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Gator Bowl Welcomes #21 MSU, Sherrod & White Earn 1st Team All SEC Honors, 2011 Recruiting

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

sherrodWell guys, as many of you know by now, MSU welcomed the Gator Bowl’s executives to Starkville on Monday. Rick Catlett, who is the CEO of the Gator Bowl, was even awarded with his very own cowbell.Catlett had the following to say about a number of issues surrounding MSU’s invite to Jacksonville: 

-On Strickland & MSU Fans:  “I want you to know, your AD worked very hard to convince this board to make this selection. Your fans have proven they were the right fans to invite, they’ve sold all their tickets and asked for more! Scott worked very hard to educate our selection committee and people…I think Mississippi State conducted themselves very professionally and made sure we had all the facts to make the selection.”
-On State’s Season and Bowl Ticket Sales:  “It’s not the largest stadium in the conference by any means (Davis Wade), but when the school you just invited calls for more tickets four, five hours into the process it shows the passion you have.”
-Picking MSU over UT:  “It was a pretty easy selection at that point, a 8-4 team ranked 21st in the country. It’s sort of a rule, or feel, you don’t pass a team after the type of season Mississippi State had for a two-win-less team.” 
-On Cowbells:  “We’re going to let them to bring them to our game and they can ring them any time they want to!”

Catlett also told reporters that as of yesterday morning, there was only 428 tickets left. In order to put that figure in perspective, the Jaguars’ stadium holds 77,000. MSUhas sold close to 16,000 tickets, while Wolverine fans have purchased around 12,500.  

White and Sherrod Named to All-SEC First Team
The Media has spoken, and the All-SEC Team has been named. MSU’s MLB Chris White and LT Derek Sherrod were honored with First Team picks. RB Vick Ballard earned an Honorable Mention nod. Congrats to our Bulldogs! As for other honors…
-Off. Player of the Year: Cam Newton (Surprise, surprise)
-Def. Player of the Year: Nick Fairley (The next James Harrison, future NFL fines leader)
-SEC Freshman of the Year: Marcus Lattimore (Beast)
-Coach of the Year: Gene Chizik (Nazi)

Recruiting Update
Just wanted yall to keep an eye on the recruitment of QB Dak Prescott. Many of you may know that LSU is doing their best to pull the Haughton High (LA) standout away from MSU. Dak visited Baton Rouge this past weekend, but left with a ‘Low Interest’  tag on his recruitment with the Tigers. Prescott will be in Starkville this weekend, for hopefully the visit that will seal his fate in Maroon and White. At this time, Prescott has given State a ‘Soft Verbal’. He is the #66 QB in the country, a definite duel-threat, and is rated as a 3 Star. If Mullen would like to continue what he has done with Relf this season, after Russell is gone, then Prescott would be an excellent pick up. I talk at times with the LSU guy here at Bloguin, who is Kris on SaturdayNightSlant.com, and he actually gets to see Prescott play on Fridays. He continually reminds me that the kid is full of talent, and a perfect fit for Dan Mullen. Prescott holds offers from LSU, Grambling, La Tech, Memphis, and North Texas.

Last week, State did pick up their 23rd commitment of the 2011 recruiting class. Of course nothing is final until the players sign the dotted line, but Lloyd Allen became that 23rd player. Allen is a product of Gulf Coast Community College, and is rated as a 2 Star. The DE stands in at 6-4 240 lbs. Allen also has offers from UK, aTm, Troy, UH, Marshall, and UAB. Allen and Prescott are 2 of the pieces that could finalize MSU’s spot in the Top 25 of National Recruiting. Dak_Prescott

SEC News
Here’s the rest of the list of All-Conference performers. Link

Slive sticks by his ruling on Newton. Link

Urban Meyer votes Auburn #2 instead of #1…Some are saying sour grapes? Link

Remember how UT dropped UNC from their 2011 schedule? Can’t run now, huh. Link

Chris Low’s SEC Power Rankings. Link

LSU and Boise have conflicting rankings in the BCS…shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone. Link

Every Bowl Game previewed here. Link

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#21 MSU Headed to Gator Bowl to Face Michigan; Cam Newton: Best Ever?

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

Gator_Bowl_LogoAfter a strong 8-4 season, Dan Mullen and the MSU Bulldogs are headed to the Gator Bowl, to face the Michigan Wolverines. The Gator Bowl is the 6th oldest Bowl, spanning some 65 years. Michigan, who hails from the·historic Big 10 conference, finished with a 7-5 mark. The Wolverines are led by Coach Rich Rodriguez and former Heisman hopeful QB Denard Robinson.

It seemed until Saturday afternoon, that the Chick-fil-a Bowl in Atlanta, was a done deal. But, once South Carolina had a weekend to win over the Bowl’s board members during the SEC Championship’s festivities, their own deal was in·place. I myself, thought that there was no way that USC had a chance to return to Atlanta after their WEAK performance on Saturday night. Not to mention, that you have to wonder how many Gamecock fans were willing to make the same trek, to the same venue, same hotels, and everything else, less than a month later. I was quite surprised, but Chick-fil-a and Carolina·got what they deserved. A deal like that, had to be in place before the SEC Championship game even kicked off, otherwise I·believe that USC officials would not have been able to·find a Bowl representative after the game (because they left·in the 3rd Qtr). They made their bed, and now they can lay in it.

Your thoughts, did·State get screwed?

Personally, I’ll take it. Jacksonville BOUND!!!

While we are on a subject that is somewhat related to the SEC Championship, let’s discuss·one more item. In order to do so, you will have to put aside all the dislike, hate, and whatever other bias that you·might bring to the argument. And in order to even approach it, I too have to throw so much baggage aside that it almost still hinders my opinion. So, with that said, here’s my question to you…

Is Cam Newton the best college football player·ever?

Like I said, remove that cloud that is hovering over his head, and will continue to do so…remove Cecil Newton, Kenny Rodgers, and $180,000, and just examine his body of work. I’ve witnessed a single player make a team better, but never before have I seen a single player transform an entire team. Newton has single handedly taken Auburn from a 3rd place SEC West team, to a National Championship caliber team. This is going to be a whole load of I’ve Nevers but here we go. I’ve never seen a QB that is tougher to bring down, that can extend a play longer, who runs more effectively, who throws more·accurate than most truepocket passers in college football, and who can produce a touchdown on any given play. The kid is simply, unstoppable. He has talent around him, but nothing like Tebow had around him at UF, and that is the deciding factor for me. Not to mention that UF’s Defense during that time was stellar, while Auburn’s has its’ weaknesses. The fact is, whether it’s making a read in the option game, checking down·to a secondary receiver, or pulling the·ball down and running, Cam seems to always make the right choice on the·field. But, it’s the decisions off the field-of those closest to him and quite possibly his own, that will forever raise questions about his eligibility.

Your thoughts?gatorbowl·

Btw, did I mention that USC was terrible on Saturday night?


Mullen Speaks
Before last week, MSU had no interest at all in the University of Miami. But during last week, State fans could not wait for the Canes to hire Randy Shannon’s replacement. That has yet to happen, but it appears that Dan Mullen can be removed from the U’s short list. Mullen was questioned on Sunday night about MSU’s Gator Bowl invitation, and whether or not he had entertained offers from Miami or others. Mullen had this to say: “The only administrator I’ve talked to at any university about coaching football is Scott Stricklin. Right now we’re working on what we hope can be a deal that will suit everybody and get our program going in the right direction-the direction it’s going right now for us-in the long term. There are a lot of great things I think we can get done here at Mississippi State that I want to accomplish here at Mississippi State. I plan on being the head coach here for a long time.”

