NOTEBOOK: MSU’s Autry embracing need to be an everydown player

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Last week, Denico Autry said he saw himself as a third-down pass rusher. He’s changed his tune since then, which will please his coaches.
Autry came to Mississippi State after an All-American stint in the junior college ranks, and he came with the expectation of starting right away at defensive end. When asked on Saturday about his role, Autry said, “I see myself as the third-down guy.”
That’s not how MSU’s coaches feel. In fact, defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said Tuesday that he had not heard Autry’s comment.
“I guess the core value No. 1 in our program is always being honest,” Wilson said. “I expect Denico Autry to never leave the field. That’s our expectation for him. That’s why he came here, to not leave the field.
“That’s what our standard is, that’s what we’re expecting from him, and hopefully that’ll be his when camp’s all said and done.”
On Tuesday, Autry (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) said he does have a starter’s mentality. But he did admit to some hesitation in embracing the role.
“At first it was, because I didn’t know everything. But now I’m kind of getting in the swing of things and ready to jump in and take control,” Autry said.
The Bulldogs need him pressuring quarterbacks on all three downs. The MSU pass rush was nothing special last season, and Autry brings a strong résumé with him from East Mississippi Community College. Last season, he had 11 sacks and was named first-team All-American.
“When he first got here, he just loved to pass rush,” defensive tackle Josh Boyd said. “But he started developing more in the run downs, and he’s gotten a lot better at that. He’s going to be an every-down player for us this year.”
Robinson gets around
Damien Robinson is just a third-year sophomore, but the offensive tackle has made the rounds for MSU.
“Whoo, I came a long way,” Robinson said. “From left tackle to left guard, right guard to left tackle, right tackle – I can play them all.”
For now, the 6-7, 315-pounder is the first-team right tackle. He’s battling juco transfer Charles Siddoway for that job, but there are no guarantees Robinson will remain at that position.
“I don’t think I have a right or left tackle,” line coach John Hevesy said. “I have four tackles.”
And those four tackles could swing from one side to the other. That’s fine with Robinson. He’s used to moving.
“I feel settled in, but if they keep moving me around, I can play everything and I know all my plays,” he said.
Down on the Farm
MSU moved to the South Farm practice fields Tuesday, and two-a-days start there today. Coach Dan Mullen said being on a more isolated part of campus gives the practices a different feel.
His players agree.
“It’s definitely a different feel than just being out on our practice fields, getting away from the facilities, being in the hotel. It’s a good bonding time for the team,” quarterback Dak Prescott said.
As receiver Jameon Lewis put it, being at South Farm “lets you know camp has really started.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com