STARKVILLE • If there’s one thing keeping Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery awake at night this week, it’s Mississippi State’s multiple defense and all the “crazy looks” that MSU can throw at an offense.
Mississippi State faces No. 22 Tulsa on Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Bulldogs’s strength, while the 3-7 record doesn’t show it, is its 3-3-5 defense that defensive coordinator Zach Arnett has implemented this season.
The MSU defense lines up in a variety of ways to try and confuse opposing offenses, so Montgomery said his team will need to do a great job of trying to keep their eyes in the right spot throughout the game.
“They’re so multiple in what they do and they give you some crazy looks,” Montgomery told reporters on Monday. “Sometimes you’re looking at it like ‘Why would they even be doing that?’ and then all of a sudden everyone is moving and changing.”
Mississippi State’s defense has been one of the best in the SEC this year.
Mississippi State’s defense is ranked No. 4 in the SEC in total yards, allowing only 380 per game. The Bulldogs do, however, allow over 28 points per game. Some of that can be attributed to the offensive woes and turnovers.
The strength of the MSU defense is against the run. MSU allows only 125.3 rushing yards per game, which is 4th best in the conference. Mississippi State has held four of the 10 opponents it has faced to under 100 rushing yards, while only giving up over 150 yards four times.
“They’re tough to run the football against,” Montgomery said. “They’re an SEC defense and they got some big guys up front. Their linebackers are big and they come downhill in a fit and they will hit you. So you have to find some ways to run the football and you have to find some explosive plays in the passing game and generate some yardage there.”