This weekend it's #18 Arkansas at their place. The Razorbacks are 6-6 in the league, in sole position of second place in the west and are heating up. They just completed a sweep of LSU last weekend and are starting to show lots of balance and solid fundamental play to go with some very good pitching. On top of that, it's always tough to go to Fayetteville and win no matter the circumstance. It is a tough home field advantage and their 16-3 home record testifies to it.
The Hogs are hitting a respectable .274 as a team with a 3.02 team ERA. Not bad at the college level. If you only give up 3 runs a game you're doing something, and you're gonna win a lot of ballgames. They have a little pop, 2 players have 5 HR each, and lately they seem to be swinging the bats well. And they LOVE to run. They have 69 stolen bases in 32 games, so Thigpen better be ready to throw and the pitchers need to hold those guys on base.
They're led by Jr second baseman Bo Bigham who's riding a 12 game hitting streak and carries a .311 batting average. Helping him out is their slugging freshman first baseman Dominic Ficocielli who's hitting .336. These two will be the key outs in the batting order. In the field they're good but not great. They've committed 45 errors this year and it has hurt them at times.
On the mound is where they shine. DJ Baxendale is the staff ace and he'll go probably Friday (maybe Saturday, the Hogs have mixed up their rotation a time or two). He is followed by Brandon Moore and then probably Randall Fant on Sunday. They have held opponents to a .229 average, have only allowed 11 homeruns and they are good at getting the strikeout. The knock is that they have a tendency to run deep into the count and throw a lot of pitches, putting some pressure on the bullpen.
So, it seems to me that when you look at these teams on paper they're almost identical. Respectable at the plate but not stellar, solid pitching, average to good defense. These are two very evenly matched teams. The problem is the Hogs are hot right now, the Dogs aren't. But, here's the deal, after this weekend State has South Carolina and Alabama. They could very well get 4 or 5 losses in those two series, which makes this weekend is crucial for State's post-season hopes. Drop 2 or 3 here and the season could turn disastrous in a hurry. I think we'll look back at this weekend and realize this is when the season turned for better or for worse. They gotta get at least 2 here. They've got to.
Cohen has mixed up the rotation and Stratton will go tomorrow, Routt on Saturday with Sunday to be determined. That doesn't matter. The starting pitching hasn't been the problem, and we all know what has. So, I'm calling out the seniors. State has struggled at the plate, especially in key situations with runners in scoring position. As a result, they have some one or two or three run losses that are hard to stomach. They've been able to set the table, but nobody is bringing home the groceries. That's why I'm calling on the seniors to step up. MSU has 7 senior position players, all of whom contribute in different areas. This means that in those key situations there's a good chance one of those seniors will be at the plate. Those are the guys who have to deliver. They should be accustomed to the pressure. They should know what to expect. They should be able to deliver. It's up to them if State gets a postseason birth this year. If the season ends in disappointment, they'll have only themselves to blame. So it starts this weekend. Take care of business in Arky and things will be looking good.
Ogden, Parks, Shepherd, Vickerson, Freeman, Thigpen, Collins, you guys have to make it happen. Bulldog nation is pulling for you and I know Cohen has shown you guys the schedule and preached the importance of this series. You gotta get it done. Go Dawgs!
First, they lost DT Shackleford to a knee injury. He was the anchor of their defense at linebacker and the team's emotional leader. Now, there's talk that true freshman CJ Johnson will have to fill that void.
Now, it was just announced that QB Nathan Stanley will transfer.
In regards to Shackleford, all indications are that he is a great kid and very talented. You always hate to see something like that happen to a young man of good character. He'll probably miss the 2011 season. It's a shame and I wish him well with his recovery. I'm sure he'll be back strong.
As for Stanley, I've always thought that Nutt screwed this kid. Stanley showed some promise at the end of the '09 season and looked ready to step in and take over at QB for the team. Then, Nutt goes into the "people helpin bizness" and brings in Mr. Masoli, tossing Stanley aside like Colonel Reb and Dixie. Of course, the Masoli experiment was a dismal failure and Stanley lost an entire year of experience as a starter. Seems like it set him back a bit.
Looking at their roster, Stanley is the only QB who has any Division I game experience and yet, according to Veazey, he is listed at 4th on the depth chart.
