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Written by Brett Holloway | 24 November 2010

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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Written by Brett Holloway | 22 November 2010

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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Written by Brett Holloway | 21 November 2010

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 Davis hit 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, 5 things 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. Mullen said that Sherrod did not hear the change in the cadence from Relf, which was to point out coverage. The ball was snapped, Sherrod wasn't quite ready, and that was it. It really hurts, when your top guys, and your most reliable guys fall short. In Relf and Ballard's case, they were just trying to get more yards, doing what's asked of them on every play. The 2 did just that, and in their efforts were penalized for doing so. I really feel bad for Ballard, you could tell he was heartbroken and didn't have the words to describe what he was going through. 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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Written by Brett Holloway | 18 November 2010

davis_wade_stadiumTomorrow will mark the first time since 2001, that 2 ranked opponents have squared off on the surface of Scott Field. #13 Arkansas comes to town as one of the hottest teams in the SEC, and are winners of 4 straight.

#21 MSU, is trying to build on their 7 win season, and is coming off a loss to Bama, that snapped a 6 game winning streak. Even though there is only 5 losses between the 2 teams, neither is eligible for the SEC Championship game, but both are focused on bettering their postseason bowl destinations. Want a history lesson?

  • Arkansas leads series 13-6-1
  • Average Score-  Ark  22  MSU  16
  • Last 2 Meetings- (2009) Ark  42-21  (2008)  MSU  31-28
  • MSU is 4-5vs Arkansas in Starkville

With history aside, let's take a look at what the experts are saying about the Hogs and Dogs. As always we will be referring to what the odds-makers at College Gameday Stats has to say. Info@collegegamedaystats.com

  • MSU Scoring vs Ark Opponent Scoring: Advantage Hogs
  • MSU Pass Off. vs Ark Pass Def.: Advantage Hogs
  • MSU Rush Off. vs Ark Pass Def.: Advantage Bulldogs
  • Ark Scoring vs MSU Opponent Scoring: No Advantage
  • Ark Pass Off. vs MSU Pass Def.: Advantage Hogs
  • Ark Rush Off. vs MSU Rush Def.: Advantage Bulldogs
  • College Gameday Stats Pick:  MSU

 Keys to Victory

(1) Run-Dawgs-Run: State faces the most explosive offense they've seen all year in Arkansas' on Saturday. With as much that is said about Arkansas' ability to score with relative ease, one thing that is ignored is their ability to control the clock when they want to. State has done an excellent job of keeping the ball away from most teams, by wearing down defenses with their 18th ranked rushing attack. But as much as people focus on that aspect of State's game plan, the Hogs rank just one spot below the Bulldogs in Time of Possession. State needs to run the football effectively, and keep the chains moving. Just weeks ago, it was the UK Wildcats that gave the Dawgs a dose of their own medicine, rushing the football and eating up clock. State cannot allow that to happen on Saturday. This game comes down to one thing for MSU, and that's the play of the OL. JC Brignone and Derek Sherrod will be taking Scott Field for the final time on Saturday, and they will have to be the catalyst for State. QB Chris Relf, RB Vick Ballard, and RB LaDarious Perkins will have to have success in running the option. And, I would like to see short passes to those RBs, as an extension of the run game. Even in a 30-10 loss to Bama, there were some nice blocks and runs at times. State had some success on 3rd Downs (50%), and Ballard and Perkins were just a step away from breaking loose on more than one occasion. If the Dawgs take those positives into account, and the fact that they are on their home turf (5-1 at home), good things could happen. State needs 5 guys doing their job, so that they can impose their will on the Hogs. Doing just that, will keep the ball away from Arkansas' Ryan Mallet and RB Kniles Davis. Running the ball also means minimizing room for mistakes such as turnovers. The last thing we need, is to Mallet with extra possessions and opportunities. Hand it off, and as my dad says, "Let that dog eat!"

(2) Redzone Focus: State's D has to buckle down on the Arkansas Offense inside the 20 yd line. The Hogs have scored on 37 of 40 opportunities in the redzone this season, good for 92.5%. On the other hand, State must take advantage of Arkansas' Defense in the the redzone, where the Hogs give up scores 85% of the time (23-27). State has failed to convert trips into points this season Offense, only scoring 77% of the time (27-35). Mann Diaz's D though, is doing a nice job of only allowing scores 73% of the time (22-30). Which I believe is good for 3rd in the conference.

(3) DL Must Pressure Mallet: Arkansas has an outstanding QB in Mallet, but they also have a number of dangerous targets. WRs Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Cobi Hamilton, TE DJ Williams, all have right at 400 yards receiving or more. And, to make it worse, RBs Ronnie Wingo and Kniles Davis have good hands, and are dangerous in open space. The Bulldogs will have to pressure Mallet up front, and attack him before the likes of Adams and Wright can break away from coverage. Petrino does an excellent job of misdirecting opposing defenses-not with the run, but with the pass. State cannot allow sections of the field to go unmanned. Manny Diaz must make sure that Mallet is getting hit in pressure situations, not just hurried. The 6-6 QB, has struggled after taking a few hits during the past 2 seasons, and the Dawgs must attack early and often. Doing so, has the ability to force QBs into mistakes, which State will need a few of on Saturday.

(4) Win the Special Teams' Battle:As important as Offense and Defense is to a game, Special Teams is KEY. It's what happens on plays in this facet, that can earn you points, or set the stage for the upcoming possession. P Heath Hutchins has to keep the field position tuggle in MSU's favor, and we cannot afford to give Mallet the short field. State needs to stay true in punt coverage, where the Bulldogs have only given up 52 yds all year. One major area, K Sean Brauchle must stay away from kicking the ball out of bounds on kick offs. Believe or not, but MSU only allows 22 yds per return on kick offs, but it's the depth of the kick that usually makes things appear worse than they are. PK Derek DePasquale is on fire in his last 3 games, hitting 7 straight FGs. We will need everything we can get, and I see De-Paq playing a major role on Saturday night. As for our kick off return team, Perkins and Bumphis have to run with a purpose and brains. Bumphis has appeared very hesitant this season in accerlating and avoiding contact. Perkins on the other hand, just needs a few blocks, and State will start at the 45-50 all night. Like I said, run with purpose.

(5) Must Be Able to Throw the Ball: It sounds so simple doesn't it? But, for MSU passing is not a strength for starting QB Chris Relf. I expect Arkansas to stack the box, since they know as well as we do, that we want to run the ball and control the clock. That means that we are going to have some opportunities to make plays in the passing game, and we must. Les Koenning needs to keep it simple, and RUSH the ball on 1st Downs. Short, high percentage passes are what we need to try and execute. Use the screen game to our advantage, slants, drags, and outs as well. Many people think that Tyler Russell makes us one-dimensional, but might I remind them that on ALL of Tyler Russell's scoring drives this season, State had a big run on the drive (20+ yds). I wonder if we will see more of Tyler on Saturday? By that I mean a series or two more. 

