News broke over the weekend that Mississippi State defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend will handle defensive play calling duties for this week’s Orange Bowl match-up with Georgia Tech. This move makes sense on the surface since someone has to man the ship, with the exodus of Geoff Collins to Florida.
Townsend is in his second year as the defensive backs coach for the Bulldogs and a seasoned veteran himself and someone the players look up to and respect.
“We had everybody on the same page today,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said. Practice went exactly as it has been running before.”
And that’s what you would expect for a unit that has a ton of Seniors and a staff that has shown they can produce.
From Tony Hughes to David Turner and beyond, this staff is very good and shouldn’t miss a lick in bowl preparation.
But back to Townsend – is this simply Mullen tasking Townsend with one game duties or is there more to it?
Personally I think this is an on the job interview for the 12-year NFL veteran and two time Super Bowl winner.
Mullen has done a great job moving coaches around, particularly on his defensive staff, during his time in Starkville and making it work.
Manny Diaz shared responsibilities with Chris Wilson back in 2010, and then Geoff Collins came in as a linebackers coach to share responsibilities with Wilson.
Mullen has a track record of promoting from within the program and Townsend makes perfect sense, if he can call a clean game this week.
The question shouldn’t be Townsend’s football knowledge because he has more football knowledge than any of us put together. The question is now can Townsend game plan and call the right plays at the right times to put players in positions to make plays.
Mullen said as much this past weekend when discussing his defense.
“The biggest challenge is you just have to get yourself in a flow (with play-calling),” Mullen said. “He and I will meet and talk about it to get himself in the flow of calling plays. “Really, the only thing different is who’s going to be spitting the plays out of their mouth on game day.”
If he can do that, I expect he could be moved into a “co-defensive coordinator” role this spring and Mullen would bring in another young coach, with experience to help with the defense.
This does a few things for Mississippi State moving forward, if indeed this works out this way. One, it keeps the defensive staff in tact (minus Collins) and moves a guy to the front that the players respect and listen to. If you hire another young, up and coming coach that can recruit and has a great defensive back ground, you should be set for 2015.
Mullen has done a great job identifying young up and coming coaches on both sides of the ball.
Secondly, you can give Townsend a raise and pay a new position coach a little less than what you would if you were hiring a full time coordinator.
Geoff Collins was making 1.2-million over a two year span and Townsend is currently getting $250,000, annually.
If you bump Townsend’s paycheck, you can still afford another young coordinator and the sum should equal out about what you were paying Collins or maybe a little more.
All in all, nothing but good things can come from Townsend having success behind the headset this week.
This is an on the field job interview for a guy that has thrived on the gridiron. I fully expect him to show up and show out.