’s doing things better than he did in the spring. I think it was really different, particularly for him. When I got here three years ago he’s an inside ‘backer and an outside ‘backer. Then the following year outside backer only.”

“Now, he’s a defensive end. So he had a lot of different things on his table. But he’s been handling it pretty good this summer.”

Are you mixing guys right and left? “I’m mixing all around.”

What do you think of the young guys so far? “I’m impressed. I mean we’ve got a good class and I’m excited about our class. They all have different skill sets. But they all have shown the different ability to do some things. A couple of them actually a little better than what I thought they were going to be.”

“But it’s a lot of depth in front of them right now. So what I try to do is get them to walk before they’re ready to run and get them to a point they can realistically compete with those guys in front of them.”

What did Chauncey Rivers prove in practices last fall? “Well, Chauncey proved it last summer, really. That had he been eligible he would have played quite a bit for us. He hasn’t been disappointing up to this point.”

With your NFL experience just how good is this group, how much potential do they have? “We’ve got potential to be pretty good. But we have to play to that potential.”

“All those accolades, particularly for Jeffery (Simmons) and Montez (Sweat), they understand that was last season. All that stuff means you played good last year. We’ve got to go as a group and those two guys individually have to play better than they did last year. Or in my mind it’s a failed situation.”
“So that’s their challenge. They understand that challenge, so far they’re practicing that challenge and I’m happy where they are.”

Is this great timing to change the scheme to a four-front in a year you have bodies to use in it? “I mean, when we were in the 3-4 we had the same amount of bodies. It was just that some of them were outside linebackers. Getting guys on the field to perform that part was just in different roles.”

“I think this scheme more so than anybody else has helped Montez. You know, we played him as a lot as a defensive end, in the previous scheme has playing inside the tackle. Although he did obviously a phenomenal job as All-SEC first team, that’s not what his body is built for. His body is built for an edge guy and this gives him a chance to do that.”

Source: https://247sports.com/college/mississippi-state/Article/Mississippi-States-2018-strong-point-is-a-defensive-line-with-talent-experience-and-depth-120546487/

The Bark Box

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