(6) Make the Play: The Bulldogs' play at homethis year hasn't been the prettiest, but it's been clutch when we needed it. Be it a timely forced fumble, interception, sack, catch, or 3rd Down run, the Dawgs have come through in Davis Wade Stadium (5-1). We can't have drops in the passing game or in the Defensive secondary; if there's a loose ball we have to claim it; make our kicks; make good choices in the option and passing game.

(7) Get Loud: And finally, as fans we have to BRING THE NOISE! I was impressed with the level of noise we created vs UK. We'll need that again. We are on ESPN, as in ESPN 1 these days, so let's help our team show out.

My Thoughts: Something tells me that our Seniors will not allow State to lose this one. JC Brignone and Derek Sherrod, who anchor the O-Line, will be looking to make Saturday's game (their last in Davis Wade), one for the ages. FB Patrick Hanharan, who is also responsible for much of the Dawgs' success on the ground, will lead the charge as well. On Defense, 2 of the best in recent years to put on an Maroon jersey will do so for the last time (depending on location of the bowl game), in LBs Chris White and KJ Wright. Their intensity and leadership on D, has propelled the Dawgs thus far, and I don't see a drop off coming on Saturday. DE Pernell McPhee has had much more of a quiet career at State than anyone imagined, but I think he will pressure Mallet non-stop. I mentioned 2 weeks ago, that even though State has won 7 games, that not adding to that win total would result in disappointment. I think the Bulldogs know that, and will come into the Arkansas game ready to play. They have the opportunity to end up as a mediocre team, with just 8 wins to their name, OR as one to be remembered throughout MSU history. State could truly turn 'the corner' with a WIN against the Hogs, find themselves in a much better bowl game, and lay the foundation for those to come. Do it for Bell and Berry!

My Prediction:  Hogs  28  Dogs  24. That's my score prediction, but keep in mind that I'm being superstitious and picking the Hogs to win, so that State can (not really, actually I am, you get the picture). My superstitions also keep me from making my individual performance predictions, but I hope you do.

Your Prediction? Keys to Victory?

 

______SEC Weekend______

TSUN @ LSU   31-10

UT@ Vandy  34-17

Troy  @  South Car  42-13

Appl. State  @  UF  31-14 

WHO ya got?

 

In case yall missed it this week, which I think a lot of you did...

-Here's some of the expansion ideas for Davis Wade. (Thanks, Buzzard) Link

-There have been some breaks in the Cam Newton story. Here's an in-depth look at Auburn, Dirty Money, Football, and Politics. Link

-Kenny Rodger's lawyer, confirms that Cecil Newton was involved in soliciting money. Link

-We also talked about HOW desperate Houston Nutt's speech was on Monday.

-And we also talked about how much playing time that Tyler Russell should get.

-The Men's B-Ball team is in action on Friday night vs Appl. State. Link

You can comment on any of those items as well.

Go Dawgs!!!

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Written by Brett Holloway | 17 November 2010

We are officially 2 days away from kick off between #22 MSU and #13 Arkansas. I'm sure that Dan Mullen is doing his best to prepare the Bulldogs for Arkansas' dynamic aerial attack, while Bobby Petrino is focused on stopping the Bulldogs' ground game. To clarify, the Hogs' pass offense ranks 1st in the SEC, while MSU's rush offense·ranks 3rd. With that said, let's take a look at how these 2 teams stack up against each other, and the rest of the nation as well.

There are indeed some interesting match ups that we'll have to keep an eye on come Saturday. Here are some things that come to mind immediately, when I look at the stats:

Arkansas

MSU

Total Off.

491 ypg (7th)

374 ypg (64th)

Pass Off.

343 ypg (3rd)

163 ypg (102nd)

Rush Off.

148 ypg (66th)

211 ypg (18th)

Scoring Off.

37 ppg (13th)

26 ppg (66th)

Total Def.

329 ppg (31st)

348 ypg (48th)

Pass Def.

177 ypg (14th)

227 ypg (79th)

Rush Def.

152 ypg (63rd)

121 ypg (20th)

Scoring Def.

21 ppg (38th)

18 ppg (16th)

T.O. P.

30 min (34th)

31 min (33rd)

-Ark Pass Off.·vs·MSU Pass Def.- The Hogs average 116 yds more than·the Dawgs give up, but State has yet to see a QB as potent as Mallet.MSU Rush Off.·vs·Rush Def.- The Dawgs average 59 yds more than the Hogs give up, but outside of Auburn, the Hogs have yet to see a better rushing offense than MSU's.

-MSU Rush Def. vs·Ark Rush Off.- The Dawgs give up 27 ydsless·that Arkansas averages,·but extra focus on Mallet and the passing game, could result in a nice day for Kniles Davis. For the record, State has yet to allow a 100 yd rusher on the season.

-As much as MSU will want to hold on to the football and control the tempo of the game, Arkansas will be looking to play the same type of game. The Hogs rank one spot below MSU in Time of Possession. That really surprised me.

-The Scoring Defense between the 2 teams, leans in MSU's favor by 3 points (18 ppg - 21 ppg). I·really think that the team that has the better day rushing the football will win this game.

What intrigues you about the stats and Saturday's match up?

_____Break in the Cam Newton Story_____

A day after John Bondtalked with the FBI, andKenny Rogers talked with NCAA investigators, Bill Bell dropped a bomb on the on-going Newton saga. Bell, played football with both Bond and Rogers at State, and his name had come up during some recent allegations. It turns out that what Bell has to offer to the NCAA and other investigating parties, might be the most incriminating evidence against the Newtons thus far. Here's a report from ESPN.com, by Mark Schlabach, Chris Low and Pat Forde:

[Bill Bell, a Mississippi State booster and former player at the school, told the NCAA he received a text message from a man claiming to represent Cam Newton's father that outlined a payment plan designed to bring the quarterback to the Bulldogs.Bell said former teammate Kenny Rogers told him Cecil Newton wanted money for his son to play at Mississippi State. Bell told ESPN.com he also shared a series of voice mail messages from Rogers with the NCAA last week. Bell said Cecil Newton never specifically asked him for money, but that Newton was present during three-way calls in which Rogers discussed a pay-for-play scheme. Bell said he told the NCAA that Rogers sent him a text message outlining a payment schedule. Bell said the text included a request for $80,000 the day after Cam Newton signed with Mississippi State, $50,000 30 days after that and another $50,000 30 days later. "When he asked for it, it was like 'Bam!'" Bell said. "He told me this kid's dad is going to want money and the next day he sent me a text message. He didn't say anything other than 'This is what I want and I want it in three installments.'" Bell said he kept Rogers' text message on his old cell phone, which was damaged by water, but he is currently trying to retrieve the text message through his cell service provider. Bell also said he has recordings of several voice mail messages from Rogers, which he played for NCAA investigators. "[Cecil Newton] didn't come out and say, 'I want $180,000,'" Bell said. "He inferred it and talked about it, but not directly. Kenny would talk about it in front of him, and [Cecil Newton] never corrected him or said, 'No, that's not what we're doing.'" Bell said the initial contact to him was made by Rogers, who played football with Bell in college. But Bell, a Florida businessman, said he also had several conversations with Cecil Newton during his son's recruitment. He said it was going to "take more than just a relationship with [Mississippi State coach] Dan Mullen and that Cam's relationship with Mullen wasn't what Mullen thought it was," Bell said. "That's when he said, 'Dan Mullen is going to have to put a smile on my face if he thinks he's going to get my son.'" Bell said the reason he's providing details of the alleged scheme is because he wants to make sure everybody knows Mississippi State didn't break NCAA rules during its recruitment of Cam Newton. Bell went on to say, "It was probably three phone calls or so before Kenny said, 'They're going to want money,'" Bell recalled. "It just seemed like he didn't know what he was doing, like it was the first time he'd ever done something like that. I really believe it was Mr. Newton asking Kenny to do it. I don't think it was Kenny's idea."]White