SEC·in Bowl Games

Ohio State vs Arkansas (Sugar) Cam2
Penn State vs UF (Outback)
South Carolina vs FSU (Chick-fil-a)
UNC vs UT (Music City)
LSU vs aTm (Cotton)
UGA vs UCF (Liberty)
Bama vs·Michigan State·(Capital One)
UK vs·Pitt·(Compass)
Auburn vs Oregon (BCS Title)···
Ole Miss…(crickets)…

ESPN High On MSU
I don’t know how many of yall saw it last night, but the question was raised about where would MSU be right now, if Cam Newton was at State rather than Auburn. Reece Davis, without any hesitation at all, said “Playing Oregon in the BCS National Championship.” Funny thing was, none of the other analysts doubted him. They continued to talk about MSU’s Offense and Defense, and were very high on State’s talent, toughness, and Head Coach Dan Mullen. You can tell that they like our Dawgs. 

Your·thoughts on the entire weekend, State’s Bowl invite, Newton, Mullen, and whatever else?

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Cam Newton Cleared? NCAA & SEC Set a Bad Precedent

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

camnewton2As of yesterday, the NCAA and SEC made it completely LEGAL to buy players by way of their parents. It’s as simple as that. Let’s look at all the ‘language’ that’s being thrown around out there…

SEC bylaw 14.01.3.2

If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive, directly or indirectly, any aid or assistance beyond or in addition to that permitted by the Bylaws of this Conference (except such aid or assistance as such student-athlete may receive from those persons on whom the student is naturally or legally dependent for support), such student- athlete shall be ineligible for competition in any intercollegiate sport within the Conference for the remainder of his/her college career.

Problem:  [If at any time before or after matriculation in a member institution a student-athlete or any member of his/her family receives or agrees to receive...] So, what they are saying is that it’s ok for  families to solicit money from a School, as long as they never shake on it or reach an actual agreement about the payments. Even though there was not an official agreement between State, Kenny Rodgers, and Cecil Newton, is the evidence not enough? There are phone text records revealing the payment plan that would be in place to purchase Newton’s son, including a timeline and the size of each installment that would be paid. To be specific, ”$80,000 when Cameron Newton signed, $50,000 30 days later and another $50,000 30 days after that.” There were multiple phone calls and an apparent meeting at a hotel with Cecil Newton himself.

NCAA Spokesman Charles Bloom on the bylaw

“SEC Bylaw 14.01.3.2 does not apply in this situation. It only applies when there is an actual payment of an improper benefit, or an agreement (such as a handshake agreement) to pay and receive an improper benefit. The facts in this case, as we understand them, are that the student-athlete’s father, without the knowledge of athlete, solicited improper payments (which were rejected) from an institution the young man did not attend, and that the institution where the young man is enrolled was not involved.”

Problem:  [The facts in this case, as we understand them, are that the student-athlete’s father, without the knowledge of athlete solicited improper payments...]  By now, I’m sure that the NCAA has investigated the phone conversation between Cameron Newton and the unidentified MSU Recruiter, in which Cam seemed remorseful about his FATHER’S decision for him to attend Auburn and not MSU, because the “money was too much.” That conversation to me, is the KEY to this entire case. If that conversation actually took place and those words were spoken by Newton, this case is finished. Where’s the details on that conversation? At least confirm or deny the details please?

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive

“The conduct of Cam Newton’s father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics. The actions taken by Auburn University and Mississippi State University make it clear this behavior will not be tolerated in the SEC.” 

Problem: [The conduct of Cam Newton's father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics.] What’s so unacceptable about Cecil’s conduct, if Cam Newton is still an eligible and legal player for Auburn? Why has Auburn chosen to lessen Cecil Newton’s contact and involvement with the team? And last but not least, if this was any other SEC team, that was not headed to the SEC and Nat’l Championship, this case would not even be debatable. If you ask me, the fact that Slive said that “The conduct of Cam Newton’s father and the involved individual is unacceptable and has no place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics”, should by letter of the law, mean that Cam Newton should not legally have a place in the SEC or in intercollegiate athletics

I also agree with Pardon the Interruptions (ESPN) Michael Wilbon, that this is nothing more than  “agenda-based junk.”  Wilbon went on to add that if TCU or another smaller conference school wasn’t in the BCS’ 3rd spot, that Auburn and Newton would be in hot water.

My Say:This is nothing more than the authorities looking the other way, committing crimes of OMISSION. The NCAA always seems to catch players, agents, and families long after they are gone. What’s so sad about this case, is that the NCAA and SEC has the chance to protect two of the most prized awards in all of Sports, in the Heisman Trophy and the Nat’l Championship. Profit now, pay for it later, and preserve the BCS system that you receive money from. The sad thing is, I don’t know who is dirtier, the Newtons or the NCAA and Mike Slive. A very poor precedent has now been set by both the NCAA and the SEC. 

Your thoughts?

Donald Trump wants the ‘U’ to hire Mike Leach. Link slive 

Oregon could slip up on Saturday, like so many teams before them. Link 

Stanford’s Harbaugh says bring on Playoff, if BCS overlooks the Cardinal. Link

Fulmer to Vandy? Naw! Link

Btw, Jackie Sherrill mentioned that in his mind, Tommy Tuberville would be his #1 guy for the Miami job.

That’s all today boys…

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Dan Mullen Will Stay at MSU; LB Chris White Wins Conerly Trophy

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

dan2One thing always accompanies the end of any regular season, and that’s rumors. Since Monday, the University of Miami has made it clearly known that MSU’s Dan Mullen and former NFL coach John Gruden are their 2 main targets, to replace the fired Randy Shannon.

Let me pause right there and say “Not gonna happen.” I’m well aware that Miami’s Football program is one of the top 20 of all-time in NCAA history. I know that the state of Florida is drenched with some of the best High School football that this fine country has to offer. I know that the ‘U’ has got a much bigger Athletic budget than what MSU could only dream about. And finally, I’m well aware that the Canes are famous for turning out NFL talent, and add every year to the meat market that pro scouts feast on. Ok, heck, I’ll even go as far as to throw in the beach, sandals, and everything else Miami in itself has to offer. But, still I say “Not gonna happen.”

Here’s why I feel the way I do…

(1) SEC is King: Even on years when the SEC fails to win the Nat’l Title, it’s still the best conference in College Football. The conference has claimed the Crown in 4 of the past 5 seasons. It has the highest attendance rates of any other conference, and dominates the NFL draft year in and year out. You play the best of the best every Saturday. The passion, tradition, and pageantry is unmatched. Because of that, why go elsewhere? Championships are without a doubt easier to achieve in another conference, but when you’ve coached among the best, anything else is a step down. Mullen is a coach who demands the best from his players and fanbase, so why would he require anything less than that from himself. Leaving the best in order to win among the mediocre, is not in the cards for Dan. And in his mind, it’s probably unacceptable to even consider, and lie to the standard he holds himself and team to. Anyway, who go anywhere else, when you are already in the best conference in football, not to mention arguably the best division in college football. Many may see that as a self-defeating argument, and a good basis for a good coach to leave a strong conference. Some have already said that State will always trail Bama and LSU in tradition and success, but one can only look to the 2009 and 2010 as reality check. Mullen took a team that finished with just 3 wins in ’08, to within inches of a Bowl bid in ’09. In 2010, Mullen responded by leading the Dawgs to an 8-4 regular season record, and a .500 mark in conference play. Dan will have MSU in Atlanta within 5 years.

