By JOEL COLEMAN
Last week at SEC Media Days, we caught up with Mississippi State senior defensive end Ryan Brown. What does Brown think about the 2015 season? Get his thoughts in my story below.
Brown wants Bulldogs to learn from losses
By JOEL COLEMAN
Three-quarters of the way through the 2014 football season, Ryan Brown may have had to pinch himself to make sure his reality wasn’t just a dream.
In the 6-foot-6, 266-pound Mississippi State defensive end’s first season as a full-time starter in the Southeastern Conference, his team was ascending to never-before-seen territory.
The Bulldogs sat as the top-ranked team in the country for the first time in program history. To get there, Brown had earlier in the year returned to his home state of Louisiana and helped MSU win at LSU for the first time in over two decades.
The big wins continued to pile up, as did Brown’s statistics.
But like a great movie with a bad ending, Brown can’t forget the last part of the story. Mississippi State would go on to lose to Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech over the course of the year’s final four games.
For Brown, the feeling was akin to eating a sour dessert after a delicious dinner. Now, the senior says it’s high time the Bulldogs washed the bad taste out of their collective mouths and don’t let something similar happen again.
“Our mentality is…to focus on those losses because we are nowhere near perfect,” Brown said last week at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. “We are trying to focus on finishing strong in every drill and every practice. We don’t care a lot about our wins, because it’s what you do after the losses.”
Brown understands that, to avoid a similar fate as the Bulldogs endured late last year, much of the defensive line pressure now sits on him. With Preston Smith’s Mississippi State days a thing of the past, Brown is challenged to pick up the slack and build upon a solid 2014 campaign that saw him record 39 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Brown doesn’t sound intimidated by the challenge, saying he has plenty of aid to shoulder the heavy leadership load, starting with his teammate on the other end of the defensive line, junior A.J. Jefferson.
“A.J. Jefferson does a great job relating to players and making sure they are always around on time,” Brown said.
The help doesn’t stop there. Seemingly amazed at the crop of talent that comprises the MSU defensive unit, Brown rattled off name after name of guys he sees making an impact once the season kicks off in September.
“Cory Thomas, Braxton Hoyett, I’m really ready to see them flourish,” Brown said. “And guys from (junior college) like Johnathan Calvin and Will Coleman. I’m excited to see those guys play and ball out. Torrey Dale, that’s my home boy. I came (to Mississippi State) with him. I went to eighth grade with him and I’ve known him ever since. It’s going to be great to see him on the field beside me some plays.”
Brown’s comments were eerily similar to those made just moments prior by his Bulldog teammate across the room at Media Days. When asked a similar question, senior defensive back Taveze Calhoun also provided a list of players he believes will make an impact in 2015. Add it all together, and one can see this year’s MSU defense is all about relying on one another.
“We just try to take care of ourselves, our defense as a whole, and make sure everyone is working toward the common goal of being the best defense in the nation,” Calhoun said. “We just always try to work and be strong as a group.”
If the Mississippi State defense can indeed jell, Brown, Calhoun and the rest of the Bulldogs will be on the right course to again make a push for college football’s grandest prize. And should MSU slip at any point, Brown is ready to lead the charge in making sure the bad times don’t snowball like a season ago.
“Obviously, we did a poor job in rebounding after the first loss (last year),” said Brown. “So we have to stay focused and make sure we let those losses be our motivation.”