Now, there's a large camp of people who want to protect Cam Newton in all of this, who believe that he was unaware of his father's actions. I couldn't disagree more, due to the fact that an MSU recruiter or insider said that Cam seemed upset in his father's decision for him to attend Auburn over MSU, because the "money was too much."· In my opinion, that MSU recruiter or insider, was probably Jody Wright (former MSU Asst. AD), who is now a G.A. at Bama. I don't believe that conversation was manufactured to fuel the story forward, but that it actually happened. If that quote can be linked to show that Cam Newton was aware of his father's monetary solicitations, and that his services were purchased, then Cam and Cecil both are in 'hot water.' That also confirms that Auburn paid for Newton's talents, and we know where it all goes from there. FBI please?·

 

Hopefully you guys woke up from yalls' afternoon nap yesterday, and will punch the keys today (JJ).

Anyway, your thoughts on the stat match up between the Hogs and Dawgs?

Cam Newton saga's newest twist?

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Written by Brett Holloway | 16 November 2010

rmallet1As Saturday's match up between #13 Arkansas and #22 MSU approaches, I figured we'd take a midweek look at what's being talked about in the 2 opposing camps. MSU's Dan Mullen spoke about a variety of topics, and we also have some quotes from Arkansas' Off. Coordinator Garrick McGee, and Bulldogs' Def. Coordinator Manny Diaz. We will also look at the Hogs' top players thus far. Saw where the ticket count is down under 600, so it's gonna be a packed house for Senior Night at Davis Wade Stadium.

_____Dan Mullen Speaks_____

On Practice: “I think our last two games are 6:00 games so when you get to this time of year it’s actually good to get out here and make sure we’re practicing around our gametime, so our guys get used to playing...For us just a regular Tuesday, get back in our game routine. It was first down/play action mix, full pads, good hitting. We did some tackling but we didn’t change a routine that’s been very successful for us. So it was get out here, get after them, get back into that mindset of what we need to do to win. We got in a great routine in that winning streak, had a bunch of other things happen to get us out of that routine,” Mullen said. “Now we’re trying to get back on focus.”

On Relf: "Chris saw the chances. We went back and looked, he was 8-of-16 with four drops, two open receivers that he missed. So there were a lot of opportunities there, and for the receivers, everybody. We had a chance to watch it and see; in our winning games we were making those plays. If you don’t make them you’re not going to, against great teams.”

On Zach Smith (Injured): "He’s adamant that he is playing, to me...You can joke with him but he doesn’t even think it’s funny to joke with him. It was like ‘how come I’m not listed #1 on the punt team today?’” I said it’s because you’re not practicing. He said but I’m playing, so list me as #1.”- Gotta respect Zach Smith's heart.

_____Hogs' Off. Coordinator Garrick McGee_____

"Our kids are playing at a really high level right now," Coach McGee said. "When we are set behind the chains, they've found ways to make plays and convert third downs. I know Ryan (Mallett) hit Cobi (Hamilton) on an in-cut on third-and-10 last week and it seemed really simple when he did it. We've just got to continue to play well on first down. Third downs become simple." On State's Defense: "Their defense is really complex. They would call it a multiple defense, I bet. They play three down. They play four down. They have four defensive linemen in the game in a three-down structure, with one of their defensive linemen standing up and floating around. They have a really interesting scheme that's going to be a challenge for us."

  • During Arkansas' 4 game win streak, they are averaging 46.5 ppg, and have converted 54% of the time on 3rd Downs during that stretch. SCARY.

_____Mann Diaz on Stopping the Hog Offense_____

"One of the things in the Alabama game is it ruined another red zone performance. We're usually pretty hard to score on in the red zone, and when Alabama got in our red zone, they had a hard time scoring touchdowns on us. With a guy like Mallett, who is going to complete some passes, and they're going to get some yards, if we will just understand, if we will tackle the catch, at a minimum if we'll tackle the catch, sooner or later they're going to wind up in our red zone, and the field gets constricted, and the offense is limited in terms of what they can do where you think you've got a chance."-What Manny Diaz described, would be a nice alternative compared to Carl Torbush's schemes last season. The Dawgs allowed Mallet to connect on long TD passes of 39, 58, and 64 yards. As much of a cushion as State has been playing in the past couple of weeks, Diaz should be able to take away the homerun ball, and present the Dawg D with opportunities to make plays against the underneath to mid-range passing game. This year's Hog team will be even tougher than last year's, thanks to the emergence of RB Kniles Davis. The Sophomore is approaching the 1,000 yard mark on the season.

Hog Playmakers in 2010

  • QB Ryan Mallet: 2,967 yds, 67%, 24 TDs, 8 INTs
  • RB Kniles Davis: 844 yds, 7.2ypc, 10 TDs
  • RB Broderick Green: 333 yds, 3.5 yds per carry, 3 TDs
  • WR Greg Childs: (out for yr) 659 yds, 14.3 yds per reception, 6 TDs
  • WR Joe Adams: 588 yds, 17.3 ypr, 4 TDs
  • WR Jarius Wright: 545 yds, 17 ypr, 3 TDs
  • TE DJ Williams: 491 yds, 11 ypr, 3 TDs
  • WR Cobi Hamilton: 391 yds, 15.6 ypr, 4 TDs
  • RB Ryan Wingo: 274 yds, 10 ypr, 4 TDs
  • Arkansas is 2nd in the SEC in Total Off. and Mallet is 15th nationally. Arkansas is 5th in Total Def. (More on stats tomorrow).