(2) Building a Program Builds Pride: Let me ask you this, is there anything more rewarding in life…anything that builds more pride…or anything more gratifying then seeing the fruits of your labor? There’s nothing like seeing results, and knowing you had a hand in that product. Mullen is has put butts in the seats, breaking the season attendance record in consecutive years. When the seats are full, and continually full, that changes everything. Not only is it a display of faithfulness on behalf of the fans, or just evidence that you are doing something right, but so much more. Attendance equals atmosphere, money for the program, better facilities, etc. What’s amazing, is that since Mullen was hired, he has manufactured so much interest and excitement in the program, that he has yet to see Davis Wade Stadium empty. The Bulldog Club has members now, more than ever. He’s taught the MSU program and fans what it feels like to win and compete-week in and week out. Mullen is pulling in the best recruits in the State, and currently has MSU ranked #23 in National recruiting. He’s witnessed the hunger of 55-59,000 in the seats, and the demand that is on the horizon for expansion. I’m sure that Dan has seen the plans to do just just, and he can’t help but realize just what he is building in Starkville. He is making what used to be ‘future’ plans, an immediate reality. (Don’t fool yourself either, whether or not stadium expansion plans were apart of the university’s master plan, it would have never happened if not for success on the football field). It’s because of ALL this that I’ve mentioned, that Mullen won’t leave. Coaches are all about results, and being able to sit back and look at what they’ve built and accomplished. We are all capable of accomplishing amazing things in life, but rarely do we have the chance to effect the lives of 55-100,000 people on a given Saturday. Even though I would say that Mullen is more confident than arrogant, it can’t help but feed his or anyone else’s ego to an extent. Like I said, there’s pride in building something. And in building something it’s even harder to walk away. Dan Mullen is building at MSU, not just a winning program, but other elements that will be hard to walk away from one day.

In the midst of all this, MSU AD Scott Stricklin has already commented on the fact that the school is setting up Dan Mullen’s contract to carry over through 2014. “We’re going to be smart and aggressive in this process. The normal protocol for something like this and the way we’ve done it in the past is to rip up the old contract and sign a brand new four-year deal.” Mullen currently brings in  $1.2 Million a year, and is set to receive plenty of incentives due to the Dawgs’ upcoming Bowl appearance. As of Tuesday night, Mullen confirmed that he has NOT been contacted by anyone, even Miami. For more, here’s a link to a conversation between Mullen and the CL’s Rick Cleveland about staying in Starkville. Link

That’s my take, your thoughts?


Chris White Wins Conerly Trophy
Just days after the Bulldogs won the Egg Bowl, and the reputation of the best team in Mississippi, Senior LB Chris White won the honor of the being named the best football player in the State. White has had a stellar Senior season, racking up 105 Tkls, 6 Sacks, 15.5 Tkls for Loss, 2 INTs, and 1 Fumble Recovery. After making a name for himself in his Junior season at MSU, White improved even more in 2010. White increased in Tackles (+30) and Sacks (+5.5). Congrats Chris, you will be hard to replace. Link 


Bumphis Out
As many of yall know, leading Bulldog WR Chad Bumphis, will miss the Bowl Game with a broken clavicle. I wanted to know your opinion, as to whether or not you think the injury hurts or helps the Bulldogs more? Out for the Bowl, but that’s some major reps for a lot of our young WRs in practice and preparation.  Link

State Falls to FAU Owls
I guess we knew it was coming eventually, considering that Stansbury’s squad is low on talent and experience and having already had some close calls. I can’t wait til Sidney and Bost can play. For those of you who are new to the site, I cover basketball in-depth, but not til SEC play, or quality opponents show up on the schedule before conference play. Ravern Johnson finished with 18 pts, Kodi Augustus brought down 10 Rebs, and Riley Benock has 3 asst. Very bad shooting night for State, only nailing three 3-pointers. State missed 4 FT’s in the final minute, and a last minute tip-in for the win. Typical. 

White

_____News_____

aTm accepts Cotton Bowl invite. Link

Boise’s kicker is receiving death threats. Link

UT’s Bruce Pearl zingsLane Kiffin. Link

Gamecocks make History. Link

CL reports that Chick-Fil-A Bowl isn’t a done deal? Link

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2010 Miss. State Stat Break Down: Bulldogs Progress Again Under Mullen

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

DanMHey guys, since the regular season is in the books, I figured that I would share some research that I’ve done over the past few days. At the end of the 2009 season, we all saw the drastic jump in offensive production when we compared Dan Mullen’s first season, to Sylvester Croom’s last. So, since Mullen has now had 2 years to install his Offense and dig deeper into the depths of the playbook, I figured we’d take a look at how the Dawgs have progressed just under Dan. Not only will we take a look at the Offense, but the Defense as well. For that research, we will be comparing newcomer Manny Diaz’s attacking Defense, to last year’s Carl reactivestyle Defense ran by Carl Torbush. So, here we go…

*Key*  Offense: Improvements (+) and Decrease (-)

______OFFENSE______

Scoring: 27.1 ppg (+ 2.5)

Points:
325 (+18)
  1st Qtr:
95 points (+ 40)
  2nd Qtr:
90 (+6)
   3rd Qtr:
62 (+17)
  4th Qtr:
78 (+1)

First Downs: 242 (+15)

Rushing Yds: 2,589 (-142)
   Rushing Yds per Game: 215.8 (-15)   

Passing Yds: 2,143 (+ 411)
   Avg Per Catch: 14.3 (+ 3)
   Avg Per Game: 178.6 (+ 23)

Total Offense: 4,732 (+ 269)
   Avg yds per Game: 394.3 (+ 23)

Fumbles/Lost: 17/8  (2009- 23/13)

3rd Down Conversions: 45% (+ 12%)

4th Down Conversions: 71% (+15%)

Sacks Allowed: 22 (+2)

Rushing TDs: 24 (+3)

Passing TDs: 15 (+6)

Red Zone Scores: 77% (+ 2%)
   Red Zone TDs: 60% (+ 12%)

*Key*  Defense: Improvements  (-) and  Decrease (+)

______DEFENSE______

Scoring: 20.3 ppg (- 6.5)
   
Points Allowed: 
244 (-77)  
  1st Qtr: 
53 points (-15)
  2nd Qtr: 
74 (-29)
   3rd Qtr: 
56 (+5)
  4th Qtr: 
54 (-43)

First Downs: 235

Rushing Yds: 1,460 (-292)
   Rushing Yds per Game: 121.7 (-25)

Passing Yds: 2,837 (+ 197)
   Avg Per Game: 236.4 (?)

Total Offense Allowed: 4,297 (-95)
   Avg yds per Game: (+ 23)

Fumbles Forced/Recovered: 17/14 (2009  22/8)

INTs: 12 (-5)

3rd Down Conversions: 35% (-1)

Sacks: 26 (+8)

Red Zone Scores: 78% (-6 %)
   Red Zone TDs: 44% (-12%)

-Last season, Tyson Lee led the team in Total Offense. In 2010, Chris Relf is the leader with: 2,191 total yds, 683 Rushing, 1,508 Passing. 572 yards more than Lee registered last season.

-On Defense, the Dawgs top 5 tacklers saw an increase in total tackles: Chris White- 105 tkls (+30), KJ Wright- 93 (+11), Charles Mitchell- 86 (+22), Johnthan Banks- 50 (+17), Corey Broomfield- 48 (+29).

-Last season, State finished the regular season 5-7 overall, 3-5 in SEC play, 2-5at Home, and 3-2 Away. In 2010, State finished 8-4, 4-4, 5-2, and 3-2, respectively.

