Bulldog Maroon & White

a Mississippi State sports blog

Archive for September, 2008

The Maroon & White Squadron Leaves Baton Rouge With A Moral Victory

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 28, 2008

If you would have told me that Mississippi State would be first on the board against LSU, then I would have politely asked you to kiss some grits that I’d just prepared…..but I’d also warn you that the grits were hot. The game between Mississippi State and LSU certainly didn’t go exactly as expected, in terms of the discrepancy between the scores, but most would agree that the Tigers had the game in hand the whole time.

Considering the conditions in Death Valley, Mississippi State quarterback, Tyson Lee, performed admirably in his first career start. His stats won’t ‘wow’ you (17-26, 175 yards, 1 TD), but the key part is that he managed the game, and that’s what the Bulldogs need most going forward (Lee also did not throw an interception).

Other performance notables include the play of Derek Pegues, on defense and special teams, and senior linebacker Dominic Douglas, who was all over the place. Douglas led the Bulldogs with 11 tackles (1 for a loss, 6 solo, 5 assisted).

No, not every team has a Charles Scott, LSU’s star running back, but the Bulldog defense should be concerned that he was able to dive for additional yardage after initial contact pretty much every time. The offense will need to put in a lot of work in the upcoming off week. Ideally, future game plans will not depend on gimmicks, like running a lot of screen passes, which against LSU, is the engineering equivalent of putting a screen door on a submarine.

So while a moral victory was great, we won’t know if it will have a true positive effect on the team until the games in the coming weeks. Perhaps the fact Tyson Lee is entrenched as the starting quarterback (a safe assumption) will allow Mississippi State to build some consistency. Vanderbilt is up next, and if they can beat Ole Miss, who can beat Florida…..yea, the SEC is tough.

What everyone else is saying:

For certain, the Bulldogs played their most complete game of the year in defeat.
Rick Cleveland, Clarion-Ledger

Well, at least we weren’t completely killed. I think most of us knew going into this game that we weren’t going to win. It is, after all, LSU. They have always had our number. At least we kept the score respectable.
Mississippi State Sports Blog

He had an air of calmness about him, and for the first time, it looked like he was totally confident in everything he was doing. … He played a lot better than I thought he would.
Sylvester Croom on Tyson Lee

The good news:

Punter Blake McAdams is on the Ray Guy Watch List…which is much better than being on the Ray Finkle Watch List.

Posted in bulldog football, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

If Oregon State Can Beat USC, Anything Can Happen….Such As Mississippi State Covering The Spread Against LSU

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 27, 2008

On Thursday, the Oregon State Beavers upset the #1 ranked USC Trojans, who were favored to win by about 25 points. Reports indicate that Trojan jocks are much lighter as the national media is no longer riding them. Every Day Should Be Saturday has all the game puns covered.

So with the LSU Tigers favored by 23.5, 24 points over Mississippi State, might the Bulldogs have a chance to win? Uh….they’ll be lucky if they can just cover.

Let’s see, MSU Coach Sylvester Croom is not only saying that he doesn’t know who will start for the Bulldogs at quarterback on Saturday, but that he might play all three on the roster.

The Blog Bag at Inside Mississippi Sports has some hard hitting questions for Croom, but the fact is, only wins can satisfy people, not answers. Speaking of Brad Locke, he’s predicting a 34-10 win for LSU.

The guest LSU blogger at the Mississippi State Sports Blog is picking the Tigers 35-10, or 31-14, while the return favor is calling the loss for the Dawgs, 45-7.

ESPN.com’s Chris Low is predicting 34-7, LSU Tigers.

Personally, I’m not going to make an exact prediction, but rather will guarantee that LSU will score more than 42 and the Bulldogs will score less than 17. So yes, the Tigers will cover the spread. The best news for the Mississippi State Bulldogs is that not many will see their nationally televised game (ESPN2, 7:30 pm), because most will be watching the big Georgia-Alabama game on ESPN at 7:45 pm. Cheers.

Posted in bulldog football, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Update: Jamont Gordon in Italy (not Greece)

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 26, 2008

The difference between Jamont Gordon, a basketball player who attended Mississippi State University, and Jamon Gordon, a basketball player who attended Virginia Tech, may be as evident as the letter ‘T’ to you and I, but not to everyone.

Recently, a hubbub was created on international professional basketball scene when JaMON Gordon signed with AS Trikala 2000 BC, a team based in Greece. Confusion ensued and popular international basketball site, EuroBasket.com, reported that JamonT Gordon was leaving his team in Italy, Fortitudo Bologna, to head to Greece, when actually, it was the other Gordon.

This whole issue was cleared up today in a story from BasketNet.it, the title google translates to: Case of names, Jamont Gordon will not move from Bologna. (EuroBasket still has Jamont Gordon playing in Greece on his profile, so I sent an email requesting a correction to an otherwise stellar site – they changed it to no team, but I ensure you that Jamont is playing for Fortitudo Bologna.)

