Not yet up to par: Zach Arnett explains what he needs to see from his Mississippi State defense before the season arrives
The way Zach Arnett tells it, his Mississippi State defense is a long way away from where he wants it to be.
After previously noting that his defense isn’t where it needs to be, the defensive coordinator was asked to share an update on the progress made by the unit in camp.
“I’ll put it bluntly, do I feel a little better? Yes. Are we there? No,” Arnett noted during his recent press conference.
One key area that has been an issue in Starkville is at linebacker where, outside of senior Erroll Thompson, the unit lacks much experience heading into the upcoming season.
Here is what Arnett had to say when discussing his linebacker group down in Starkville outside of the unit’s veteran leader.
“I’m not pleased enough. Like you said, Erroll has got all the SEC experience in the world, but other than that, we need guys to step up and perform like veterans who don’t yet have that experience,” Arnett continued. “We are pushing them hard and leaning on Erroll to hold them accountable and get them going this defense, our scheme, will not be successful if we don’t get good linebacker play, quite frankly.”
So, when the Mississippi State defensive coordinator notes that his unit isn’t yet where it needs to be, what exactly is he referencing?
“The job of the defense is to keep them out of the end zone. So, if you give up points, you’re not successful enough,” Arnett added. “I don’t mean to say that as a shutout is the only acceptable outcome, I’m not saying that. If you make assignment errors or you are misaligned, typically those are the things that lead to big plays.”
After getting the basics down, Arnett then wants to see his players give the effort that is necessary to succeed in the SEC.
“Teams are going to make plays but if you are giving up plays that lead to points because your misaligned or you are doing the wrong thing or you just got a flat out assignment error, those are the things that lead to really bad defense and get you beat in a hurry,” he concluded. “So we’ve got to eliminate those.
“Then when you eliminate those, then it comes down to are you able to make more plays than the opponent? They are going to make some plays, you are going to make some plays. Who is going to play harder longer and come out on top and make the crucial play in the end?”