Any thoughts on this year’s production on both sides of the ball?

Bulldogs Honored…Again: Derek Sherrod named SEC OL of the week, LaDarius Perkins SEC Freshman of the Week. Link

Cam Newton story continues. Link

Bama announcer FIRED. Played songs related to Newton at Iron Bowl. Link

Bowl Picture for SEC. Link

That’s it today Boys!

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#25 MSU Tops Ole Miss 31-23 in Egg Bowl; Does Dan Mullen OWN Houston Nutt?

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

perkinsEggMAROON Rising

Last November, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend was capped off with a 41-27 Egg Bowl victory by MSU. As Dan Mullen’s almost prophetic words echoed throughout Davis Wade Stadium, and it was clear that the Bulldog Football program was in the right hands, and headed in the right direction. A new QB had emerged, raw and rough around the edges. Though young on Offense and Defense, the Maroon Nation knew that if the Dawgs could build on that rivalry win over Ole Miss, 2010 could be a corner-turning year in Starkville. Fast forward to Saturday night’s 31-23 victory over the Rebels, and the hopes of many, had become a reality. State finished the 2010 regular season with an 8-4 record, and a 4-4 mark in conference play. Anyway, stories are for writers, and I’m a fan first. So, let’s get to our game notes and recap.

(1) Chris Relf 2.0- Over the past 2 weeks, Relf has thrown for 512 yards (224 yds vs Arkansas, 288 yds vs Ole Miss), with 3 TDs. Not only is he averaging 256 ypg through the air, but he is also making a statement on the ground. Relf rushed for 103 yards vs Arkansas, and another 66 on the ground vs Ole Miss (84.5 ypg, in 2 wks). Relf had 354 of MSU’s 498 yards vs the Rebels, and has 683 yards in the last 2 games combined. There are a few reads here and there that Chris doesn’t make, but we all know that the option game is feast or famine. He also needs to develop a more timely, internal QB Pocket clock. But, the kid is slowly but surely, becoming the QB we all hoped he would be. Ole Miss stacked the box all night, and the kid just made plays.

(2) LaDarius Perkins Breaks Out- When MSU played UAB earlier this season, it was an excellent opportunity to rest a banged-up Vick Ballard, while getting Freshman LaDarius Perkins some much needed experience. Perkins, aka ‘Waterbug’ on this site, responded with 18 carries for 131 yards. Ever since we saw the speed that Perkins displayed on that Homecoming night, many Bulldog fans have been hoping that Dan Mullen and Les Koenning would utilize his speed in open space, where the kid could have opportunities to make plays. On Saturday night, it was Perkins who shined, gashing the Black Bears’ defense for 238 yds. Waterbug posted 140 yds on just 3 receptions (2 for TDs), and added another 98 on the ground. It was Perkins’ footwork and speed, that cut through holes in the run game and screen game, and left the Rebels in the dust. Les Koenning and Dan Mullen must read my blog, because we have been begging for a screen pass all year. Saved it for TSUN, so no complaints there. Breakout game for the Freshman, and we’ll be looking to many more of these type performances over the next 3 years.

(3) Defense was PERFECT for all but 10 Minutes- Let’s just clarify how good our Defense was on Saturday night in Oxford. Ole Miss averages 406 ypg, but were held to just 326 yds. RB Brandon Bolden averages over 85 ypg, but finished with 45 yds. QB Jeremiah Masoli who is extremely dangerous with his feet, was smothered for 12 yards on 11 carries. The Rebel Offense came in averaging 220 ypg rushing, and were held to just 65 yds. State led 31-9 to start the 4th Quarter, until the Dawg D and Offense fell asleep. Ole Miss scored on drives of 66 and 80 yds, due to some very complacent play in the Dawg secondary. After a great punt by State’s Heath Hutchins (with 2:30 left), the Dawg D held Ole Miss to just 12 yds on a 9 play sequence to end the game. The Rebs would only sniff the 37 yd line, only by way of a play which was called back due to an illegal block. State swarmed Masoli and Co., for the entire series, and secured a 31-23 MSU victory. State’s D forced just 1 turnover (INT-Broomfield), but had 3 other Masoli passes that should have been picked. For the most part, Manny Diaz did an excellent job of preparing his Dawgs not to bite on the misdirection runs that the Bears live and thrive on. It wasn’t until the 4th, when the tackling and coverage seemed to faulter for MSU. Almost a perfect game, but they played a heck of a 50 minutes. I’d have to agree with Mullen, in stating that-that was the team’s ”best 50 minutes of the season.” LBs Chris White and KJ Wright, finished with 9 tkls a piece. Wright did a remarkable job containing Masoli, and registered 2 Sacks. As for everyone else, here’s a list of their performances: S Charles Mitchell- 7 tkls; CB Corey Broomfield- 6 tkls, INT; LB Emmanuel Gatling- 6 tkls; CB Maurice Langston- 5 tkls, DE Pernell McPhee- 2 sacks, 2 tkls for loss. State finished with 3 Sacks, 10 tackles for a loss (-37 yds), and held Ole Miss on 14 of 17 3rd down tries.  

(4) STILL Not Capitalizing on the Opositions’ Miscues- We’ve been pointing it out since the Auburn game. Whether it’s a fumble recovery, an on-side kick, or an INT. Les Koenning has the WORST play-calling in these type situations. At a time when you are supposed to step on the opposition’s neck, we play it so close to the vest, that it usually results in a 3-n-Out. After Halftime, State was unable to move the ball to start the 2nd half and had to punt. On the return, State forced a fumble at the OM 30 yd line. Bad play calling, and State settles for just 3 points (24-9). On another instance in the 4rd Quarter, Corey Broomfield picks off Masoli on the OM 41. Another 3-n-Out. This trend HAS to stop. Start capitalizing! Turnovers are supposed to HURT the opposition.

(5) Offense is Clicking- 498 yds of Total Offense. 210 of those were on the ground, with 288 through the air. State held the ball for 31+ minutes, including 9:49 in the 3rd Quarter, and 8:30 in the 4th. Relf averaged 22.2 yds per completion, and the Dawg rushing attack average 4.2 yds per carry. State had runs of 34 and 71, with completions of 71, 44, and 22. RB Vick Ballard now holds the MSU record for the most TDs in a season by a Bulldog, and tied the Rushing TD record with his 16th.

Dan Mullen: ["Chris did a good job of managing the game. Their plan was to take away the run. They were daring us to throw the ball and we did. On the Egg & Smack TalkWe say it to them, too, they know. That’s what rivalry games are all about. I promise you they’ll always get our best shot every single year. It’s something that’s really important to me and we make an emphasis of it. On the Trophy: We’re going to bring this trophy right back to where it belongs. It’s got a nice trophy case right in our building there. To send our seniors out like Egg Bowl champions just like we did last year is huge thing. On the OM late rally: The one bad thing is we got up 31-9, and I was on our guys, and I told them, 'We cannot take our foot off the gas.' And I felt on our sideline, our coaches, for some reason we felt and put it into cruise control and said, 'Oh, we're good.' And all of a sudden we find ourselves in a football game. Chick-Fil-A Bowl?: One of my goals going into the season was to the opportunity to go to Atlanta. We may get that opportunity now, maybe a couple of weeks later than we originally wanted."]