____Cam Newton Saga_____

Well guys, after an Auburn win, and 3 hours of Cam Newton worship from CBS's Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson, all seemed somewhat 'sunny' again in Auburn, Alabama. The Friday before the UGA game, there were some reports that Cam Newton's father, Cecil Newton, allegedly admitted to shopping his son to MSU. Reports say that Cam and Newton's wife, were unaware of the bribe. Those reports seemed to have hushed, but the saga is heating up now more than ever. On Tuesday, the FBI interviewed former MSU QB John Bond, who was the first to provide information about the Newton case. Bond's inside information, which sent shock waves through the College Football world, included Ken Rogers. Rogers, like Bond, is a former MSU player, and in all this has been identified as Newton's representative or 'handler' during Newton's recruitment and signing with Auburn. According to ESPN-Dallas radio, Rogers was interviewed by NCAA investigators on Tuesday, after he called out Cecil Newton last week, confirming that the father did in fact solicit monetary payments from MSU, in order to earn his son's commitment. The NCAA investigative crew, also met with former MSU Football Operations Director Jody Wright. Wright is now a G.A. at Alabama. Hopefully we will find out something soon. ESPN's Mark Schlabach, said that the FBI's involvement will be to investigate the money trail, and to see if one exists.

Arkansas writer Chris Bahn, writes that Arkansas' attendance numbers have dropped as their ranking has increased. Btw, the Hogs are done in Fayetteville for the season, as Little Rock awaits LSU next week. Redneck Mardi Gras!!! Ugh... Link

The SEC's dirtiest player, Auburn's Nick Fairley, will not be suspended or punished for his continual and violent LATE hits on opposing QBs. So, just how WORTHY was MSU's Chris Hugh's hit on the UAB player? Remember, the one that we never even saw a replay of, or know happened? Btw, is Fairley's actions and the Cam Newton issue, just a few of the eye-opening aspects of Auburn's lack of institutional control? Link

Anybody see Bama backup QB AJ McCarron get spanked by Saban? Link

Story on the Hogs' DJ Williams. The kid has overcome a lot. Link

That's all for today guys!

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Written by Brett Holloway | 15 November 2010

Nutt1On Tuesdays, I always provide notes from our very own Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs' weekly adversary, but the truth is, Mullen and Petrino are not saying a whole lot. Here is a little bit of what I've gathered from the two coaches, thus far...

Dan Mullen on QB Ryan Mallet: "He can slide around in the pocket and extend plays. Very athletic that way. People get locked into thinking an athletic quarterback is one that can just run the ball and is very fast. An athletic quarterback can also be a guy that buys himself some extra time in the pocket. And he has the arm strength where he can throw a 50-yard pass and it takes about half a second for it to get there."

Mullen on the Hog D: “They’re a very, very aggressive defense. They’re going to blitz you from a lot of different directions...They get you a little bit out of your game plan and they get into their comfort zone, which is really blitzing you from every direction on defense and coming after you. That’s one of the reasons we have to control the tempo of the game.”

·Bobby Petrino on MSU: "I know our players are excited about the week. We will be focused, and we have to do a good job in our preparation, in our practice, and get ready to go on the road and play another very good football team."

Yaaaaawwwwwn.

Yesterday I raised the question of whether or not Tyler Russell's passing game needed to be more a part of the Bulldog Offense, but it appears that Dan Mullen doesn't think so. "The run game, that’s our base. The experience of our team is on the offensive line. To do that we need them to play well and they’ve played well running the football. That’s been the strength of our team this year and that needs to continue." I completely agree coach, but a change of pace would be nice. I'm a major proponent of running the football and controlling the clock, but whenever we become predictable, and place ourselves in passing situations-be it predetermined or by circumstance, it would be nice to have the better arm in the game (at times). Mullen went on to say "When you look at our stats and the differences in our wins and losses – our turnovers – our ability to run the ball and control the tempo of the game, that’s been the difference. We have to be able to playour game at our tempo for us to be successful.” Les Koenning had this to say about Relf's abilities, "We feel comfortable throwing the football – don’t misunderstand me now – but to win football games, our plan has been laid out by coach Mullen. Obviously as the game goes along – things change but controlling the football on the ground is our identity."

_______After Further Review_______

And I’ll say this, there are some guys who missed tackles that I would rate as the best tacklers on our team. There were some things that were a little out of character for us.”

I watched the Bama replay, and here's what I saw, followed by some comments from State players:

  • Johnthan Banks was much better at Safety than he is at Corner. Opposing Defenses are beginning to target him.
  • Tyler Russell did a great job of stepping up in the pocket, avoiding pressure, and throwing the football with the touch that each situation required. And, it was all against Bama's first team D. If Bumphis doesn't fall down, then he doesn't even throw an INT, and we probably make the loss look even more respectful.
  • Vick Ballard was a·BEAST in Tuscaloosa. The kid has the same motor as Anthony Dixon, and runs hard 'til the whistle. We need to get him the ball through the air more as well.
  • LaDarius Perkins is potentially our most dangerous player on Offense. Ballard holds the edge at the moment, due to the fact that he is utilized more to his strengths then Perkins is. When he gets the ball on the edge, and he can cover 30 yds in a heart beat.
  • Emmanuel Gatling continues to disappoint me. He had a chance to stop all 3 of Bama's long TDs, before they even got started. Like I've said before, always around the ball, but just does not make the play.
  • Nickoe Whitley's statistics do not show how hard he plays. The kid flies to the ball, and is not afraid to make a hit.
  • Charles Mitchell had his first down-game of the 2010 season. He is one of my favorite players, but he looked like the Carl Torbush version of #4, not the Diaz version.
  • Corey Broomfield is very spotty at times. I liked him better before we let KJ Wright take over his role as a Rover type Back. Broomfield has the tendancy to lock up with a blocker, lose focus, and take himself out of plays. Violent hands, and attacking the ball will go a long way in improving his game. Sometimes when I watch him, I think of Randy Moss rumors, about taking plays off here and there.
  • JC Brignone on Physicality: The one thing we didn’t do (against Alabama) was be as physical as we normally are. I don’t like making excuses so I think it was just – we weren’t there, we weren’t us. I want to leave with this being the best offensive line in (MSU) history because I know we can be
  • Mann Diaz on Game Film: "Good for 29 plays; three in horror; and 29 more good. And I’ll say this, there are some guys who missed tackles that I would rate as the best tacklers on our team. There were some things that were a little out of character for us.”
  • On a sidenote, Mullen mentioned that Relf missed 2 easy TD throws, with passes that were batted down at the line.

