August 29, 2012

Defensive line preview

When a team loses a defensive lineman early to the NFL Draft it can decimate a team's plans for the following year.

But Mississippi State and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson seem to be coping with the loss of first rounder Fletcher Cox quite nicely. The Bulldogs have been able to recruit plenty of talented depth along the line the past few years and look forward to showcasing that on the field this fall.

While Wilson's defensive line features some of the country's top recruited players, the fact remains that each defensive lineman no matter highly rated must be disciplined and work hard to play for MSU.

"Hey, I'd play my momma if she could get me a sack," Wilson said. "I don't care who it is if I can find a guy that can get off the edge, get pressure and get to the quarterback."

Naturally Cox's absence does leave some big shoes to fill at defensive tackle. Occupying that space this season will be Cox's longtime companion Josh Boyd, who will be entering his fourth season as a starter.

Boyd, a former U.S. Army All-American and four-star recruit in his own right, has played in 38 career games and drawn 28 starts. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder led all Bulldog defensive linemen last season with 51 tackles including eight for loss and 4.5 sacks.

"You want a dynamic player at that position," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "I think he's our most dynamic defensive lineman. I think he would have been great at that position, you start rotating guys last year and there's talk like you always wanted to have both of them on the field together, but it's a good one-two at that position last year. So I just think the ability to put him in position to make plays, that's the position we want him at. And I think he's done a nice job. He certainly has all the ability. We've just got to see him now have the production on the field."

Moving up to take Boyd's spot is expected to be sophomore Curtis Virges. The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder saw action in nine games as a redshirt freshman in 2011 recording 10 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

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