 

Dan Mullen OWNS Houston Nutt

I know it may get old because of how much I’ve mentioned it, but I was right, this year will go down as playing a pivotal role in the MSU and TSUN rivalry. It was all up for grabs on Saturday night, and OM could have somewhat halted State’s roll, but the Bulldogs grabbed the momentum in the series. State and OM have completely switched places and appear to be heading in opposite directions. With 2 Egg Bowl victories in a row under his belt, I’m sure that Mullen could sway a recruit or two away from the Rebs, and with a possible 9 win season-could do the same for out of state recruits. In my opinion, Dan Mullen OWNS Houston Nutt on and off the football field. And, as I also predicted, that Mullen would run Nutt out of Oxford in just 2 years (tick-tock Doc), is becoming even more of a possibility. Even now, the rumor mill is already turning out it’s whispers, but the thing is, people can notice how big of an in-state swing has taken place, that it’s not a far fetched idea that Nutt could be gone today or tomorrow. I personally see him staying on, but just for another year. The atmosphere in Oxford is by far as dead as I have ever seen it. I’m not just trying to knock a rival here, I’m just being honest. The only 2 times the stadium came anywhere close to the noise level in Starkville, was on Chris Smith’s fumble, and the score on the next play. Trust me, I know what a 4 win season can do to a stadium’s feel (firsthand), but the Rebels are in danger of a lot more than just having a Black Bear as their mascot. If the Egg Bowl crowd was anything like their other crowds this season, no wonder the Grove was the place to be. Mullen and the Dawgs have done the hard part, now they get the Rebs at home next season, with a chance to make it 3 in a row. Pivotal year? I’d say so.

Anyway, I’ll stop talking about the Egg Bowl. I’m going to act like an Ole Miss fan and act like this rivalry doesn’t mean that much to me. What I’m not going to do, is slip on my sweater-vest and penny loafers.

Other News

Miami might have an eye on Mullen and Diaz. Link

Yall see the Iron Bowl? Man, that’s how you blow a game, Bama. Link 

LSU falls to Arkansas. Link

Boiseand Nevada was AWESOME, I stayed up and watched live. Boo-hooo. Link DanEgg2

Auburnis #1 in the BCS. BARF. Link

State is now #22 in every poll. Link

Caldwell is out at Vandy. Good Choice. Link

Gators fall BIG to FSU. Link 

Your thoughts and opinions on the Egg Bowl?

Is Mullen in control of the rivalry?

Is Chris Relf a ‘true’ duel-threat QB now?

BCS Shake-ups?

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Egg Bowl: #25 Miss. State vs Ole Miss, Preview & Predictions

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

Dan-Mullen-2-200

  Go Get ‘em Dawgs!

Well boys, we are one day away from the 2010 edition of the Egg Bowl. After last year’s 41-27 route of Ole Miss, MSU’s Dan Mullen was handed a microphone and addressed the crowd. “There’s certainly one program in this state that’s definitely on the rise and going in the right direction.” Who would have thought that those words would serve as an almost ‘curse’ to the Rebel football program. Here were are a year later, and the 2009 roles have been completely reversed. Last season, the battle for the Egg looked like this: Ole Miss was 8-3, MSU was 4-7, and the Rebels carried a #25 national ranking into Starkville. When you look at how the stage is set for this year’s game, it’s almost scary. MSU is 7-4, Ole Miss is 4-7, and State carries their #25 ranking into Oxford. Mullen commented earlier in the week about State’s progression and Ole Miss’ degression: “Obviously, since that game to now we are the program on the rise. And we plan to keep it that way.” There’s no doubt that Mullen and the Bulldogs could take hold of the reigns of the rivalry, and have the chance to make it 3 in a row, when the Rebels visit Starkville in 2011. One things for sure, we’ll find out what we need to know on Saturday.

When you play your rival, there’s always a ton of stomach-turning elements that you feel that can work against you. Teams and individual players, have the ability to play above their heads in these type match ups. Trick plays seem to stick and work, and heck, winds can even erase a field goal…even after it’s headed right down the middle.

Before we get into talking about how things will or could shake out in this CRAZY rivalry, let’s refer to what the experts at College Gameday Stats are saying. Keep in mind that you can recieve their weekly news letter, by emailing them at info@collegegamedaystats.com

  • MSU Scoring vs TSUN Opponent Scoring- Advantage MSU
  • MSU Pass Off. vs TSUN Pass Def.- None
  • MSU Rushing vs TSUN Rush Def.- Advantage MSU
  • TSUN Scoring vs MSU Opponent Scoring- Advantage MSU
  • TSUN Pass Off. vs MSU Pass Def.- None
  • TSUN Rush Off. vs MSU Rush Def.- Advantage TSUN

MSU Off. & Def. Leaders

  • QB Chris Relf- 110 ypg passing
  • RB Vick Ballard- 84 ypg rushing
  • WR Chad Bumphis- 53 ypg receiving
  • S Nickoe Whitley- 3 INTs
  • LB Chris White- 96 Tkls, 6 Sacks

TSUN Off. & Def. Leaders

  • QB Jeremiah Masoli- 161 ypg passing
  • RB Brandon Bolden- 84 ypg rushing
  • WR Markeith Summers- 47 ypg receiving
  • DB Charles Sawyer- 2 INTs
  • LB Johnathan Cornell- 4.5 Sacks

Keys to Victory 

(1) Contain TSUN’s Run Game: A mobile QB is always a threat to defenses, and Masoli is just that. His days of dazzling the crowds with long runs and amazing throws, seemed to have been reserved for his days in the Pac 10. The kid is still talented and could without a doubt cause trouble the Manny Diaz’s D on Saturday, but I think we can all admit that he has taken a step down, when considering his former level of performance on the West Coast. Welcome to the SEC. Even though Masoli is not going to bust off 70 yd runs, he could still hurt MSU with his feet, reeling off 5-10 yd runs. state has to eye him in the option game, pressure him on passing plays, and NOT over-pursue on both. When they have the chance to lay the wood to him, or simply get him down, they have to. State has seen the danger of allowing offenses to have second chances on plays. RB Brandon Bolden is the type of RByou have to worry about. Physical, straight on, N/S runner, who is not flashy, but can put distance between himself and defenses in a hurry. State must hold him to his average (85 ypg), and not allow him to get anything else. More than anyone, I’m worried about one player on TSUN’s offense. That player is Jeffery Scott (#3). If Houston Nutt needed a player that could somewhat replicate what Dexter McCluster did in recent years, Scott is the guy. So much acceleration, finds the outside edge with ease, and considering how short Masoli and Scott are, it makes it even harder for the D to eye the read plays. We will really need our DE to penetrate and disrupt the Black Bear OL.

(2) Don’t Give Up on Plays: Masoli’s scrambling abilities will keep the Dawg D busy, and so with that in mind, play til the whistle. Nutt will call for a lot of 2 receiver sets on Saturday, which could result in a number of 1-on-1 situations for our DB, considering our tendency to blitz. State cannot allow their man get too far behind them or in front of them. Broken plays could hurt the Dawgs more than they help them.

