Mississippi State began a transition during spring football practice, with the team moving away from the Air Raid offense and into a bit or a more traditional pro style offense under new offensive coordinator Kevin Barbay. How the Mississippi State tight ends pick it up will be key.
Barbay’s offense will use tight ends quite a bit in a number of different ways, flexing them out wide as pass catchers occasionally and using them in the backfield as additional blockers to create leverage in the run game.
“That’s what we’re doing. Now we are moving them around in personnel groups,” assistant coach Mike Schmidt said. “We’re in some 10, we’re in some 11, we’re in some 12, so we’re getting multiple guys on the field at the same time. But just kind of experimenting on what they can do.”
As the Bulldogs did that this spring, they were careful to make sure they didn’t ask the Mississippi State tight ends to do too much.
It’ll be quite the adjustment as is moving from the Air Raid to this new offense, so making sure the transition is at least somewhat gradual is key, explained Schmidt, the tight ends and tackles coach, as well as the run game coordinator.
“We have a couple rules in that room, and as I’ve coordinated run games in my past I never want those, we call them the adjuster personnel guys, we never want them blocking more than themselves,” Schmidt said. “And that’s going to be our job as coaches to put them in those situations where they can have success.”
How that happens remains to be seen, as does the exact choice of personnel the Bulldogs go with.
A handful of players are playing new positions to help make the transition seamlessly, so there will be a learning curve associated with picking up the offense at tight end for Mississippi State.
“It’s hard to ask a guy who came over from D-line or a bigger receiver who came into the room — we’ve got Malik Ellis out there, a high school, undersized O-lineman moving into the room — it’s going to be hard to ask any of those guys to do everything,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got to find a couple of things they do well, and it’s our job as coaches to put them in the right position and execute on Saturdays in the fall here.”
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