Mississippi State defensive lineman Kaleb Eulls (92) is moving from DE to DT this season.
March 28, 2013 6:10:42 PM
STARKVILLE - After the first day of practice in shoulder pads, The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog decided to watch pay as close attention as possible to junior defensive lineman Kaleb Euls and his move from defensive end to defensive tackle.
Eulls mixed in where he lined up last year depending on the scheme under then-defensive coordinator Chris Wilson but is primarily being asked to focus on defensive tackle this spring or as he calls it 'being in the phone booth with a double team'.
I'll have a feature in Thursday's Dispatch where I discuss the transformation of Eulls from a 250-pound high school talent from Yazoo City to a 290-pound defensive tackle with athleticism to still get vertically up the field.
"My concern about playing defensive tackle is just being able to handle a double from lineman in the Southeastern Conference," Eulls said. "Coach (David) Turner makes sure to simplify everything so the gaps are the same and so I feel I know the playbook but I'd like to think I can do what I did last year even though I'm in a more confined space."
As a redshirt freshman Eulls saw time at both defensive tackle and defensive end during his developmental season and was the defensive freshman (true or redshirt) to start all 13 games in the Southeastern Conference in 2011. Eulls was named to the 2011 All-SEC freshman team in a vote by the league's coaches but still didn't have a solid position. However, the philosophy of new defensive coordinator Geoff Collins is to put the best four defensive lineman on the line and figure out the positions in a secondary fashion.
"It's a real simple philosophy for me and our staff, we're trying to find the best four lineman to put up front and in order to do that, we think Kaleb is best suited to play inside at tackle," Turner said.
Here's some more observations:
1) Collins' style of what he called "defensive mayhem" has some contrasting differences to the style of former defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. In one segment of practice, Collins turned to redshirt freshman linebacker Richie Brown, who was watching the action with the second-team unit, and said "Richie, how did things get so quiet around here?". Immediately you could hear what sounded like baseball chatter as the 11-on-11 segment was being conducted to create a sense of togetherness among the defense. Chris Wilson was more of a person-to-person communicator with his defensive players making sure that specific person knew what his assignment was and the mistake he might have made and Collins seems to want to focus on a groupthink type behavior that says if more than one player is around the ball then they can cover for a mistake.
"The one stat that is not talked about a lot, but one that I've been talking to guys a lot is a stat called 'defensive mayhem'," Collins said. "Tackles for loss, sacks, PBUs, interceptions. That stat we'll hopefully see a great improvement. Aggressiveness. Defensive mayhem. Guys flying around, making plays and creating negative plays on the offensive side."
2) Mullen and the defensive coaches have put an emphasis on working different units together in 11-on-11 work like the first team linebackers with the second-team secondary because obviously the depth chart isn't set at all and guys need the experience of knowing individual tendencies when substitutions happen in the fall.
"There's a lot of opportunity for playing time out there and the problem you find in the spring is whole substitutions but when you're in a game situation, you don't whole substitute position groups so guys have to get used to other guys around them," Mullen said.
3) Justin Cox seems to be able to make the transition quickly to starting cornerback in the SEC as the East Mississippi Community College product had another interception by reading the quarterbacks eyes and getting to the end of the route before the receiver was two steps from finishing the break. Cox played quarterback at West Point High School in a similar way to having the instincts and ball skills of former MSU cornerback and Jim Thorpe Award winner Johnthan Banks had coming out of East Webster High School.
"It's come pretty fast for me right now and the playbook is hard so I'm just trying to get in everyday and get my work," Cox said. "It's a big transition for me from junior college ball and the SEC."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
2. A Southern favorite: Rick Bragg to speak in Fayette ENTERTAINMENT