Even though Mullen and Petrino aren't talking, but Houston Nutt is. Nutt had his weekly press conference on Monday, just as other SEC coaches do, but none of the others sound quite as pitiful and desperate as him. Nutt made every excuse in the world concerning the Rebs' disappointing season. And, did his best to·bring attention to the positive things he's accomplished since he's been in Oxford. Here are some clips, that even·an Ole Miss radio station was·grilling Nutt over:

  • "Lets go back and talk about the start of the year, this season has not gone like we had planned for it to.· It all started with that first game. With the amount of players we lost this year, we all knew that this would be a difficult year. But, what we didn’t plan on was three knee surgeries, four concussions and losing a leader like Kentrell Lockett. I just want to remind our fans that it had been·50 years since Ole Miss won back-to-back January 1 bowl games.· I’m excited that we have 12 freshmen playing. I am excited about the future.· I know in my heart, now more than ever, that we can get to Atlanta. I know we can, because I know that we can recruit here; we have proven that our last two seasons. What we didn’t plan on was our first game and a few others putting us in a tailspin. It’s my fault.· We were not as ready as we should have been, but I see a lot of hope. I am excited about these next two games. I remember the day I got here; I didn’t see any life or hope. I do not want that to come back on our guys now. We have two games left, and a lot of these guys have been doing great things for the past couple of years."
  • "It is easy to dwell on the negative. It is easy to sit up on the 50-yard line and point out the bad and embarrassing. I was the first one to say Saturday was embarrassing. If you think that you are hurting, you should be in my shoes. I am sick to my stomach when I think about the Tennessee game, because we planned on winning that game."
  • "I planned on having seven wins at this point in the season, six at the worst. The bottom line is that we are not there, but I am not going to allow my players to be gloom and doom. They need to remember that they have been a part of something great. It was not too long ago when everyone was patting them on the back for winning back-to-back Cotton Bowls. I just want to tell our fans that there are good things getting ready to happen."
  • “I am not blaming anything on the previous staff; I appreciate all the players that I inherited. The players that Ed Orgeron recruited were very good players. They did a good job at getting Peria Jerry, Jerrell Powe. Michael Wallace, Shay Hodge and guys like them in here. But, the bottom line is that they didn’t know how to win and they were used to losing. I don’t ever want to go back to that point. Don’t ever get used to losing, don’t ever get to the point where it is a little bit easier to let go of the rope. You play as good as your senior class. When they play their best is when you win the most games. When you go back to the first year I was here, our senior class was phenomenal. Michael Oher was playing at his best. Peria Jerry was an awesome and violent player. Michael Wallace was playing at the top of his game. Your seniors are your leaders, the owners of the team and the motor that drives it. We have very few numbers of those guys now. We are missing our best one, Kentrell Lockett."

Pretty sad, desperate, and embarrassing Houston. I guess you are·practicing the same speech that you will be giving a year from now, hoping to save your job. You called out what fans that are left, who were possibly considering attending the Egg Bowl. And for the record, you have had 3 years to recruit. We should be able to see some of what you can do as a recruiter, and as a coach who has had time to develop those players. All the repetitive excuses, is pretty much the equivalent of ice skating up hill. The fact is, you are out of Ed Orgeron's talent, you can't develop a QB to save your life, and your days are numbered in Mississippi.

How much do you think Tyler Russell should play for MSU? I'm thinkin 30% of the time...

How DESPERATE is Nutt?

-Egg Bowl's kick off·has been set. 6pm, and we get Herm Edwards again! He's not that great, but a good luck charm for us. Nothing like being called Memphis·State··Link

-Chris Low's SEC Power Rankings. State is 6th. Link

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Written by Brett Holloway | 14 November 2010

chuckyBellAfter experiencing their longest winning streak since the 1999 season, MSU fell hard at Alabama on Saturday night. State is now 7-3 (3-3), while the Tide improved to 8-2 (5-2). Bama seemed to have regained some of their swagger, but the Bulldogs lost a little bit that they had acquired over the past 6 weeks. Dan Mullen's bunch, failed to earn MSU's 3rd win in 55 years in Tuscaloosa, and Bama just continued their usual dominance over the Bulldogs. I know, sickening. If I hadn't watched the game, and you would have told me that State would convert 50% of their 3rdDowns, and win the T.O.P. battle by 3 minutes, I would have surely thought the Dawgs would have won. But, 3 consecutive scoring plays on Offense for the Tide of 45, 78, and 56 yards, pushed State out of reach. Here's my game notes from the match up:

(1) Defense Must Improve: All year, the Defense has been a question mark for MSU. Not necessarily the personnel, but rather whether we are putting our guys in position to make plays, and to win ball games. Many maypoint to tackling, which I admit is somewhat of a weakness for a few of our players on D. But, my problem lies in Diaz's coverage schemes. Either #1, he is giving our guys way too much freedom when it comes to choosing the cushion they give their respective WRs, or #2 the blame is all on Diaz, because he is purposefully putting our guys in those costly coverage sets. Like I've mentioned earlier this season, it's sad when all of us in the stands can see that we are going to give up a 1st Down, before the ball is even snapped. If you are an X's and O's guy like me, you know exactly who the ball is going to as well, which makes it even more sickening to watch. Not only does lining up 7-12 yards off a WR hurt you on underneath routes, but in another critical area-that Bama attacked last night. What's that you might ask? Recovery. Let's take a 3rd Down and 9 situation for this illustration. Whether you are in man or zone coverage, before the ball is even snapped, a Bulldog player is 7-12 yards off the line of scrimmage. On the snap, the DB naturally backs up to provide space and cushion to conform to the route, and almost automatically the WR has the chains in their favor, because of the pre-snap distance. You keep the Offense from scoring, but you give up 12 yds, when they only needed 9. Now, playing that deep hurts you in multiple ways. #1, you literally change the mindset of the Offenses's 'underneath' passing game's distance. The Offense goes from using 5-7 yd passes, to 10-12 yard passes, because the coverage is set so deep. Now, the area that Bama exploited so well vs State, was our inability to recover. So, #2 playing as deep as the Dawgs have in coverage, effects their ability to react to the ball, and minimize the damage. On the catch by Marquis Maze last night, the play should have went for 12 yards and a 1st Down, instead the kid takes it 45 yds for aTD. When you play that deep off the ball, it means you have to come up and make a play after the ball has been caught. With the amount of cushion we are providing, the receivers have already caught the ball, and then have the opportunity to adjust to either a flat footed DB, or one who is headed in his direction at full speed, which benefits the WR. We should be a 70/30 Man coverageD, but Diaz's philosophy will not ever allow that. So, since we are confined to his style, we have to make adjustments. Shorten the umbrella, face-up WRs, and save the 7-12 yard cushion for Prevent situations, and most importantly, our Secondary needs to learn where the chains are, and expect throws within that vicinity. Also, If I were Diaz, Monday and Tuesday would consist of nothing but coned-pursuit drills and tackling basics. We were TERRIBLE in both aspects. I was really happy with how we handled the Bama run game, until it was over in the 3rd, and the Tide was eating clock. Alabama did nothing special, but we sure made them look that way.

