It is no secret when you say SEC Football one of the last teams that come to mind are the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Over their history – more times than not they just have not mattered.
Since day one of his arrival in Starkville head coach Dan Mullen has been trying to change the attitude and perception of the SEC Western Division Bulldogs. In just three short years he has taken this team from also-ran to a mid tear SEC program. Mullen has won two consecutive bowl games and dominated his instate rival Ole Miss. However, the mark on Mullen is that’s about all he has done – which is he has only beaten one SEC Western Division opponent during his time in Starkville.
Many will tell you it is a success that is skewed by easy out of conference wins and beating up on inferior SEC Eastern Divisional opponents. For all Mullen has done for Starkville, others want to see more. This season – a season that sets up perfectly schedule wise for the Bulldogs, Mississippi State must have five players that are considered average players, step up and be big time players.
Today we look at diamond number four – defensive end Denico Autry.
After the 2010 season and the loss of Pernell McPhee to the NFL and graduation, Mississippi State had no true pass rush presence on the field last year. Tallying only twenty-seven (27) sacks last year and ranking fiftieth in the country in sacks per game, the Bulldogs failed to constantly put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
In walks juco defensive end Denico Autry. Autry graduated in December from junior college, was able to enroll in school in Starkville in the spring and has now had eight months to adjust to life as a division one athlete.
Autry brings size and athleticism to the defensive end position at 6′-6″ 245lbs and has a nose for the football. Just last year Autry had 11 sacks and over 40 quarterback pressures. His ability to stop the run is still suspect but there is no doubt he adds an instant impact from the defensive end position when rushing the passer. This bodes well for State especially with the defensive secondary they have coming back.
Not only can this secondary blanket receivers, you now have a guy who will put pressure more times than not on opposing passers and that is a deadly combination and will go a long way in the Bulldogs reaching their goals for 2012.
About the Author
Written by Jake Wimberly
Mississippi State alum, co-founder of makeitrainsports, co-host to makeitrainsports radio on Rebel sports radio and Bulldog sports radio all on the Vsporto Network. Lover of SEC Sports, fitness and married to my best friend. Enjoy ketchup in large amounts and in search for a flying unicorn.