Great Debate: Geoff Collins was Overrated as DC


One of my favorite things about sports is the way so many of the things we see on the field and court can often be debated. The college games are often up for more debate because there are so many schools and teams. So each week, I plan to debate the opposing sides of part of Mississippi State Athletics.

Mississippi State has a lot going on in the coaching front. According to lots of different reports, Mississippi State and Dan Mullen are working diligently on a pay raise and contract extension for the head coach. We learned yesterday that Mississippi State will now have to find a new defensive coordinator. Collins was the defensive coordinator for Mississippi State for 2013 and 2014. He was given credit for bringing a renewed defensive intensity to the Bulldogs in 2013 after there was very little production from the unit in 2012. The defense was supposed to be the backbone of the team in 2014, but there were lots of big plays and yards given up. The front seven of the defense was considered one of the best in the SEC, but the secondary was viewed as the weak link in the chain. There were whispers of Collins as an overrated defensive coordinator, and those whispers have gotten much louder since yesterday’s announcement.

And that is the topic for today’s great debate: Was Collins an overrated defensive coordinator? There is a pretty compelling argument to be made either way. Let’s look at the pros and cons of both sides. Here are the core numbers that we will be looking at for this debate.

Defensive Category20132014
Rushing Yards Per Game144.2126.5
Rushing Yards Per Carry4.23.7
Passing Yards Per Game205.2285.2
Yards Per Pass Attempt6.96.9
Completion Percentage Given Up61.9%52.1%
Total Yards Per Game349.3411.7
Yards Per Play5.55.5
Points Per Game23.019.4

Arguments that he was overrated
If you believe that he was overrated, then the arguments start with the sheer number of yards given up in 2014, and to a certain extent, the start of the 2013 season. From 2013 to 2014, the defense gave up 62 additional yards per game. The passing defense was the primary culprit for these yards. The defense gave up 80 more yards per game in 2014 than it did in 2013 and 18 less per game on the ground. If you believe this, you can argue the defense regressed from 2013 to 2014.

Arguments that he wasn’t overrated
If you think he was worth all that he got paid in 2014, then you start with the points allowed. In 2013, the Bulldogs defense gave up 23 points per game and it went down to 19.4 in 2014. Yards given up is one thing, but that isn’t what determines whether you win or lose. It’s the amount of points that you give up that determines whether you win or lose.

My take
You have to dig a little deeper to determine just how good or bad of a defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was. The yards went up, and there were a lot of big plays against the Bulldogs, but the team’s defense was more efficient in 2014 than it was in 2013. The defense gave up less points, a lower completion percentage, and a lower yards per carry. A lot of the defensive setbacks are directly attributed to a few things. The first is the big leads we ran out to early in the year. Teams started passing to try to get back in the game. Another aspect is that teams couldn’t run the ball on our defense. If you have to choose between being somewhat successful passing or not successful at all against the run, you will normally choose to go with the pass which you might have a chance with. While the yards went up, the yards per play did not.

Mississippi State is going to miss having Geoff Collins at Defensive Coordinator. I am confident that they can find a good replacement, but people who think he was overrated or that our defense wasn’t that good last year are reaching. The defense put pressure on the quarterback, got off the field on 3rd down, and did a great job of holding teams to field goals once they reached the red zone. It wasn’t a perfect defense, but it was a very good one. If it wasn’t, Florida wouldn’t have hired him.