By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State’s new defensive coaching staff may not have been together all that long, but the four new guys calling the shots on that side of the ball are all learning to adapt and appreciate one another. After the Bulldogs took to the field to resume spring practice on Tuesday, new MSU safeties coach Maurice Linguist praised the relationships that are being built amongst the leaders of the Mississippi State defense.
“It’s a learning curve to be successful for the coaches when you’ve got new people together just like it is for the kids, but it’s all going in the right direction,” Linguist said. “We’ve got a long road to run and a long race to run, but we are taking steps towards the finish line in the right direction.”
Linguist, the Bulldogs’ safeties coach, is just one of a new quartet of men calling MSU’s defensive shots. Also joining Mississippi State is cornerbacks coach Terrell Buckley, defensive line coach Brian Baker and defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon. All four men filled holes on the Bulldog staff that were created when their predecessors left for other jobs this offseason.
“I think the energy is good,” Linguist said of the dynamics of the defensive staff. “I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t mean it. We really just enjoy being in the room together and just hashing out our defense and talking about kids and talking about scheme and how can we maximize the talent of our kids and put them in the best position to be successful. I think right now we’re on track.”
As the new Bulldog coaches settle in, it’s Sirmon leading the charge. In his first-ever defensive coordinator job after years as an assistant, Sirmon is already earning praise for his efforts.
“Coach Sirmon has done a great job of setting the expectations and letting other ideas come in,” Linguist said. “I think he’s got a great confidence because when a guy can walk into a new place and say ‘This is what I want done’ but then also say ‘How did you do things there’, it takes a great deal of confidence. It shows he knows what to do, but he’s also willing to listen and it works to make a good learning environment and good communication in the room.”
Like Linguist, Baker is enjoying working under Sirmon. In fact, Baker, who has 19 years of experience coaching in the National Football League, says he’s learning from all of his fellow coaches.
“It’s kind of a unique staff in that three of us have quite a bit of NFL experience,” Baker said. “(Sirmon) played in the league, Terrell Buckley played in the league and I coached in the league for a number of years. They kind of help me a little bit because they both have more college experience than me. They help me see things for what they are. Whether its the plays and what teams will do in this league or the hashmarks. In this league, the wide field is actually a wide field. In the NFL, the ball is in the middle the whole time it seems like. Those little things, because they know what I’m used to, they’ve really helped me along in this process.”
Bumps in the road still await MSU’s new staff as they familiarize themselves with one another. It’ll take more than a couple of spring practices to learn tendencies and expectations. Each of the guys knows that’s the case, but even so, are committed to the process, not only because it’s their job, but because they enjoy working together.
“It’s Mississippi State and it’s family,” Baker said. “Although we’ve got a new defensive staff, based on these last couple of weeks, we’ve bought in on that and we’re all brothers and in this thing together. It has been fantastic and I give Coach Mullen and Coach Sirmon all the credit for that.”