(2) Time for the Relf/Russell Platoon: One thing is clear, to beat 'true' SEC elite teams like Bama, year in and year out, you have to be non-predictable on Offense. You can only run the read, the counter, the QB draw, and the option so much. We are so vanilla, that when we send a man in motion before the snap, the opposing D knows who's getting the ball, and the magic is gone. What was supposed to be a wrinkle, becomes the evident. One thing is becoming more and more clear, and that is that our Offense needs something else. There are times when it makes sense to run the ball down a team's throat all night, but there are obvious cases in which you have to know that you can't. Mullen has mentioned the fact that he would like to see our pass production increase, but it's clear that Chris Relf doesn't have the potential to make that happen. In fact, if we know that we are going to throw the ball, why not put the ball in the hands of the better passer (Russell)? With that said, I know I have to defend Tyler's play. Since the Alcorn game, Tyler has been held out of 2 whole games, and all but 3 plays in another. Very little playing time = very little experience = occasional mistakes. It's simple math. Yall know that I'm a HUGE Tyler fan, but I have also been the unbiased critic that I have needed to be, when it comes to his shortcomings. But, as I said after the Alcorn and UK games, I feel that he tries to over-compensate when he finally gets the opportunity to see the field, because the time he is in is so scarce. As a Freshman QB, he needs the experience just to get the "Cloud 9" game he had vs Memphis-out of his head. There are many areas of his game that he needs to improve on, but what Freshman in college football doesn't? So, why should he play? (1) Russell is a 58% passer, he averages 9+ yds per attempt, and has a QB Passer Rating of 141.37. (2) The kid has lead long scoring drives in 2 of the nation's toughest places to play (@ Bama and @ LSU, vs their 1st string). (3) He's thrown 4 TDs and 5 INTs, and about 2 or 3 of those were clearly not his fault, while the others were terrible. (4) Tyler also has a much better 'internal' QB Clock, that all signal callers need, in order to sense pressure and get rid of the ball. That, is something that Relf sorely lacks. (5) Russell has thrown for 555 yds, in very limited action. The fact is, we can't continue to try and play Clock Wars with the rest of our schedule. Teams know exactly what we are going to do, and it's only going to get easier for them to stop us. I know a lot of coaches and fans are not proponents of platooning within a series, but how is that any different from running the QB to the sideline for a breather, when we go the Rabid Dawg? There is no difference, so why not bring in Relf or Russell-off the switch, and keep defense's honest, by capitalizing on a different strength? Or better yet, surprise them and let Relf throw and Tyler run occasionally. That's what it's going to take to light a fire for our Offense. Both QBs have shown moments of extreme effectiveness in what they do...why not combine the two strengths? It's time! Btw, the Relf INT was the worst pass of the year, and KILLED our confidence and a perfect scoring opportunity early on. Triple coverage Chris? The root of the problem is Koenning, who called for the pass on 1st Down anyway. I've never seen a guy abandon what 'was' working so well in the first place. Take over the play calling Dan, or hire someone who you can trust...please. And finally, I think we lose 30-24, 'IF' we would have brought in Russell 2 series earlier. That would have made us look much better.

(3) We are not THERE yet: The fact is, MSU has turned the corner, but not a Bama, or an LSU type corner. We are at the point where we can beat a great program on a down year, UGA and UF for example, where we can win almost all our home games, but not to the point where we match the Top teams in the conference for 4 quarters. We don't have the mindset, the personnel, or the depth to do so. And as long as Les Koenning is calling plays, we may not have the coaching (Btw, we passed on 10 first downs last night...10). But, I think we are 2 years away from breaking into the top tier of the SEC. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with 7-3, and where this year has taken us, but I'm just being realistic. We are losing some players on OL and at LB, that have been critical to our success. Saturday night was a perfect example of a top tier teamthat makes plays, and a team who is not there yet, and doesn't. We commit stupid penalties, our coaches display poor play-calling, we drop way to many passes, and we have a lot to clean up before Arkansas.

Offensive & Defensive Standouts: RB Vick Ballard- 19 rushes for 80 yds; RB LaDarius Perkins- 8 rushes for 44 yds;QB Tyler Russell-4/7 for 80 yds, TD,INT; WR Chad Bumphis- 3 catches 44 yds,TD;WR Brandon Heavens- 3 catches 21 yds;WR Arceto Clark- 2 catches 44 yds. LB Chris White- 3tkl, 1INT; LB KJ Wright, S Nickoe Whitley, S Charles Mitchell- all with 5 tkls   

      Positives     

  • We are 7-3 (3-3 in SEC)
  • We are Bowl bound...somewhere?
  • We are better than we played on Saturday
  • We are still ranked, #22 in AP, #21 in the BCS

     SEC Week 11    

UT Crushes Ole Miss, 52-14. At the beginning of the season, I mentioned that Nutt should play Nathan Stanley until the kid was worthy of being benched. I expected a down year for Ole Miss, and that move would have secured the fact that Nutt gave Stanley his shot, and then brought in Masoli for change. Nutt instead, put all his eggs in one basket, and has killed the confidence of Stanley, and just solidified the school of thought-that Nutt cannot develop a QB, even the likes of Jeremiah Masoli. I don't see Nutt making it past next season in Oxford.

UF Let MeDown, 36-14. I was shocked that the Gators allowed the Gamecocks to come into the Swamp, with the East on the line, and do what they did. USC held the ball for 40+ minutes, after UF returned the opening kick off for a TD. 200 yds rushing for Lattimore. Spurrier lucks out on a week year in the East.

Auburn Runs Away from UGA, 49-31. It was close until the 4th. Cam Newton and Auby outscored UGA 28-10 in the 2nd half. Cam Newton is the best player in college football, just not the best 'eligible' player. I get tired of all the Newton worship. He is not a victim. Btw, I hope that in all this, Auburn realizes that we didn't bring them into this, but rather Newton's association with Auburn did. We are getting way to much blame, for making the right decisions and moves. There are rumors out there, but I'm glad that Stricklin has confirmed what we have released, and what we haven't. I expect a new break in the story tomorrow. And DT Nick Fairley for Auburn, should have been immediately ejected for his hit on UGA QB, Aaron Murray. If in the NFL, he'd be forking over $30,000. Anyway, Auburn clinches the West.

Arkansas Rolls UTEP, 58-21. Mallet threw for 215 yds, 5 TDs; Kniles Davis ran for 182 yds on just 11 carries; 31 First Downs, and 577 yards.

 

Anyway, your thoughts on the SEC Weekend?

Should Tyler Russell get more playing time?

What were your thoughts about the game in general?

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Written by Brett Holloway | 12 November 2010

MSU-UH_040You could say that MSU and Alabama are thinking the same thing right now. That very thought, is that neither expected to be 7-2 at this point in the season. For MSU, 2010 was viewed by many as a stepping stone year. Most in the media, forecasted that Mullen and the Bulldogs would still be another season away from tasting success. Alabama was picked to pretty much repeat, or finish amongst the nation's top 5. Here we are, deep in College Football's 11th week of the season, and it appears that Bama will have to wait, but MSU appears ahead of schedule. With that said though, #17 MSU heads into possibly it's toughest test of the season. Though #11 Bama is banged up, and a year removed from their National Title, a lot of the same pieces remain. Both the Bulldogs and the Tide are coming off a difficult stretch, but losing a teammate trumps all circumstances in sports. Bama had their post season title hopes crushed in Baton Rouge, while Mississippi State's Nick Bell lost his short battle with cancer. What was supposed to be a week of 'cleaning' up various aspects of their game, turned out to be a week of grieving for the Dawgs. The fact is, Saturday's match up is going to come down to one thing, and that's 'mindset'.