(3) Run the Ball/Impose Your Will/Pass Effectively: State got back to their bread n’ butter vs Arkansas, not to mention spicing things up in the passing game. Running the ball as effective as MSU did in that game, led to a 15 min advantage in T.O.P. If the Bulldogs can lean on the Reb DL the way they have done against other teams this season, State will have success on Saturday. On the flip side of that, allowing the opposition to get the ball on fewer possessions and fewer time to work with, means they’ll shoot for big plays, which State has to stop giving up. The option game has the ability to demoralize and frustrate opposing D’s, and State has to do exactly that. When you consider Ole Miss’ mindset, and all the intentions of revenge they will play with, State has to be the ‘more’ physical team on Saturday. They have to hit Ole Miss in the mouth, on both sides of the ball, and respond to adversity better than they have all year. Physicality is key, and any form of submission will crush a team in rivalry match ups. Impose your will, strike early, and don’t give up big plays. I know Mullen is an Offensive Brain, and is well aware of the Rebels’ struggles in defending the pass. With that said, Mullen doesn’t need Relf to throw for as many yards as he did vs Arkansas, but he has to exploit the Rebel D. I do think that if there’s one game in which State could throw deep, it’s against Ole Miss. I expect run blitz packages from the Reb D, with 8 or 9 in the box, which means open receivers. Also, State must eliminate run blitzes on the outside edge, that the Hogs starting implementing in the 2nd half. If we get up by 2 scores, we can’t take our foot off the gas. And I don’t expect Mullen to do that, considering the emphasis he places on winning the Egg. Be PHYSICAL Dawgs!

My Prediction:MSU  34  Ole Miss 20. Since my superstitions can rest, I can now make my predictions straight up, including my individual performance predictions. Here we go…

  • MSU Run Off.- 240 yds
  • MSU Pass Off.- 180 yds
  • QB Chris Relf- 80 yds rushing
  • RB Vick Ballard- 120+ yds rushing
  • WR Chad Bumphis- 60 total yds
  • WR Chris Smith- 30 yds
  • WR Arceto Clark- 45 yds
  • LB Chris White- 14 tkls
  • LB KJ Wright- 12 tkls
  • DT Fletcher Cox- 3 TFL, 1 Sack
  • DE Pernell McPhee- 1 Sack
  • DT Josh Boyd- 1 Sack
  • S Nickoe Whitely- INT, 10tkls
  • S Charles Mitchell- INT
  • Johnthan Banks- INT

Anyway, what’s your predictions?

Individual Performances Predictions as well?

Remember, for the Ole Miss perspective, check out Jake’s Ole Miss Blog. (Link) mcphee1

 

Big Weekend

Auburn vs Bama  34-28

UFvs FSU 20-17

LSU vs Arkansas 24-21

UGAvs GT  38-21

USC vs Clemson 41-17

UK vs UT 28-24 

Arizona vs Oregon  38-28

Okl vs  OSU  41-35

Have a great weekend guys!

 

Go Bulldogs! Beat TSUN!           

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Egg Bowl 2010: MSU & Ole Miss Stat Match Up; A Look at MSU’s Skill Players

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

Happy Thanksgiving to all you guys out there. Hope you guys are having a great time with family and friends. With that said, today’s post is going to be short and sweet. So, with that said, I figured that we would treat today as another Thursday, and post our weekly Stat Match Up Analysis. After that, we’ll take a look at MSU’s SKILL players, in collaboration with Jake’s Ole Miss Blog, who is listing Ole Miss’. 

First things first, lets take a look at how the Bulldogs and Rebels match up against one another and with the rest of the country as well.

MSU TSUN
Total Off. 384 ypg (59th) 406 ypg (41st)
Rush Off. 216 ypg (16th) 220 ypg (14th)
Pass Off. 168 ypg (101st) 186 ypg (88th)
Scoring Off. 26 ppg (65th) 31 ppg (39th)
Total Def. 361 ypg (54th) 390 ypg (75th)
Rush Def. 126 ypg (26th) 147 ypg (53rd)
Pass Def. 234 ypg (88th) 242 ypg (98th)
Scoring Def. 20 ppg (25th) 35 ppg (107th)
T. O. P. 31+ min (22nd) 30+min (35th)

Questions the Stats Ask

  • MSU and TSUN are weak within the facet of Pass Defense, so who has the better day passing, Relf or Masoli?
  • Will MSU play Tyler Russell, in order to capitalize on TSUN’s secondary?
  • Can MSU keep the Rebs and Brandon Bolden from controlling the tempo of the game?
  • State only gives up 20 ppg and TSUN gives up 35 ppg, does MSU have an immediate advantage?
  • With OM’s Melvin Harris suspended for the Egg Bowl, will that effect Masoli’s ability to throw for his usual output?

MSU’s Skill Players

  • QB Chris Relf- 1,220 yds, 55.4%, 7 TDs, 4 INTs; 617 yds rushing, 3.7 avg, 4 TDs
  • RB Vick Ballard- 849 yds rushing, 5.9 avg, 15 TDs
  • RB LaDarius Perkins- 428 yds rushing, 5.4 avg, 3 TDs
  • WR Chad Bumphis- 43 receptions, for 590 yds, a 13.7 avg, and 5 TDs; 19 carries, 131 yds, 7 yd avg
  • WR Arceto Clark- 295 yds, 14 yd avg, 2 TDs
  • WR Brandon Heavens- 285 yds, 15.8 avg, 2 TDs
  • Other Emerging WRs: Chris Smith (177 yds) & Michael Carr (7 touches for 100 yds)

Remember to know your ’most hated’ foe, and stop by Jake’s for TSUN’s list. Link  masoli3

 

News

Season defining win, if the Hogs beat LSU? Link

Chris Low’s Iron Bowl Preview. Link

Chris Low’s picks for this weekend. TSUN over MSU? Link

MSU nominated for Orange Bowl Courage Award. Link

Mullen, Nutt, and Dan’s focus on Masoli and Bolden. Link

Cam Newton junk. Link

State’s not the only ones giving up BIG plays on D. Link

 

COUNTDOWN TO BEATING TSUN:  2 Days…

 

Have a great Thanksgiving! Feel free to post, especially if you need that short, much-needed, mental vacation from your Family…we all do, right? 

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The Egg Bowl: The Importance of Saturday’s Game? MSU’s Perspective vs Ole Miss’

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

eggbowlIt’s Hate Your Neighbor/Boss/Friend/or whoever else you know that went to TSUN week at Allthingsmsu.com! To celebrate I’ve teamed up with Theolemissblog.com’s author Jake Adams to compare and contrast Ole Miss and Mississippi State in preparation for the battle for the Golden Egg. Today we’re starting things off with an analysis of the importance of Saturday night’s contest. We’ll continue to talk throughout the week about the MSU and TSUN match up, even breaking down how the Dawgs and Bears stack up by position. You can get opinions from the MAROON view here, but don’t forget to check out the Red & Blue-colored view over on Jake’s Ole Miss Blog. Be sure to make rude and obnoxious comments while you’re there…let’s keep it clean though.

So, with that said, let’s kickoff Egg Bowl Week 2010, with today’s question…

What does the Egg Bowl mean to me?

First and foremost, I feel blessed to be a part of one of the nation’s best rivalries. In many cases around the country, teams have multiple so-called ‘rivalries’, which deludes what true ‘rivalries’ are all about. I know State fans such as myself loath Alabama, but my true dislike is reserved for The School Up North. Mississippi State and Ole Miss are 2 institutions that share 2 different cultures, that in my opinion are geared against one another. I believe that in some way, your institution identifies and helps shape the kind of person you are, and I’m a Bulldog. I come from a blue-collar, hard working, military family. I know every school has it’s stereotypes, some are without a doubt embellished, but there is usually some truth to those beliefs. And it’s in those characteristics of your respective institution that somewhat define you as a person.

