By BEN WAIT
Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen announced Friday Geoff Collins has been promoted to defensive coordinator.
“Geoff is an exceptional defensive mind and his energy and passion are remarkable,” Mullen said in a release. “His experience as a play-caller and previous experience as a defensive coordinator will make this an easy transition.”
Collins will take over for Chris Wilson, who is expected to take the defensive line coaching position at the University of Georgia as reported by ESPN.com. The news on Wilson broke late Friday night.
Collins was hired in 2011 as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Wilson served as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for the past two seasons when Manny Diaz departed for Texas.
Before that, he served a year as the co-defensive coordinator.
Wilson called the defensive plays when Diaz left in 2011, but in the Tuesday’s TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Mullen decided to let Collins call the plays.
“We had struggled against some spread teams and some up-tempo teams in the past, so I wanted to try something different,” Mullen said after the Gator Bowl. “(I wanted to) give Geoff the opportunity to call the game and also communication wise. There’s a lot that has to go into rotating the defensive line in and out of the game.”
The Bulldogs lost to No. 21 (Associated Press) Northwestern 34-20 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith was usually in charge of substitutions, but he left to take a similar job at Auburn and was not in attendance at the bowl game.
The decision to let Collins call the plays was decided the day MSU arrived in Jacksonville.
“It came up the day we got here,” Collins said. “I think it had to do with, you know, Melvin was in charge of substitutions most of the time and we do a lot of substituting with the defensive line. (Mullen) was just letting me call it and (let) Chris handle the defensive line substitutions. For the most part, it was good.”
MSU gave up 357 yards to the Wildcats. The Bulldogs only allowed 196 passing yards, while giving up 161 on the ground.
“I think overall the defense played well,” Mullen said.
Taking over the play calling duties for Collins was something he saw as an opportunity. Being a part of the MSU coaching staff is something Collins is proud of.
“I’m just happy to be a part of the Mississippi State football program,” Collins said. “I love Chris, I love Tony Hughes and I love Dan Mullen. I’m just happy to be here.”
Before arriving at Mississippi State, Collins spent the 2010 season as the defensive coordinator of Florida International. There were talks in early bowl practices of his name being in connection with the head-coaching job open at FIU.
With the Panthers, Collins’ defense led the Sun Belt in total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and turnover margin.