With that said, I figured·that we'd take a look at what the experts at College Gameday Stats have to say. Just a reminder that you can get their weekly insight and newsletter, by emailing them at info@collegegamedaystats.com:

  • MSU Scoring vs Bama Opponent's Scoring- Advantage Bama
  • MSU Pass Off. vs Bama Pass Def.- Advantage Bama
  • MSU Rush Off. vs Bama Rush Def.- Advantage MSU
  • Bama Scoring vs MSU Opponent's Scoring- Advanatage MSU
  • Bama Pass Off. vs MSU Pass Def.- Advantage Bama
  • Bama Rush Off. vs MSU Rush Def.- No Advantage
  • Odds- Bama 13.5 pt Favorites
  • College Gameday Stats' Pick to Win- MSU
  • Edge: MSU's Defense

My Thoughts: Alabama is still Alabama. Tuscaloosa is still Tuscaloosa. If MSU is going to have any shot to win·at Bryant-Denny, not only will they have to channel their emotions related to losing Nick Bell, but they'll have to take the crowd out of the game as much as possible. Hopefully, Mullen has prepared the Bulldogs the same way he did for the Florida game, and State will come out and make a statement early. Rumor has it that Tide RB Trent Richardson may not see action on Saturday, but that still leaves a 'banged-up' Heisman in Ingram, in the Bama back field. With Richardson out, or seeing limited playing time, look for Freshman Eddie Lacy to fill in. Lacy is dangerous for a youngster, posting a 6+ yd average, and 3 TDs on the year. As far as Bama's passing game, WR Julio Jones brings the size and experience needed to dominate in the SEC, while Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks are just a step away from hurting you deep. QB Greg McElroy hadn't lost since the 8th grade before this season started, but has lost twice this season already. McElroy is a consistent leader though, and manages games very well. The Rhodes Scholar also enjoys hitting his TE Preston Dial, and his RBs in dump-off or emergency outlet situations. Richardson's absence could be felt just as much in this area, as it is in Bama's run game. As far as Bama's D is concerned, they are strong amongst the front 7, and rank17th in the country as a whole (307 ypg). If the group has one weakness, it has to be their Secondary, who allows just over 180 passing ypg. The Bulldogs boast the nation's 14th ranked Rushing attack, with 3 capable ball handlers. QB Chris Relf, RBs Vick Ballard, and LaDarius Perkins, have a knack for finding running lanes, and the second level with ease. Coming off of a bye week, should mean that the Dawgs are healthy on the OL, and the RB's legs should be rested and fresh. One negative for the Dawgs, is their passing game, which ranks 101st in the nation (164 ypg). I'm sure Mullen will be looking for ways to loosen up Bama's front 7 through the air, and will have to do so to win. As effective as MSU's Running game has been this season, the Dawg OL will see the most aggressive defense that they have seen, since LSU's. If a team plans on being one dimensional vs Saban's D, that pretty much means you should not get off the bus. Mullen noted that Chris Relf's passing game was sharpened some during the bye week, and even Relf mentioned his need for a bigger role in this week's game. On defense, Mullen, as well as fans, have used the term bend but don't break, to refer to the D's consistent performances. Diaz's group, does just that. Limiting big plays, focusing on Bama's strengths, and holding them to FGs, is what I expect the Dawg D to do. I also wonder if Mullen will use QB Tyler Russell in some passing situations? Even though, I have complete faith in Relf to lead.

KEYS to VICTORY? (1) Win the Trenches- I think this is probably the oldest football cliche', but it's simply the key to winning any and every football game. On D, DLs Fletcher Cox, Josh Boyd, Sean Fergeson, James Carmon, Shane McCardell, and Pernell McPhee have to disrupt Bama's back field with penetration. And, as I always note, they must also open up the blitzing lanes for incoming Bulldogs to make plays. Not only could they slow down Ingram and Co., but McElroy has struggled the past couple of weeks when facing pressure. The DL will have a lot do with whether or not those two focuses become a reality. Penetrate, disrupt, and free-up. (2) Mix it Up- Non-predictable play-calling. I seriously think that this is the best coaching staff that the Bulldogs will face off against in 2010. So, with that said, MSU will have to attack Bama in various ways, not just with the Run game. Battling not just on the field, but over the headsets as well, means that Mullen and his staff, will have to have timely play-calling that attacks Bama in vulnerable moments. I look for some forms of trickery for State, but nothing excessive. Rather, different variations and extensions of Bulldog Pass and Run game. RB screens (please), option reverses, etc. On D, Diaz will have to dial up multiple looks to confuse a smart QB. (3) Win the Turnover Battle- State's offense has not turned the ball over since the Alcorn State game (5 weeks ago), and Relf hasn't thrown an INT since the LSU game (Week 3). Relf must play smart, throw the ball away at times, and keep the ball away from Dre Kirkpatrick and Robert Lester (8 INTs total). If I'm not mistaken, Ingram and Richardson have 3 fumbles total over their careers. So, it's pretty clear that State is going to have to pressure McElroy in order to force Bama to turn the ball over. This game will be a Time of Possession battle, and protecting the ball keeps the clock on your side. The last few games, State's opponents have taken the Dawgs somewhat out of their element in this facet, turning their own strength against them. If Bama holds the ball, and forces MSU into desperate possessions, then the Dawgs will be in trouble. State's best chance, is to force Bama into the kind of game they forced UF into, earlier in the year. (4) Solid Special Teams-If Richardson plays, State must crack down on his big play abilities in the return game, and keep Bama from establishing themselves with good field position.·For MSU, Chad Bumphis, Mo Langston, and LaDarius Perkins must create· big plays in the return game. And, State's kickers must shine when called on. On a sidenote, MSU's D must keep Bama out of chip-shot range on FG tries, since the Tide has 2 capable kickers. (5) Frustrate the Bama Run Game- MSU and Bama, do one thing really well, and that's wear down opposing D's with their run game. The same way that MSU runs the read option until they bust off a long one, is the same thing Bama does with Ingram and Richardson out of their pro-set. Diaz has done an excellent job of taking away a team's strength, and with Bama the Run will be the key. Take away the rhythm they seek on the ground, try to force them to be one dimensional, and pressure McElroy when he drops back.