And so he's taking off. I don't blame him. TSUN will be playing with 3 QBs who have a grand total of ZERO Division I snaps under their belts. Good luck with that in the SEC. Mr. Nutt never ceases to amaze me.
Why not take the midweek opportunity to look around at some other spring-summer sports and see how the Bulldogs are doing?
Men's Tennis: These guys appear to be on a roll, with recent victories over Alabama and #21 Auburn. State has climbed to #21 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association polls. Even better, with their victory this past weekend they have clinched the SEC Western division championship. One match remains and that is with TSUN this weekend in Starkville. State has four players in the top 100 individual rankings nationally. Great job for Coach Per Nilsson and the boys.
Men's Golf: There are 6 SEC teams ranked in the top 25 right now but State isn't one of them. In fact, State is currently ranked 12th in the SEC. The Dogs are young and learning. They haven't finished a tournament better than 5th this year and the SEC Championships are coming up this weekend. The good news is that State is led by freshman Chad Ramey and sophomore Brad Mason. They are young, and the two of them own 3 of State's 4 top 10 finishes this year so at least the future looks a little brighter.
Outdoor Track & Field: Currently ranked 6th in the nation, State has it's best team in a long time. This year has seen many personal and school records fall. The women have set a new school record for the 4X 200 meter relay, and Talisha Lee now owns the school record in the 400 meter hurdles. They were the top performing SEC team at the recent SEC vs Big 10 Challenge. This past weekend, State did well at the Texas Relays. For the men, D'Angelo Cherry finished 3rd in the 100m and Ed Wesela won the shot put. Emanual Mayers took 4th in the 400m hurdles. For the women, Alyssa Hall took 2nd in the high jump while the 4x1500 m relay team finished 3rd. State has very strong relay teams in both men's and women's divisions. They are poised to compete for the SEC title at the May 12-15 championships and may make some noise at the NCAA championships. Stay tuned.
Softball: The Lady Dogs are currently 21-21 and 8-8 in SEC. Best of all, they took 2 of 3 from TSUN. They are in a good position right now with 4 SEC series remaining before the conference tournament.
So, overall the Dogs are staying competitive in more than just the big 3 sports.
After the big 3, what's your favorite sport to follow?
How are State's chances at an SEC or NCAA title in outdoor?
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Good: State has put Vandy, Florida and Georgia behind them early in the season and still has time to regroup and make a charge to assure themselves a slot and a decent seed in the SEC tournament. Bad: State is 1-5 in their last 6 SEC games and is reeling at the plate. Despite the tough schedule they can't be happy with the way they've swung the bats.
Good: Pitching continues to look solid (aside from that 18 run embarrasment on Saturday). Take that away and State pitching has done a good job holding some good lineups in check. The bullpen shined on Friday to secure the win, especially Pollorena and Reed. Bad: If you can't score it doesn't matter how good your pitching is. State was 3-21 with runners in scoring position this weekend, following a weekend where they stranded over 20 on base.
Good: State hitters seemed to break out of their funk Friday when they chased on of the nation's best pitchers early. Hudson Randall was yanked after recording only 7 outs against the Dogs, by far his worst outing of the year. Bad: After Friday, State scored only one run the rest of the weekend.
Good: Nick Routt looked great today, shutting down a potent Gator lineup and throwing 88 pitches. He may be emerging as our new ace. Bad: State may be in need of a new ace after Chris Stratton's performance on Saturday. Granted, it may be partly due to a tight strikezone, but Stratton just couldn't throw a strike. Not good. Hopefully it's a fluke and won't happen again.
Good: There was outstanding attendance. 25,000 saw the weekend series at Dudy Noble. Over 36,000 at the spring football game. That's unprecedented and a good measure of the excitement behind MSU athletics. Bad: Over 10,000 people and a regional television audience witnessed that horrific performance by the diamond dogs on Saturday. 18-0? Really?
Good: State's defense looked good at the spring game with the Maroon team recording 5 sacks including 2 by Ferlando Bohanna who is one of the young LBs that we need to step up this year. Bad: The White team had 2 or 3 Offensive line starters. Not a good sign when you figure SEC championships are won in the trenches.