As far as the Egg Bowl itself, it’s the heart of the rivalry and the meeting that matters the most. It was a single football game 108 years ago that set the stage for hatred, and it’s been that way ever since. Our basketball and baseball teams provide us a nice appetizer, but there’s nothing like Thanksgiving week for these 2 schools, and families around the state. Now in saying that, I want to be careful not to advertise myself as one of those that would trade beating Ole Miss for a losing season. It’s a game that I never want to lose, but it only makes or breaks State’s season if losing the Egg results in not making it to the postseason. There’s danger and reward for investing too much in one game, especially a ‘rivalry’ game. The Egg Bowl is always an intriguing match up, in that the underdog almost always has some kind of edge. You don’t have to look any further than last year’s 41-27 victory by MSU, who entered the game with only 4 wins to their name, while Ole Miss was on their way to their second straight Cotton Bowl. There are a lot of what I would call ‘fun’ rivalries, but this is not one of them. It’s not as ruthless as Auburn and Alabama can get, but it can get ugly, and there is just as much hatred. The fans hate each other, and usually the players carry out that passion onto the field. You also can’t discount what the Egg means within the arena of recruiting. For that 4 or 5 Star recruit who is on the fence-when it comes to choosing MSU or Ole Miss, the outcome of this game can provide that extra nudge in a certain direction.

I think the most important aspect of each year’s game, is what it means to the momentum of the 2 programs. Take last year for example, I think it was pivotal for the Bulldogs to earn that win, because it more or less evened the rivalry’s tug-of-war. Ole Miss had State in a very vulnerable position, winning 9 games in back-to-back seasons, with 2 Cotton Bowl appearances. In 2008, the first year of that stretch, the Rebels crushed MSU 45-0. MSU finished with just 3 wins, and a day later State was without a coach. The Bulldog program seemed in shambles, and Ole Miss’ blow out of State was just icing on the cake for the Rebels. Ole Miss would taste success once gain in 2009, coming into the Egg Bowl with 7 wins on the season, already having earned their bowl eligibility. Down the road in Starkville, Dan Mullen had re-energized the Bulldog fanbase and program, but had only won 4 games during his first year as MSU’s head coach. In the end, State went on to pound Ole Miss 41-27, and it was clear that if MSU was able to build on that win, that a successful 2010 season was indeed a possibility. Mullen’s words after the Egg Bowl, seemed to solidify that State was headed in the right direction. At the beginning of this season, I pointed to the fact that this could very well be the year that MSU grabbed momentum of the rivalry, and that Mullen could possibly run with it for some time to come. Here we are, State is 7-4, while Ole Miss is 4-7, and it appears that these are 2 teams headed in the opposite directions. Crucial, pivotal year? I’d say so. State just might have Ole Miss in that same vulnerable position that the Rebs had State in, back in 2009. A win on Saturday, could put a microscope on Houston Nutt’s job performance next season, and would have the same annual battle headed to Starkville in 2011. And, we know what home field advantage means to this rivalry.

For MSU, finishing the 2010 regular season with 8 wins, could say a lot about where the Dawgs end up bowling. There’s a fine line between Memphis, Atlanta, and Nashville. And, don’t think for one minute, that TSUN does not want to help determine the destination.  Finally, this rivalry means a lot to both schools, so don’t let the people in Oxford act as if it’s not that big of a deal when MSU wins. For some reason, that’s always the case. State wins, Rebel fans exit as soon as possible and act as if it never happened. Ole Miss wins, and brag about it just as much as Bulldog fans would. I guess we’ll see just HOW important this year’s Egg Bowl is to Ole Miss, now that the role of underdog has been reversed.

Anyway, that’s how I feel about the Egg Bowl in general.

You click (here) for a link to Jake’s Ole Miss Blog, which includes his feelings about the battle for the Golden Egg.

How important do you feel the Egg Bowl is? 

Is there an added importance on the game this year?

And, HOW much do you HATE Ole Miss?

 

_____SEC News_____

Special thanks to TSUN WR Melvin Harris, he is suspended for the Egg Bowl. We won’t have to worry about his 6-7frame now. Btw, Harris was the Rebs’ 2nd leading receiver. For some reason KV at the CL, keeps placing him above Markeith Summers. Link

Kyle Veazy also has an in-depth stat break down of Stateand OM. Link

Mullen wants to keep MSU as the ‘lone’ program on the rise. Nice read. Link

The Top 3 teams in the country are facing major challenges this week…maybe not Oregon. Link

Good win for the Dawgs last night. Stansbury’s boys are 3-0 on the young season, after topping Detroit 82-76. Link

 

That’s it boys! GO-State!

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#13 Arkansas Survives #22 Miss. State 38-31 (in 2 O.T.), Game Notes and Recap

Mississippi State
Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.

Chris_RelfOn a night where fortune met misfortune on numerous occasions, #21 MSU fell to #13 Arkansas 38-31, in one of the most intense and emotional games, that’s ever been played on the surface of Scott Field. MSU and Arkansas, alternated the role of the victim, as closed doors seemed to open at the most inopportune time for both teams throughout the night. The end result left MSU fans stunned, disappointed, but mostly PROUD of their team’s effort. Long story short, State could not have had worse things happen to them when they did. We’ll talk more about some of those misfortunes, as we make our way through our game recap. Here’s my game notes from the match up between the Bulldogs and Hogs.

(1) The BAD…Defense? What happened to BEND but don’t BREAK?: One thing was clear on Saturday night, and that’s that we didn’t force one of the best QBs in the country, to make tough throws. Mallet benefited from quick screens, open WRs, and allowing his target’s feet to do the dirty work. On his 26 drop backs, Mallet was sacked twice (LB White and DE McPhee), and hurried just 2 other times. One of those hurries resulted in an INTby Nickoe Whitley, which was easily one of the top plays in College Football on Saturday. Other than that, poor tackling, and blown assignments opened the door for big plays, taking away the need to drive the ball down field. Against Bama, State gave up big plays that were uncharacteristic of Manny Diaz’s Defense, allowing scores of 45, 78, and 56 yards. Nails, coffin, ballgame. State has forced teams to drive the length of the field for the entire year, but vs Bama and Arkansas, the Bulldogs have seemed to have lost their identity. Against the Hogs, State gave up scores of 62, 25, and 89 yards. On the 62 yd run by Kniles Davis:Dawg DE Pernell McPhee penetrated the backfield, but was held from behind, and brought down from behind by his blocker (no call). Even after Davishit the hole, the MSU secondary didn’t show the physicality that it takes to shed a blocker, both Safeties over pursued the play, which eliminated the second level of defense. No second level, means all a runner has to do is make it past the line of scrimmage. Easy TD. On the 25 yd Screen pass to DJ Williams: Diazed dialed up a blitz from the strong side, while the Hog OL patiently waited to allow State’s blitz to once again-over pursue. As Whitley and others came after Mallet, not one MSU player put their hands up to bat the pass (which was a low dart), and Williams simply cut across the Secondary by following his blocks. Easy TD. On the 89 yd TD pass to Jarius Wright: Busted zone coverage. We disguised the look by having Chris White shading Wright from the snap, as Wright’s pattern broke off, and another WR entered White’s zone that he is responsible for, White correctly shifted to his zone and shaded the new receiver. The problem is, KJ Wright was caught eyeing the back field-about the same time he realized his zone was uncovered. After that, it just got worse. Nickoe Whitley, who was not only out of place to start the play, ended up in pursuit of Arkansas’ Jarius Wright (who caught the pass). Nickoe sacrificed a TD saving tackle opportunity around the MSU 30 yd line, for the chance to re-adjust his angle for a strip. The Speed of the WR won the race, and MSU found itself down 3. Easy TD. And a BONUS break down for you readers, 7 yd TD pass to Kniles Davis in Double OT: MSU Safety Charles Mitchell showed blitz on the edge, while DE Sean Fergeson was supposed to show a zone read on the perimeter, in the flat. On the snap, Mitchell blitzed, Fergeson did not keep an eye on Davis the RB, who became a receiver out of the back field on a short delay. Fergeson saw the play developing, but was too far inside to recover.Easy TD. Anyone throwing up on their keyboard yet? The fact is, this HAS to be FIXED. The Offense was responsible for State’s 2 week long identity crisis, but the night they return to MSU’s style of football, the D performs poorly for the 2nd week in a row. Poor tackling, missed assignments, and a lack of physicality cost us. When the Offense plays as well as they did, there’s no way you can let them down with that kind of performance. We forced Arkansas into our kind of game on Offense, but not on Defense. We handed the Hogs the game on D. Now, with that said, we forced 3 turnovers, and showed some grit when we had to, but we have A LOT to clean up, with just a few days to do so. Either we are displaying a lack of execution, or other teams have figured Diaz out. Too many plays where guys went ‘untouched’. One more thing, Corey Broomfield needs to stop playing ‘shy’ football and man up and hit somebody. Poor, poor play from a good football player.

