Mississippi State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has the unenviable task of preparing for a bowl game without two of his unit’s best defensive backs. Cameron Dantzler and Brian Cole will both be sitting out the Music City Bowl game against Louisville as they prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

“You look at our secondary right now, it’s not the same group that started the season certainly,” Shoop told reporters. “Came into the season, you thought you had maybe to replace some players, but some experience. C.J., Morgan is out with an injury. Mo Smitherman is out with an injury. Dantzler and Cole have chosen to pursue the next level. We certainly support them in that. That seems to be something that’s happening more and more, not just at Mississippi State, but throughout college football.

For the Bulldogs, it’s one of those times you look to younger players to step up. Jarrian Jones and Martin Emerson have one more game as “freshmen” on the roster, but in Game 13, the Bulldogs coaches no longer consider the first-year cornerbacks to be rookies.

“Jarrian and Martin aren’t freshmen anymore,” Shoop said. “They demonstrated a maturity, they demonstrated a physical ability throughout the course of the year. They’ve been solid contributors. Between the two of those guys, Tyler Williams, we’re very confident at the corner position.”

Fred Peters is in line for his first start and Shoop is confident in what the JUCO transfer safety brings to the table.

“You go back to the Abilene Christian game. Brian Cole played a majority of snaps at the nickel position for us. Fred played a fair amount. Fred is not your normal rookie because he’s a junior college guy. Got high football IQ. I’m really excited. Fred was one of our most valuable defensive players for the Abilene Christian game. Had an interception, a strip-sack, a tackle-for-loss. Fred has a maturity to him.”

Shoop’s Bulldogs will look to slow down the Cardinals offensive on Monday in Nashville. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET on ESPN.