Mississippi State put together the kind of box score defensive coordinators dream about last week against Kansas State, holding the Wildcats to just over 200 yards and only 10 points. Even with that kind of game, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop still saw plenty his unit has to correct after what he described as “the sloppiest most dominating performance I had ever seen.”
One area Shoop was focused on was turnovers. “If I was being critical of us thus far, the one negative or area for growth is turnovers, we haven’t created them. I think it’s hard sometimes when you get the pass rush that we do and the quarterback is throwing it into the dirt or out of bounds, but I’d like to see us break the ice this week and get some turnovers.” Mississippi State has intercepted a pass in each of its first two games, but as Shoop said, the intense pressure the Bulldog defensive line is putting on opposing offenses is forcing throws that the secondary can make plays on.
That defensive line has been incredibly impressive, even with the high expectations that surrounded that group coming into the season. When asked how deep his front four can go, Shoop replied “Extremely, at the defensive end position we have guys that on the third unit that other schools that I’ve coached would be starting.” The Bulldogs have racked up 25 tackles for loss and 8 sacks through two games, impressive numbers even when you take the level of competition into account. Mississippi State will look to continue that trend this Saturday against Louisiana at Davis Wade Stadium.
We’ll talk a lot more about the defense on Thursday morning’s Thunder & Lightning Podcast, including making the comparison between this group and the legendary 1999 defense, still regarded as the gold standard at Mississippi State. I’ll also be on SportsTalk Mississippi tomorrow afternoon for the entire show as we continue to preview week three in college football.