(2) The Good…Hats off to the Offense:If you would have told me on Friday that State would have finished with 32 First Downs, 486 total yards, with a 15 minute advantage in the Time of Possession battle, there’s no way I would have picked us to lose (I didn’t anyway). QB Chris Relf had thebest game of his career, finishing the night 20-30 for 224 yds, with another 103 yds on the ground. Relf tallied 1 TD, on his 23 yd TD run. Say what you will about the kid, but it was his reads and scrambling abilities that led to scores on MSU’s final 2 drives in regulation, that resulted in 10 points, and new life for the Bulldogs in O.T. Relf did a great job of protecting the ball in the passing game, with all but one of his passes having the possibility of being picked. There were a few not-so-great throws, but there werealso some catches that needed to be made. Like I always say, playmakers make plays. He missed all of his deep shots, but they ended up being effective in loosening up the Hog D, with the exception of the game’s final possession. Relf had a chance on 3rd down, but misfired to the inside of WR Arceto Clark on the goal line. Could this be the confidence building game that Relf needed, in order to become a duel threat QB? Anyway, RB Vick Ballard played his heart out. 33 carries for 150 yds, and 3 TDs. I believe he is 1 shy of the school season record. His heart, motor, and physical nature, earns him 2-3 yds more than is actually there. Enough cannot be said about his effort and determination. If I can’t have Anthony Dixon, give me Vick Ballard. I think we all saw the emergence of a future star on Saturday night, in WR Chris Smith. The Meridian native was clutch, pulling down 5 catches for 78 yds. 3rd Down go-to guy? I think so. WR Chad Bumphis was solid (5 for 45), and Arceto Clark made some difficult catches to extend drives (3 for 29). I’m really liking what I’m seeing from Michael Carr, though he finished with just 1 catch for 9 yds, he is doing a lot of the little things right, such as blocking. MSU finished with 262 yds on the ground, 224 yds through the air, and with 37:24 of possession time. The Dawgs had scoring drives of 86, 70, 60, 75, and 47 yards. Keep this up, and a 9 win season is completely a reality.

(3) The Ugly…Unfortunate Happenings:I know you guys are already asking yourselves about why I haven’t mentioned the fumbles, etc., but as you can see, I was saving it for this section. In my opinion, 5things killed MSU on Saturday night. State was up 21-17 in the 3rd Qtr, and had 2 things go against them. (1) When driving across midfield, MSU faced a 3rd Down and 7: Relf threw to an open Arceto Clark (out of his break), but was hit extremely early before the ball arrived…NO call. Even Arkansas’ sideline knew it. Killed a nice drive, and the officials HAVE to throw the flag there and didn’t. (2) After stopping Arkansas, State’s ensuing possession was moving along smoothly, until Chris Relf fumbled. Relf fought for a 6 yd gain, and as he was being brought down at the Ark 22, took a helmet to his ball-carrying arm. The hit knocked the ball loose JUST before Relf’s knee was down. After a personal foul after the play on the Hogs, the next play went for an 89 yd Arkansas score. (3) The heartbreaker. During MSU’s first O.T. possession, Vick Ballard hit the outside edge on a 13 yd run, did all he could do to stay in his feet, and dove for the pylon with the ball extended, only to have the ball knocked out of his hands. The ball carried over the pylon in the air, resulting in a touch back for Arkanasa. No doubt that MSU had ALL the momentum at that point, and the score probably would have been the game winner. (4) On back-to back plays, MSU hurt themselves once again. On the first play, State faced a 3rd down in Double O.T., and Chris Relf missed an open Arceto Clark on a slant route. The pass and the extra point, would have tied the game, and extended the Dawgs’ life. (5) On the next play, something that I have preached all year long, happened once again. Chris Relf was left all alone in the backfield in a critical passing situation, this time on 4th Down. I’ve discouraged empty sets for the MSU QBs, because it eliminates the extra protection that they are more than likely going to need. As soon as the ball was snapped, State’s most reliable OL for the past 3 years, missed the end-around block (Derek Sherrod), and Relf hardly had time to think. Relf was sacked, and Arkansas prevailed 38-31. It really hurts, when your top guys, and your most reliable guys fall short. To me, the Defense rarely made Arkansas work for their points, and made costly mistakes. With that said, Relf, Ballard, and Sherrod played their butts off.

(4) Grading the Coaches:Def. Coordinator Manny Diaz ( C-) has a lot to clean up, in order to properly prepare for TSUN. Their misdirection and option game is very STRONG. We need to practice tackling, and find some toughness before Saturday night. The D created 3 turnovers, but the quick and easy scores cannot continue to happen. Off. Coordinator Les Koenning (B+) had a much better game than I expected. I think there was 2 or 3 terrible play calls, but to be 4 of 5 on 4th Downs, you are doing something right. Stay away from 3rd Down calls that have any hesitation, and empty sets for our QBs. Dan Mullen (A-), I really like the fake punt, even though we got the first down by a literal inch. His time management was strong, he gets after the officials, and keeps his emotions in check. Gotta light a fire under Diaz to make an adjustment or two. Something.

(5) Stadium Atmosphere: Amazing. I went back and watched the replay, and I can tell yall that we are slowly but surely becoming an extremely LOUD enviornment to play in. UK struggled with the noise, and I believe we drew Arkansas offsides 3 times. Not bad. The stadium looks great (full), people are learning to yell, and we make quite the impression on TV. Keep doing our job, and Maroon out Oxford this weekend. Make no mistake, we are a big part of our Bulldogs’ 5-2 mark at home. 10th straight home sell-out. Great job of remembering Nick Bell. Loved his #36 out there on the field, along with the maroon 36 yardlines. When I heard that lone cowbell ringing during the moment of silence, and looked up to see Nick Bell’s mom ringing her cowbell, that was an emotional moment. 

Mullen on the loss: “For us to continue to build, for our young players to develop, it’s not that they have to make 25 plays in a game, they have to make the one big play at the key moment in the game. That, for us, is what we need to take that next step to be right at the top in the SEC instead of the middle.”

 

Anyway guys, you thoughts on the game? Best loss you’ve ever seen?nick_bell3

Agree or Disagree with any of my Game Notes and Opinions?

How would you grade the coaches?

Where are we going bowling?

Looks like Saturday is going to come down to the team that responds better after a tough loss, huh?

 

We’ll start talking about the Black Bears tomorrow.

-2 game season for Auburn. Link

-What we learned in the SEC during Week 12, Chris Low. Link

-Bowl Projections. Link

-We are now ranked #25th and Arkansas is #12.

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