MSU Media Day: Peter Sirmon

Opening Statement
“The summer was good for us. As we completed spring and came into the summer, it gave the defensive staff some time to collectively get together and really start discussing. Once we found out what our personal is and the identity of the team, we were able to emphasize what we are going to be. Dan Mullen has done a fantastic job of not only developing the program but developing the players with a certain mindset. As a defensive staff, we are going to put a huge emphasis on playing with relentless effort, enthusiasm and toughness. Dan has done a great job with this program. Those are the characteristics that need to be shown when you turn us on and watch us play. All year you are going to hear me talk about production. It is not the amount of snaps that he plays, it is what he brings to the team.

On the new defensive staff
“As a new staff, we need to keep improving. What we are doing as a staff is a positive because we are all new at this together. I am thankful for the three other coaches that Dan hired. I think they are going to be great additions. Brian Baker, who is still transitioning into the college game. The great thing is he has an immense amount of football knowledge. If you can hire and bring in coaches with football knowledge, they are going to be great fits regardless of their experience. Terrell Buckley is another guy who has a great pedigree of playing in the highest level. I have been very impressed with the technical disposition and the things he is asking our guys to do. He is doing a great job recruiting for us. He is very influential and a well-known guy in the areas he is in. Maurice Linguist is handling the safeties for us. He is super sharp. He has a lot of good knowledge and does a really good job communicating with the kids. He is demanding, but he is not overbearing to where the kids turn him off. I am very thankful for those three guys and what they are all bringing to the table. We are putting effort into becoming a staff to collectively put the best product on the field.”

On defensive style
“I coach defense. I want to play the defense that gives us the best opportunity to stop people from moving the ball and scoring. I know 3-4 and 4-3 is nice, clean and tidy and it can communicate your defense, but we will be a multiple front defense. We are recruiting guys that have great size and athleticism to play in multiple fronts. I think it is real positive for us with the style of play. It becomes what do you have to stop to win the game. When you start to have multiple attacks you have to stop multiple philosophies, you have to keep the playbook open and you have to be flexible with how you approach things. As plain as that might sound, our emphasis is what we need to do put our kids in the best position to give us the best chance to win football games. Having a multiple front defense will give us the flexibility to move guys around that have certain skill sets to play multiple positions.”
On the defensive line
“Some of these guys have experience, but they are not old. Some are old, but have little experience. A.J. Jefferson is a very versatile player who has taken on the leadership role. He will be asked to continue to do that. Johnathan Calvin finished up spring well. He will be playing multiple positions for us. He will be playing traditional defensive line with his hands on the ground and he will also be playing some stand up. Nelson Adams and Nick James will be our nose position, basically the interior defensive line. Those guys have experience and age. Torrey Dale, Cory Thomas, Fletcher Adams, Grant Harris, Kendell Jones and some of those guys will be playing defensive line. Guys that are needing to develop and guys that have flashed in the spring, but we need to keep developing them. Now is time that we need to see who is the guy that is going to take the next step. You learn information and sometimes it takes guys longer to apply it and you see the development. With the summer these guys have put in, I am looking forward. All of these guys that we are talking about, there should be significant progress on their production and they are understanding what we are asking them to do. Interior wise, Braxton Hoyett is a guy who missed some time in the spring but he really flashed. He did some things of being extremely productive, he is athletic and a good size. He is another young guy that I expect to keep developing. The new guys in the room are Tre Brown, Kobe Jones and Jeffery Simmons. We are getting all of those guys ready to play. From there, we will make decisions on who is prepared, who is taking the appropriate steps of development and who is really producing. We will not play guys who are not ready, but if guys can contribute and have the mental disposition. At the viper position, a defensive end to a stand up outside linebacker. Will Coleman, Anfernee Mullins, Marquiss Spencer and Gerri Green will play that position. Gerri Green played exclusively inside in the spring, but he is another guy that I think we need to do a great job of finding the best fit for him to help us. Transition to the second level. The linebacker position is going to be led by Richie Brown. I am excited to be able to coach him his final year. He is a guy that if you could put into a box of what we want our program to be like and what coach Mullen has attracted here and developed here, Richie Brown is that guy. He is a high character guy who has played a lot of football and has been very adaptable. There has been change on the defensive side and I appreciate that all of these guys have been open to a different way of doing it. Dezmond Harris is going to be coming back, and I am excited to watch him practice. It has been a challenging road with him and some of his injuries. He seems to be in a good frame of mind mentally. Josiah Phillips and Erroll Thompson will both be playing inside linebacker. The next best guy will go in instead of the first backup. You will see multiple guys playing different positions. Leo Lewis and Tim Washington were both playing the same position in the spring, that will continue. It is not a race on who is going to be the starter, but I want those guys to get better consistently. Both of those show flashes, but we need greater consistency with those inside linebackers. Kelan Chairs will be playing the inside linebacker position as well. The star, which is our field outside linebackers, will be J.T. Gray, Traver Jung, DeAndre Ward and Allen Perkins. DeAndre will a guy that has the ability to play multiple positions for us. Traver has that ability as well. It is a jigsaw puzzle to find the right combination versus the style of play. We are excited about that group. Working the backend, the safety position is a position of strength for us, with Brandon Bryant, Kivon Coman, Mark McLaurin and Jamal Peters. Those guys really all have what you need in terms of physical skills. Kivon will have more experience than anybody in that room but those guys we need to develop and playing at a really high level. Maurice Smitherman will play some safety reps and corner reps. At the corner, Tolando Cleveland and Cedric Jiles. I am very excited about those two guys. Lashard Durr has a good knack for making plays. He was around the ball a lot in the spring. We have Jamoral Graham, Chris Rayford and Chris Stamps. We have some younger guys with Cameron Dantzler, John Hankerson, C.J. Morgan and Korey Charles.”

