JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Mississippi State University defense will get one final shot at a similar spread-option tempo offense and are desperate for better results.
MSU must get ready to face another high octane spread-option offense similar to when it lined up against Troy University and Texas A&M University this season. MSU fans don’t need a reminder that the defense more than struggled in both of those contests, especially with the ground attacks of both schools, and Northwestern’s quarterback duo of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian both bring the throwing and scrambling for rushing yards element to the offensive attack.
MSU (8-4) allowed 1,265 yards in those two games against Troy and A&M and only caused six negative yardage plays for the opposing offenses.
The MSU coaching staff and players stressed Friday after its team practice session at the University of North Florida that they were able to “simplify and correct” a lot of errors following the disappointing 38-13 loss to A&M when eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel accounted for 440 total yards of offense at Davis Wade Stadium on Nov. 3.
“That’s the worst feeling in the world when you have everybody locked up and then you see the quarterback run free like that,” MSU senior cornerback Corey Broomfield said. “Everybody looks around and says to each other ‘who was that’ and then you realize nobody had anybody accounted for the quarterback.”
Both Colter and Siemian played in all 12 games and have similar passing numbers. Colter was 92-of-134 for 796 yards, eight TDs and two interceptions, an efficiency rating of 135.2 this season. Siemian’s numbers read 116-of-197 (58.9 percent) for 1,192 yards, six TDs and two picks, good for an efficiency mark of 117.7.
Wilson was famous for saying after the loss at the University of Mississippi in the regular season finale in Oxford that the scouting report on the Bulldogs defense wasn’t complicated and the unit “clearly had a tempo problem.”
“The biggest thing is not only do you have to control the (quarterback) with your front four but you have to have a guy in the second level that can go tackle this guy,” Wilson said. “That’s what we specifically learned from the A&M game.”
n Wildcats may use two quarterbacks on the field in same play: Northwestern may use a small wrinkle to the 2013 Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day as the Wildcats may line up their projected starting quarterback Kain Colter at wide receiver to exploit the Denver native’s athletic ability on the perimeter.
“I don’t mind going in at wide receiver,” Colter said. “If I’m going to have a chance to play at the next level, it probably won’t be at quarterback, so any chance I get to go out there and showcase my abilities, I’m going to take advantage of it. I love playing quarterback, I’ve been playing it my whole life, but wherever the team needs me I’m going to go out there and play.”
NU’s backup quarter Trevor Siemian started two games this season (vs. Indiana University vs. Penn State University) and Colter saw plenty of action as a receiver. Colter had a career best of nine receptions for 131 yards against the Hoosiers, and still found time to rush for 161 yards in 14 carries from the quarterback spot while scoring a school record-tying four rushing touchdowns.
“I don’t mind going in at wide receiver,” Colter said. “If I’m going to have a chance to play at the next level, it probably won’t be at quarterback, so any chance I get to go out there and showcase my abilities, I’m going to take advantage of it.
“I love playing quarterback, I’ve been playing it my whole life, but wherever the team needs me I’m going to go out there and play.”
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has instituted the two-look system at quarterback and it’s worked out well for the Wildcats offense. NU averaged 397.8 yards per game and scored at better than a 30-point clip per outing.
“We believe we’ve got two young men that we can win with,” the Wildcats coach said. “We watch a lot of NFL teams that don’t have one. We’re very fortunate to have two.”
Dan Mullen said Thursday following the Bulldogs first full-team practice in Jacksonville that the team has already begun preparations for Colter to be lined up at wide receiver and the MSU fourth-year head coach said he doesn’t see any difference between him or a normal wideout in the Southeastern Conference in terms of fundamentals and skill.
“I think one of the benefits for him doing that is as a quarterback moving to a wideout, you immediately have a different perspective to the new position,” Mullen said. “I’ve done it with some guys in the past and simply put, they’re viewing it as a quarterback and what they’ll seeing and feeling in the pocket that is unique.”
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