Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense isn’t the only scheme change Mississippi State is making for the 2020 season. While 4-3 and 3-4 are the most common defensive schemes, new Bulldogs defensive coordinator Zach Arnett runs a 3-3-5 system. Veteran assistant Tony Hughes recently told Steve Robertson of Gene’s Page 247Sports that MSU fans will like the change.

“They should be very excited,” Hughes said. “It’s a trip down memory lane and at the same time, it brings you into the 21st century. You have a young coach (Arnett) who has taken the basics of the Joe Lee Dunn 1998 and 1999 defense and with Rocky Long and Bronco Mendenhall taken it to the next level using newer tendencies and techniques.

“You’re going against spread offenses now. Back then, you were going against I-formations. Now the best teams will spread the field with four wide receivers, so you have to be able to match those things with multiple coverages and do some things that you probably didn’t do 20 years ago. That’s the exciting thing about running this defense. You’re running a great system that has stood the test of time with some new innovation.”

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Hughes returned to MSU for the 2019 season after being relieved of his duties as Jackson State’s head coach. From 2009-15, he coached safeties under Dan Mullen. Hughes was tight ends coach last season on Joe Moorhead’s staff, but is moving back to the defensive side as Leach’s nickelbacks coach. Hughes credited one of his former colleagues with helping him stay in Starkville after the coaching change.

“Coach Leach has a very good friend in Hal Mumme,” Hughes told Robertson. “Coach Mumme was my offensive coordinator at Jackson State. Coach Mumme is famous in the football world and he and Coach Leach are friends. Coach Mumme and I have a good relationship and I believe he gave Coach Leach a good recommendation of me and that I would be good for him and good for the program. Coach Mumme came up in my discussions with Coach Leach and I believe that relationship helped me to be able to stay on here.”