With the departure of defensive coordinator Geoff Collins to Florida, the Mississippi State Bulldogs and head coach Dan Mullen were forced to dig deep into their past to fill their coaching void hiring Manny Diaz. This is Diaz’s second stint with the Bulldogs and the terms of his deal are yet to be disclosed.
During Diaz’s first go around, he helped the 2010 Mississippi State team to a 9-4 record, and the defense allowed an impressive 19.9 points per game making him a hot commodity for many job openings. Diaz later agreed to take over the same role under Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown, but struggled to match the same success he recorded for the Bulldogs, and was fired early in the 2013 season. Still, Diaz was able to rebuild his credibility by being just as instrumental at Louisiana Tech, where he aided the Bulldogs to a 9-5 record and Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl win.
The SEC is a conference built on strong defenses, and Mississippi State must maintain continuity within the defense if they hope to remain competitive in the brutal SEC West. This year, the Bulldogs relied on their defense to build a 9-0 record before the unit faltered down the stretch, allowing 105 points to Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia Tech and falling quickly out of College Football Playoff contention. The Georgia Tech loss was arguably the worst of the three, and with it, Collins had three weeks to prepare the defense for Georgia Tech’s option offense, but the strong rushing attack dominated the Bulldogs.
Now, it will be up to Diaz to reload the defense.
However, knowing his familiarity with the league, it shouldn’t require too much change in order to prepare them for another run at a National Championship, and an improvement on their solid start in 2014.
*Section Photo credit to John David Mercer. USA Today Sports; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark Zerof, USA Today Sports