Manny Diaz focused on limiting A&M’s big plays

Manny Diaz has vastly improved Mississippi State's secondary this season, but can they slow down the Aggies?

Marvin Gentry/Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Despite their fantastic run in 2014, Mississippi State had one of the league’s worst pass defenses last season. Enter defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to work with a more experienced secondary and the Bulldogs have successfully revamped their pass defense in one offseason. 

“The pass defense is all 11 guys,” Diaz told the Clarion Ledger. “Not just the pass rush, but the way (we) fit up the receivers and the way we have to cover the guys, everybody’s responsible.”

The new and improved secondary will certainly be put to the test on the road against Texas A&M this weekend. The Aggies currently rank fourth in the SEC in passing offense and have four players with at least 10 catches on the season. 

“The first thing that jumps out is their skill,” Diaz said. “They have guys that can go and make plays that other people can’t. Good coverage isn’t always an issue for them. You can be all over them and they have multiple guys that can go up and take the ball away.”

Texas A&M got off to a slow start last week against Arkansas, running only 16 plays in the first half of that game, Kyle Allen caught fire down the stretch, eventually completing for 21 of 28 throws for 358 yards. 

Many of the Aggies throws go for big chunk plays due simply to one missed tackle. Tackling in the open space will be critical to the Bulldogs’ success against A&M. 

“They’re going to complete passes,” Diaz said. “The issue is where are they completing them and how much run after they catch do they have? Are they getting chunk plays?

The game should be a true indicator of where Mississippi State’s new-look secondary ranks in the league.

“We’re excited about the idea of going up against it,” Diaz said. “Our guys in the secondary and our pass defense and some of the things we tried to do to shore that thing up. There’s no bigger stage to go test yourself on than Kyle Field.”

(h/t Clarion Ledger)

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