Good: Dylan Favre looked better than expected, not only with his arm but with his feet. He may be a better spread QB than most of us thought. Bad: Tyler Russell looked worse than expected. Granted, he didn't look bad but still not quite as good as I hoped. Some latitude may need to be granted here considering that he was running for his life for a good part of the time.
That's all I got. Anyone else want to add their own Good/Bad about the weekend? no comments
Who you got in the spring game: Maroon or White (or Relf vs. Russell)?
Hopefully no one actually watched that national championship game last night…painful.
Instead, I watched the Rangers baseball game. I’m pulling for Mitch Moreland to put together another good season and earn his way into the starting lineup. More on that later this week or next.
Today, I saw an entry on B. Marcello’s C-L blog that sparked my interest. Scott Stricklin recently announced that State will honor its previous football greats with their own version of a “ring of honor” at Scott Field. I think it’s a great idea and way past due. The first four names to be included will be announced soon. That gave me an idea. Who would I choose for that list?
Some great names immediately came to mind, so I thought I would share them and get everyone else’s take. But before I do, I must include my disclaimer. I was born in ’75 which means that I’m only familiar with Bulldog greats dating back to the early 80s. For that reason, I know there will be some names left off my list that should be included. The obvious ones are there (DD Lewis, etc).
Now, I could easily look in the record books, do a little research, or rely on some of the stories I’ve heard from older and wiser Bulldog fans to come up with some names that should be included. But since this is all in good fun I’m not gonna do that. Instead, I’m picking from the players I am familiar with, guys that I have seen and cheered for (either at State or later in their pro career). Yes, I know the list is incomplete so I apologize in advance. Please feel free to add any pre-1980 names to the list.
Secondly, I am only including names that should be honored. They must have represented the program and the university well. These are the guys that make us proud both on and off the field. When we speak of them, it’s with a raised chin and a puffed out chest. So, sorry, no Jackie Sherrill or Fred Smoot (even though I am huge fans of both).
So here it is, let me know what you guys think. The ATM Bulldog ring of honor. (Yes, I know this is kind of lame and has been done before…so what. It’s still fun!)
Pork Chop Womack
So who did I miss?
Tough in-state game tonight, what are the keys to a Bulldog victory? Anyone going to the game?no comments
Coming into this weekend Georgia had hit only 9 homeruns in 25 games. They hit 4 over the weekend, and each one was crucial when you're talking about close ballgames. Before the weekend, Georgia pitching was surrendering nearly 6 runs a ballgame. They allowed 5 against State over the series. Go figure.
So what to make of this? Heck, I don't know. State seemed to be hitting the ball hard, just right at people, and Georgia was making the defensive plays when they needed to be made. State seemed to be pitching well, and in truth if you only give up 4 runs a game in college ball you would think your team would win at least one of those games. But it didn't happen. Bottom line, Georgia came up with the big hits when they needed them and State didn't. Bottom line, Georgia made the pitches when they needed to be made and State didn't. Bottom line, there really is no way of explaining it except to say "that's baseball". There will be games like this, series like this. It doesn't mean State is worse than we thought because I don't think they are. It doesn't mean Georgia is that much better than us because I don't think they are. What it does mean is that Georgia was hot and State wasn't. That's baseball.
So the Dogs will limp back to Starkville and lick their wounds, but they'd better lick fast because things don't get any easier with the Gators coming into town next weekend. And the way things have gone thus far I wouldn't be surprised if a different Bulldog team showed up. I wouldn't be surprised to see us take 2 or maybe even 3 from Florida. Call me crazy, but that's baseball.
So here we are a third of the way through the conference season and the way I see it the SEC can be split up into 3 different divisions. The 4 primo teams are Florida, Vandy, Bama and South Carolina. The 4 teams on the outside looking in for the tournament are Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas. And then you have the middle 4 who will have to battle with those outside-looking-in teams for their tournament spots: LSU, State, TSUN and Georgia. State will have weekends like this, they just have to bounce back quickly and they need to find more consistency. I still see them making the SEC tourney and thus the NCAA regionals.
What do you guys think?
