Geoff Collins, who has been co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past two seasons for Mississippi State, has been promoted to defensive coordinator, head coach Dan Mullen announced today.
Collins replaces Chris Wilson, who’s been the DC the past two seasons. A team spokesman said Wilson is at the moment still on MSU’s staff as defensive line coach, a title he has held since joining Mullen in 2010 as co-DC.
“Geoff is an exceptional defensive mind and his energy and passion are remarkable,” Mullen said in a statement. “His experience as a play-caller and previous experience as a defensive coordinator will make this an easy transition.”
Collins was given defensive play-calling duties for the Gator Bowl, with Mullen saying at the time that he wanted to “try something different” against a high-tempo spread team. Such offenses had given State trouble throughout its 8-5 season.
MSU gave up 387.4 total yards per game this season – 221.8 yards through the air, 165.6 on the ground. Opponents averaged 23.3 points per game, but during a season-ending stumble in which MSU lost five of its last six games, foes averaged 33.7 points. The Bulldogs’ season ended with Tuesday’s 34-20 loss to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl.
Collins will continue to coach the linebackers. His promotion was first reported Friday morning by CoachingSearch.com.
UPDATE: According to DawgNation.com, Wilson has accepted a job at Georgia as defensive line coach.
One big concern for fans is how Wilson’s departure might affect MSUs 2013 recruiting class – especially five-star commit Chris Jones, a defensive end from Houston, Miss. It seems fans should not worry.
“I can adjust to the coaching change. It really doesn’t affect me,” Jones told our Brandon Speck today.
Here’s more on his coaching bio from MSU media relations:
This past season, Collins had two linebackers finish in the top five in the SEC in total tackles; Cam Lawrence (120) and Benardrick McKinney (102). Lawrence has become the first Bulldog with 100-plus tackles in back-to-back seasons since 1994-95, while McKinney is in the top five in the country in total tackles by a freshman. With State not having had two players in the top 10 in the SEC in tackles since 1997, Collins’ troops have accomplished the feat in each of his first two seasons in Starkville.
In his year before joining the Bulldogs, Collins was defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at FIU, and his defense led the Sun Belt in total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and turnover margin; all a remarkable accomplishment for a group that finished 119th nationally in total defense and 111th in scoring defense in 2009. The Panthers’ sack totals nearly doubled, and the pass defense improved from 108th nationally to 32nd in 2010. For his efforts, Collins was a finalist for the Broyles Award – given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Collins made the move to FIU after a pair of seasons as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at UCF. In his first season in Orlando, Collins helped UCF’s defense rank second in Conference USA in total and scoring defense. Before joining the Knights’ staff , Collins spent a year as the director of player personnel at Alabama. The previous year at Georgia Tech, Collins’ efforts led to the Yellow Jackets best recruiting class in their storied history.
In 2002 Collins became the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at his alma mater, Western Carolina, and inherited one of the worst defensive units statistically in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. In 2003, under Collins’ direction, the Catamount defense emerged as one of the best in the nation.
In 2005, the Western Carolina defense was ranked No. 1 nationally in pass defense along with being ranked 18th nationally in total defense. Collins’ unit also ranked first in the Southern Conference in total defense and pass defense along with several other defensive categories.