Evaluating Mississippi State at the Halfway Point

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Sep 19, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive tackle Chris Jones (98) and defensive lineman A.J. Jefferson (47) sack Northwestern State Demons quarterback Stephen Rivers (13) during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Most Surprising Player: A.J. Jefferson

A.J. Jefferson has to be the runaway choice for the most surprising defensive player. Many Mississippi State fans might not have known who A.J. Jefferson is before the start of the 2015 season, but thy certainly do now.

Jefferson, much like Richie Brown, was asked to step in and fill some pretty big shoes. The Bulldogs lost their best pass rusher from a season ago when former Defensive End Preston Smith graduated and was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.

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Smith led Mississippi State with 9 quarterback sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Those numbers are great, and replicating them would be no easy task.

So far, Jefferson has 10.5 tackles for loss and 4 quarterback sacks in the 2015 season. He is on pace to surpass Smith’s tackles for loss number, and his pace for sacks would leave him just one shy of what Preston Smith did a year ago.

The Bulldogs needed a big time pass rushed when the 2015 season began. Jefferson has filled the void in a big time way.

Next: Offensive Most Disappointing Player