Auburn Opponent Scouting Report: Mississippi State Defense and Special Teams

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Sep 20, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Benardrick McKinney (50) tackles LSU Tigers running back Kenny Hilliard (27) during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports


Bendardrick McKinney is the best player on defense, and he might be one of the best linebackers in the nation. Last season, McKinney led the team with 71 tackles and 3.5 sacks, and he also accounted for 7.5 tackles for a loss.

The former high school quarterback, who now weighs in at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, currently leads the Bulldogs with 36 tackles and six tackles for loss. McKinney has sacked an opposing quarterback three times and also recovered a fumble. Expect this to be McKinney’s last season in Starkville. He’ll be playing on Sundays in 2015.

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McKinney’s running mates at linebacker are Beniquez Brown, Christian Holmes and Matthew Wells. Brown is the team’s second leading tackler with 25 and he has 4.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including a sack.

Holmes is tied for third on the team with 23 tackles, and Wells, who is a returning starter and one of the fastest linebackers in the nation, has 17 total stops and is the team’s leader with five pass breakups. Wells has three TFLs and a sack this season. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, and with his speed, Wells plays like a safety, but he’s made 25 starts in his career at linebacker after initially coming to campus as a running back.

Backup linebacker Richie Brown made a name for himself last week against Texas A&M, and picked up the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award in the process. Brown intercepted Aggies quarterback Kenny Hill on three separate occasions, which was key to the victory.