November 25, 2012 7:53:48 PM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- The differential diagnosis of the defense with the Mississippi State University football program isn't too complicated.
In fact it only took Bulldogs defensive coordinator Chris Wilson two words to fundamentally describe what has ailed MSU (8-4, 4-4 in Southeastern Conference) this season and caused a major problem in its 41-24 loss Saturday night to the University of Mississippi.
"Big plays," Wilson said. "We're attempting to be more aggressive in our coverages to be more close (to receivers) and when those occur, you're either really good on those plays or you're not. When you're not, they become explosive plays."
And it's not getting any better for Wilson and his defensive staff.
Throughout the month of November, MSU has allowed opponents a league-worst 27 plays of 20 yards or more. In those four games, (vs. Texas A&M University, at Louisiana State University, vs. University of Arkansas and at Ole Miss) MSU only defeated Arkansas and were defeated by at least 17 points in the other three losses.
MSU coach Dan Mullen was not specific following his first loss to Ole Miss, to how the football program would solve these issues either over bowl preparation practices or in the spring workouts.
"I don't know (but) yeah, we'll evaluate that in the off-season," Mullen said. "We'll evaluate where we are as a program and how we can improve that in the future."
Mullen's answer leaves doubt as to what will follow in the next coming months of MSU and if those solutions include staff personnel changes, scheme changes or both before the Bulldogs open up the 2013 season in Houston against Oklahoma State University.
MSU has had three different defensive coordinators in Mullen's four-year tenure in Starkville (Carl Torbush, Manny Diaz and Wilson). Torbush and Diaz left for other opportunities at Kansas University and the University of Texas but last offseason was especially quiet for the Bulldogs in terms of staff changes.
In the SEC, MSU was the only program intending to bring back its entire staff from the 2011 season into this fall camp. However, MSU was forced to make a change on the staff when wide receivers coach Angelo Mirando resigned due to what the school called "personal reasons," just 13 days before MSU began the 2012 season with Jackson State University.
According to a report from ESPN.com national college football reporter Joe Shad, Mirando is under investigation for the recruitment of at least one player.
However, MSU officials are still currently declining comment on the ongoing investigation by the NCAA Enforcement staff.
Less than four days after the resignation of Mirando, MSU announced the hiring of former University of Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster to fill the vacancy on the Bulldogs coaching staff.
The aerial combination of quarterback Bo Wallace to wide receiver Donte Moncrief hurt the MSU defense severally throughout Saturday night as they combined for seven connections for 173 yards and three touchdowns.
MSU has faced three offenses (Troy University, Texas A&M and Ole Miss) based on the concept of tempo and using speed to cause confusion among the defensive players on the field. Each time, the Bulldogs have faced such an attack they've been blitzed for big plays, lots of points and a lot of puzzled looks on the sidelines.
After giving up over 500 total yards of offense to another spread-option offense based on no-huddle tempo, Wilson was able to properly diagnose what is ailing the Bulldogs defense throughout the 2012 season.
"Right now we have a tempo issue," Wilson said. "That's an issue that we have to go into this spring type deal and before we go into a bowl game to get these fixed. We have to fix them in the off-season and there's no excuse not to."