My Prediction: MSU 23  Bama 20. I think it's clear that MSU has turned the corner, and I seriously think they want more. Being bowl eligible, and surpassing last year's win total, is not where this team·wants to stop. State will play with more heart and emotion this week, playing in Nick Bell's memory. Not only that, but Mullen has this team 'expecting to win' these games now. The Bulldogs seem to be catching Bama at the perfect time, and in an unfamiliar situation for the Tide. Who are not used to bouncing back from losses. I can see State running the ball with success, and passing for the needed yards and balance. I am predicting that State picks of McElroy twice (KJ Wright & Corey Broomfield), and Derek DePasquale boots the game winning FG, early in the 4th quarter. Diaz's D comes through with a stop to close the game.

_______SEC Weekend_______nickbellcartoon

TSUN @ UT  28-24

Vandy @ UK  41-20

UGA @ Auburn  23-21

South Car @ UF  31-17

*Latest on the Cam Newton SAGA! Link

*MSU's Charles Mitchell will honor Nick Bell, by wearing Bell's #36 jersey on Saturday.

Your Picks? Your Keys to Victory?

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Written by Brett Holloway | 10 November 2010

relfWell boys, believe it or not, #17 MSU and #11 Alabama are set to face off on Saturday evening. Cam Newton has somewhat dominated the headlines, but MSU players, coaches, and fans cannot allow the scandal to still the spotlight on what is a very important match up for the Dawgs. So, with that said, let's get back on track here on the blog, with our weekly Stat Match-Up Analysis. Here's a look at where State and Bama stack up against each other, was well as with the rest of the Nation's teams.

MSU Bama
Total Off. 383 ypg (60th) 427 ypg (27th)
Rush Off. 218 ypg (14th) 177 ypg (34th)
Pass Off. 164 ypg (101st) 250 ypg (36th)
Scoring Off. 28 ppg (57th) 32 ppg (31st)
Total Def. 336 ypg (34th) 307 ypg (17th)
Rush Def. 115 ypg (20th) 125 ypg (33rd)
Pass Def. 221 ypg (71st) 181 ypg (18th)
Scoring Def. 17 ppg (9th) 13 ppg (5th)

Bama boast one of College Football's best 1-2 punches in RBs Trent Richardson and Heisman winner Mark Ingram. As I mentioned earlier this week, the tandem has struggled since the South Carolina game, to put up the numbers that they are accustomed to. The production in that stretch includes performances of: 36 yds @ USC, 133 yds vs Ole Miss, 210 @ UT, and 102 yds @ LSU. For the last 2 seasons, the Tide has relied on QB Greg McElroy to manage the game, minimize mistakes, and get the ball to Ingram and Richardson. It seems now that Bama's opponents are forcing McElroy to play more of a role in Bama's offense, by zeroing in on the 2 backs. There are some questions about Ingram and Richardson's health. Ingram suffered a knee injury during the summer, but returned after surgery for the Duke game (3rd game). There's no doubt that Ingram has since suffered some wear and tear since then, andRichardson suffered a knee injury at LSU this past weekend. Richardson is currently listed as day-to-day as he recovers, but Saban noted in Wednesday's presser that Ingram is ready if Richardson can't go on Saturday.

Having a major part of their offense banged-up, isn't the only concern for Bama. Many are wondering how the Tide will respond after having their SEC Title dreams, and Nat'l Championship dreams crushed by their 2nd Conference loss, in Baton Rouge. Nick Saban had this to say, "There’s a lot of improvement and a lot of things that can be done and accomplished relative to the results this team can get. Am I concerned that this team has the pride in performance to do that? I think it’s a reality check for them to see how important it is to you and what are you willing to do to make it happen.” Also, Bama has to learn how to 'rebound' from a loss, something they haven't had to do in quite a while. McElroysaid this about that very issue, "I came to the conclusion that if I was sitting around moping all day, that I’d be mad at myself for letting it get me down, andif I was sitting around happy all day, I’d be mad at myself for blowing it off. It’s one of those situations that we still don’t have a lot of experience doing. Hopefully, we’ll just try to bounce back this week.” Other Bama fans are questioning the play of the OL, and are wondering if the trenches are the root of the problem. After all, "in Southeastern Conference games last year, UA averaged 188 rushing yards per game and allowed only 10 sacks in nine games (including the SEC title game). This season, withthree starters back from the 2009 line, Alabama is averaging 141 yards on the ground and has already allowed 20 sacks through only six SEC games."- Tidesports.com

I myself, think that the magic number for State's Defense is 150. If Diaz and the Dawg D can hold Bama at 150 yds rushing or lower, then State has a great chance to win on Saturday. That's the only key to victory that I'll  share today, the rest will come tomorrow. What's your magic number for the Dawg D?

Just incase you are out of touch with "Who's Who"amongst Alabama's playmakers, here ya go:

  • QB Greg McElroy-2,004 yds, 69%, 13 TDs, 4 INTs
  • RB Mark Ingram- 641 yds, 6.0 avg, 9 TDs
  • RB Trent Richardson- 634 yds, 6.9 avg, 5 TDs
  • WR Julio Jones- 55 rec, 758 yds, 13.8 avg, 4 TDs
  • WR Marquis Maze- 25 rec, 349 yds, 14.0 avg, 1 TD
  • WR Darius Hanks- 22 rec, 339 yds, 15.4 avg, 2 TDs
  • RB Trent Richardson- 19 rec, 245 yds, 12.9 avg, 4 TDs
  • PKs (2) Jeremy Shelley- 8/11; Cade Foster- 6/7

Scout.com talked with MSU QB Chris Relf. The former Bama recruit is thinking along the same lines that we have been all week, which is that MSU will need to pass the ball to beat Alabama. “I think in order for us to win the game this week I’m going to have to pass more, and complete more passes." So, what's Relf think about this week's practice and Saturday's game? “I think we’ve gotten a lot better. We expect to win, we’ve worked hard in practice all week and we’re just want to go out there and win. We just have to go out and execute every play; offense, defense and special teams.”

MSU's Dan Mullen, finally got the opportunity to answer questions about his Football team and his players, rather than about Auburn's Cam Newton. We all have wondered how the Bulldogs mindsets have been effected by the loss of Nick Bell, but apparently State has been focused during this week's practice and preparation "This week we've been able to really turn the focus back to game-planning. A lot of times you kind of peek ahead during the bye week and get some game-planning done; we weren't really able to do that last week with everything going on. But this week our team has regained their focus and gotten back on track as far as getting back into their game-week routine coming off a bye week."

SEC News Items

Bowl Projections from Foxsports.com. MSU vs GT in Nashville? Link

MSU's official statement on the Newton issue. Link

Boise State...here's how strong their conference is (WAC), they are replacing Fresno and Boise with (drum roll)...Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. Wasn't one of those the school on the movie Unnecessary Roughness? More Homecoming teams for everyone, yay! Link

Story on UF's New 3 QB system. Link

SEC might have 12 possible 1st Round picksMSU's Derek Sherrod?  Link

That's it boys...

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