Friday, July 1, 2011
Coaching 'em up: Mississippi State
By ESPN.com staff
On the docket today is Mississippi State.
Coach: Chris Wilson
Position: Defensive coordinator and defensive line.
Experience: He's entering his second season on the Mississippi State staff and was co-defensive coordinator last season, assisting Manny Diaz. A 16-year coaching veteran, Wilson was the defensive ends coach for five seasons at Oklahoma before coming to Starkville prior to the 2010 season. He also served as the Sooners' special teams coordinator his final three seasons in Norman. Wilson got his start in coaching at Indiana State as a graduate assistant in 1993 and has also worked on the staffs at Northern Illinois, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Illinois State, Army and Colorado. Wilson was promoted to defensive coordinator in January, a day after Diaz left Mississippi State to become the defensive coordinator at Texas.
Of note: Earlier in his career, Wilson also coached linebackers. ... In his final season on the Oklahoma staff, the Sooners finished sixth in the country in sacks and were also in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense. ... He played his college football at Oklahoma and was a four-year letterman at linebacker from 1988-91. He finished his career with 311 tackles, which at the time placed him 11th all-time among Oklahoma linebackers.
His challenge: Obviously, this won't be completely new ground for Wilson. He was a co-defensive coordinator working under Diaz last season, but it was still Diaz's defense and he was the one game-planning each week and making all of the calls. That duty now falls on Wilson, who will have help from co-defensive coordinator Geoff Collins in his first year on the Mississippi State staff after coming over from Florida International. Diaz had the Mississippi State defense playing at a high level last season. The Bulldogs finished 21st nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 19.8 points per game. There will be considerable pressure on Wilson and the Bulldogs to pick up where they left off a year ago. He doesn't plan on changing up a whole lot in terms of scheme, but the Bulldogs lost all three of their starting linebackers. K.J. Wright and Chris White made a ton of plays, too. This figures to be Mississippi State's best secondary under Dan Mullen, and there's a lot of experience back there. Moreover, the defensive tackle tandem of Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd should be one of the best in the league. The Bulldogs still need to find a finisher off the edge, but Wilson's track record of producing top pass-rushing ends speaks for itself. The potential is there for this to be a very good defense. The Bulldogs have gotten better each season under Mullen, and now it's up to Wilson to navigate that next step of making this a championship-caliber defense.