On Gerri Green’s versatility
“It has a lot to do with the style of playing what we are defending. He is a guy who has good size, good physical tools and most importantly a smart guy that will be able to play multiple positions. We are going to start him out at the viper position, but I can get him developed at inside linebacker. I want to see him playing on the edge a little bit and then from there we will know what direction we want to go with him.”

On Traver Jung’s transition to outside linebacker
“We played him at the star position and the viper position in the spring. A little of the viper position in the spring was we had a couple of guys miss a few practices. There are some similarities in the star position and the viper position. The outside edge players have enough consistency in terms of alignment and assignment.”

On A.J. Jefferson and Richie Brown
“Football and defense is all about people. To have guys that can impact the team at important positions and people that understand what the group goal is and have the experience of some transitions, is not a bad thing at all.”

On expectations of Jeffery Simmons
“I want to see from him what I want to see from all of the defensive linemen. I want all of them to be disruptive and to play extremely physical. I want them to demonstrate great effort on film. There is going to be a standard that we ask that position to play to and he will be asked to play to that standard as well.”

On the characteristics of the team
“It goes back to versatility. Primarily, the versatility on your second level of defense, from the outside to the inside linebacker. The back four, there are only so many different ways that you can play coverage. The multiple fronts will be the stress on the front seven. Having a three down front and a four down front, living in both worlds, creates inconsistencies. On offense when you see consistency, you feel comfort. If we give offense the same picture play after play they have comfort and when they have comfort, they have success.”

On the changes of the defense
“As multiple as we can be, when you start breaking it down into positions, it is not going to be as much as I have made it sound to be. From a building standpoint, I look at how are we building certain techniques. When you multiple it, it looks big because the front looks different than the coverage.”

On the new defense
“When receivers run routes, there are a lot of one on ones. I don’t envision our style of play putting any additional stress on them that most corners in the country feel. The challenge for the corners in making the play when the ball is in the air.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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