MSU says its defense will get better

September 15, 2009 11:39:00 AM

Danny P Smith -


STARKVILLE -- Charles Mitchell gave a statement on behalf of the Mississippi State defense Monday. 


Coming off a 49-24 loss to Auburn University on Saturday, Mitchell expects the Bulldogs to play better. 


"We''re not going to play like that anymore," Mitchell said. "We will definitely not play like that again." 


MSU allowed 589 yards of total offense, including 390 yards rushing. 


Mitchell didn''t blame anyone for the performance, but knows everything needs improvement. 


"That wasn''t our defense," Mitchell said. "We didn''t play good at all."  


MSU coach Dan Mullen knows his defense can''t give up 49 points again in the Southeastern Conference and expect to win. 


That''s why he will sit down this week with defensive coordinator Carl Torbush to see what can be done to improve the defense. 


The main focus is putting the Bulldogs in a better position to make plays so they will be ready for Vanderbilt at 6 p.m. Saturday (FOX SportsNet South). 


Mullen said now is not the time to make wholesale changes or to scrap the defensive scheme. It''s just a matter of speeding up the process. 


"At times, we''re playing too slow on defense," Mullen said Monday. "Give Auburn credit, they did a good job and kept our defense on their heels." 


Torbush said the speed of the game kept him from rotating players in and out. 


In many situations, MSU was stuck with a three-man front or a nickel package on the field. 


"Sometimes you just have to play with what you have," Torbush said. "If you''re in a nickel on the field, that''s what you''re in." 


One thing Mullen wants to get from the defense is more pressure on quarterbacks. 


With only three sacks in two games, the Bulldogs aren''t spending much time in opposing backfields. 


"(Junior defensive end) Pernell (McPhee) did get some rush at times," Mullen said. "The other guys have to create more pass rush and create some opportunities for them to be able to get after the passer. I think we may have gotten a little conservative at times with a three-man rush and weren''t getting a whole lot of pressure." 




Major penalties 


Mullen knows nothing kills an offensive drive worse than penalties. 


The Bulldogs have been penalized 22 times for 241 yards (an average of 120.5 yards per game) in two games, which is 113th in the country. 


After being penalized 12 times for 152 yards against Jackson State, the Bulldogs committed 10 penalties for 89 yards Saturday. 


Mullen said MSU''s offense isn''t at the point where it can overcome penalties. 


"We''re not executing at a high enough level offensively to overcome mistakes," Mullen said. "After a bad call, we need to be a little more aggressive." 


Mullen attributes the penalties to a lack of mental toughness, especially while try to learn a new offense and defense. 


"Once our guys get more comfortable running the system, you will see a cleaner executed offense," Mullen said. 




Avoiding "L" word 


Mullen doesn''t like losing so he tries not to use the word. 


When it comes to describing what happened at Auburn, Mullen hopes he doesn''t have to talk about it often. 


"We have a lot of things to work and improve on," Mullen said. "I don''t like using the ''L'' word. (Losing) is not acceptable for us. We had a good practice (Sunday). When you don''t come out on top, it''s extremely disappointing." 




Putting up points 


The Bulldogs have scored 69 points through their first two games of the season, the most since 1974. 


MSU opened that season with 87 points in wins against Williams & Mary (49-7) and against Georgia (38-14). 


The 1974 team scored 100 points in its first three games, while the 1973 squad produced 106 points, the most since 1944. 




Injury update 


The Bulldogs remain in good shape. 


Redshirt freshman offensive guard Tobias Smith, of Columbus, (ankle), junior tight end Brandon Henderson (ankle), and redshirt freshman defensive end Nick Bell (knee) were on Monday''s injury list. 


Henderson is in rehabilitation, but Smith was back at practice Sunday. 


Mullen said Smith won''t play until he''s 100 percent. 




LSU time announced 


Mullen received some good news Monday. 


He was pleased to learn the kickoff for the Sept. 26 home matchup against LSU was set for 11:21 a.m. 


"There''s nothing better as a coach than to get up and go play," Mullen said. 


The MSU-LSU matchup has been televised 13 of the past 14 years, with the only exception being 2005. 




Schedule addition 


The University of Alabama-Birmingham announced the addition of Mississippi State to its schedules for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. 


The Blazers will play host to the Bulldogs in 2013 and travel to Starkville in 2014. That''s an addition to scheduled games between the teams in Starkville (2010) and Birmingham (2011).