- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1) will be the clear underdog when it hosts No. 10 LSU (4-1, 1-1) on Saturday night in Starkville. The Bulldogs have had their ups and downs this season, but middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney believes that if his team just makes a few plays, they can make this game interesting.
McKinney said to expect a raucous crowd at Davis Wade Stadium when the Tigers come to town. The cowbells will most certainly be clanging at maximum volume around kickoff at 7 p.m. ET.
The sophomore preseason All-SEC selection took some time to talk about the matchup with ESPN.com on Friday. Here's what he had to say:
What's the focus been like this week for the defense?
McKinney: Just to come out and play hard. We need to execute our plays and stop the run. That's our main focus, to stop the run. We want to come together as a defensive unit. The d-linemen are going to do their job getting push up front and opening up things for the linebackers to make plays.
How's LSU different this year?
McKinney: They have good, big backs -- (Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue, Terrence Magee, Kenny Hilliard). Their passing game is good. No. 80 (Jarvis Landry) is a very good receiver, but we're going to try to shut him down. We'll be fine if we execute our plays.
How has the secondary looked? Are they ready to stop LSU's receivers?
McKinney: Our secondary is doing pretty good at practice. They're maturing everyday and knowing to play to win. They're going to be great Saturday. They're going to make a lot of big plays for us.
What stands out about Zach Mettenberger?
McKinney: He's a pocket quarterback. He's a great player. He can throw the ball downfield. If you give it to him, he can make plays. Getting pressure is going to be very important. We have to make him try to move around since he's not very mobile. We need to get him out the pocket.
McKinney: Both of them are great leaders, Dak and Tyler. I mean, they're putting in extra work, working together and working with the receivers. They're working together as a team, as brothers, and staying positive.
What's Russell's attitude been like after not starting for a few weeks?
McKinney: He's been a great leader, pushing us when he's on the sidelines. He's helping with the plays and telling us to keep working hard and helping Dak a lot on his pass reads. He's giving a lot of energy to the team.
5dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough