The Bulldogs defensive line will only have to replace one starter from last year—NFL hopeful Josh Boyd.
Mississippi State's rotation at defensive tackle should consist of Quay Evans, Curtis Virges and Nick James, while Denico Autry, Kaleb Eulls, Preston Smith and Ryan Brown will rotate at the Bulldogs' defensive end positions. Eulls should see time at defensive tackle—in addition to defensive end—depending on how the rotation works out.
The Mississippi State defensive line has consistently been one of the most respected units in the SEC the past few years. However, the Bulldogs were only able to get to the quarterback 18 times last season, which ranked them at No. 13 in sacks in the SEC.
New defensive coordinator Geoff Collins will be attempting to remedy the Bulldogs' lack of pressure by implementing a more aggressive style of play this spring.
Defensive tackles Quay Evans—a 6'3", 300-pound former 5-star recruit—and Nick James—a 6'4", 330-pound former 4-star recruit—will play a much more significant role in 2013.
At defensive end, the 6'5", 255-pound Denico Autry and the 6'6", 245-pound Preston Smith combined for 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss last season; expect them to build upon this success in the spring. Chris Jones, the Bulldogs' 6'6", 255-pound 5-star commit from Houston, Miss., may work into the defensive end rotation in the fall as well.
With the experience Mississippi State has returning on the defensive line, expect this spring to be this defensive line's first step to becoming a much better unit than last year's, despite the absence of Josh Boyd.