Will State return to the post-season, or should we consider this one final rebuilding year before we see fireworks next year? no comments
First off I want to say thanks to Brett and the bloguin boys for agreeing to let me carry the baton for a while. I hope you fans of the blog all stick around and continue the discussions we’ve had here in the past. I’m a fifth generation Bulldog with lots of memories of Starkville, practically grew up in the Left Field Lounge, and knew all the words to “Hail, dear old State” by first grade. There are few things that sound sweeter than a cowbell chorus and few things that beat Scott Field on a cool autumn Saturday.
I have lots of memories of names like Tommy Raffo, Daryl Wilson, BJ Wallace, Tony James and Sleepy Robinson among others who blew me away with their athletic ability and their maroon & white pride. I went nuts when Burke Masters bashed a grand slam against Florida State in 1990 to send MSU to Omaha, lost my mind when Kevin Prentiss caught a punt and streaked down the sideline in the SEC championship to give State the lead, and cried when time expired on State’s final four loss to Syracuse. The ups and downs make for great memories, so I think this is gonna be fun and I hope you guys enjoy. With that being said, we’ve got a big baseball series coming up.
I am hardly a pessimist when it comes to Bulldog sports, but I do have a small concern about this weekend. We all enjoyed last week’s sweep as the Dawgs busted out some whoopin’ sticks on Auburn. The problem is I just don’t know how to measure State right now. One out of three from Vandy is nothing to sneeze at. They’ve done very well in the non-conference (except for those head-scratchers against Iowa). And sweeping the #20 team in the nation usually suggests big things, but I’d like to see a good showing this weekend before I get too excited about State’s return to baseball glory.
The thing is I’m afraid Auburn was over-rated. To put it simply, their pitching is dismal. They’re gonna give up a lot of runs this year and I question whether or not they’ll make the SEC tourney. So, I hate to say it, but I have to take the sweep with a grain of salt. This weekend will tell us much more about our Diamond Dogs.
Georgia wasn’t expected to do much on the diamond this year, but they’ve surprised us a bit. They are currently 6-8 against ranked teams. They went 1-2 against Baylor, S. Carolina and Florida St. They’ve beaten Bama, UCLA and USC, and most impressively they swept a double-header last Sunday against LSU.
They’re led by staff ace Michael Palazzone and this guy is a stud. The junior right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA, 31 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched, opponents batting avg of .255, and has only allowed three walks. THREE walks in 37 innings! He’ll probably get the start on Saturday and State better be ready to swing the bat because this guy comes after you.
Tyler Maloof is their bullpen ace with 8 saves (leading the SEC) and 14 Ks in 9.2 innings pitched, but his ERA is nearly eight so he isn't untouchable. But you still don't want to have to come from behind against a guy who strikes out more than one per inning.
They’ve been a bit anemic at the plate with only 9 homeruns in 25 games and a .261 team batting avg. Junior SS Levi Hyams has proven to be their toughest out, leading the team in batting avg, runs, hits, total bases, slugging pct, walks and on-base pct. This is the guy we don’t want at the plate with the game on the line.
So what does this all mean to me? Well, this is a key series and the Dawgs need to take at least two of three in Athens with the Gators coming to town next weekend. Devin Jones has to step up tonight. Stratton has been solid and Routt seems to be returning to form. So the Friday night game is critical. Devin Jones has shown promise, but he has to bring it all together if State is gonna make noise in the SEC, and tonight especially. Win the Friday night game and a sweep is very possible, two outta three is almost a given. Lose tonight and we may be in for a huge disappointment.
Georgia is not a power team so State can be aggressive on the mound and not worry about nibbling at the corners. Just throw strikes and let the defense play. Give up walks, errors and allow baserunners like LSU did on Sunday and it may be a long weekend for MSU.
I think Cohen has these boys focused. They’re hot and they’re confident. Three wins would be nice, but I’d take two on the road in the SEC any day. Tonight will be the key the game, win this one and we’re sitting pretty.
Your thoughts?no comments
As for me, I can't say thank you enough for yalls' support throughout the past 2 and a half years and for your kind words on Monday and Tuesday. I'm pleased to say that it's not farewell for me after all! I'll be around to post, vent, and share my thoughts just like you guys. I hope that we can continue the same atmosphere that we've built here at All Things Maroon. As for those invites to tailgate gatherings, I hope they are still on?
With that said, I'm stepping aside! Have at it Washburn.
Btw...Go Dawgs!!! Sweep UGA!!! no comments