So now that I’ve cleared up an issue you probably weren’t even aware of, how is Jamont Gordon doing in Italy?

First, you can go check out a video of Jamont’s Italian press conference, which was posted on the Mississippi State Sports Blog.

Jamont Gordon, Earl Barron, Joe Forte and Qyntel Woods enjoy the Italian countryside - www.fortitudo.it

Jamont Gordon, Earl Barron, Joe Forte and Qyntel Woods enjoy the Italian countryside - http://www.fortitudo.it

August 30: The Fortitudo coaches hosted their new players, along with the rest of the team and staff, to a retreat in the Italian countryside, featuring a “mega-barbecue,” sandwiches, art history, and the general lay-of-the-land.

September 7: In their first preseason game, Fortitudo beat Trenkwalder Reggio Emilia 83-75. Reggio Emilia features former Auburn Tiger, Bryant Smith. In his debut, Jamont Gordon scored 18 points. Unfortunately for Fortitudo, American center, Earl Barron, who spent time with the Miami Heat last season, went down with an ankle injury.

September 10: In their second preseason game, Fortitudo defeated Benetton Treviso 101-97. Qyntel Woods, recovering from back problems, scored 23 points. In a tight game, Jamont Gordon impressed fans and staff alike by scoring a team-high 25 points, 17 coming in the 4th quarter.

September 13: Fortitudo was defeated by Pallacanestro Cantù (featuring former Georgia Bulldog, Sundiata Gaines) 86-78. Joe Forte led Fortitudo Bologna with 25 points, Jamont Gordon netted 23.

September 14: Faced with injuries and having to integrate new American players, Fortitudo lost to Upea Capo d’Orlando 103-95. Translated articles cite defense as the problem. Jamont Gordon scored 25 points.

Jamont Gordon Slams It Home for Fortitudo

Jamont Gordon Slams It Home for Fortitudo - http://www.fortitudo.it

Fortitudo traveled to play in the preseason Memorial Pirazzi Tournament in Verbania, Italy

September 20: In a game against Cimberio Varese (which features former Wake Forest guard, Randolph Childress), where the translation of the description of Gordon includes, “physical and mental strength that does not stop to amaze,” and, “terrifying,” Jamont scored 33 points en route to a 106-76 win for Fortitudo. Evidently, Jamont closed out the game by scoring 16 consecutive points and igniting the crowd with a variety of dunks and ‘and 1’ baskets.

September 21: Fortitudo defeated Pallacanestro Cantù 100-78. Jamont only scored 9 points, Qyntel Woods impressed with 30, and Joe Forte was dubbed the “assist man.”

After those two victories in the Memorial Pirazzi Tournament in Verbania, Foritudo returned home for some two-a-day workouts before they head to Athens, Greece to participate in Varikas, and international tournament sponsored by Panionios F.C., which features former Maryland Terp, Lonny Baxter, and former Kansas Jayhawk, Aaron Miles.

Stay tuned for more updates on Jamont Gordon’s Italian job.

[UPDATE] For a rundown on the Italian League in general, head over to Ball in Europe.

Posted in Bulldog Basketball, bulldogs overseas, jamont gordon, mississippi state bulldogs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Charles Rhodes Being Considered By Regal FC Barcelona

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 25, 2008

Fresh off being drafted in the third round of the CBA draft, there is news out of Spain that Charles Rhodes is being considered by Regal FC Barcelona. Sport.es, a Spanish-Catalan publication, is reporting that former Mississippi State Bulldog, Rhodes, is one of several players being considered as a replacement for a departing post player.

Going off Google’s Translation, and my limited knowledge of Spanish, I’ve gathered that El Barça (one of the team nicknames) is looking for a big man to take the place of 7’1″ Croatian center, Mario Kasun. Kasun, taken 41st overall in the 2002 NBA draft, and having previously spent two seasons (’04-05 and ’05-06) with the Orlando Magic. has moved on to play in Turkey. The Spanish team is also looking at Jake Voskuhl (Milwaukee Bucks), DJ Mbenga (Los Angeles Lakers), Kyrylo Fesenko (Utah Jazz), and Darien Townes (Arkansas Razorbacks).

Regal FC Barcelona, playing in the top Spanish professional basketball league (ACB), has historically been one of the best teams in Spain, and Europe. Regal FC has won 14 ACB league titles and the Euroleague in 2003. NBA players, and Spanish greats, Pau Gasol, his brother Marc, and Juan Carlos Navarro have suited up for Regal FC Barcelona. Rony Seikaly, Anderson Varejão, Šarūnas Jasikevičius, Tony Massenburg, Ed Cota, Gregor Fucka, Pepe Sanchez, Romain Sato (who played against Mississippi State twice while at Xavier – in a game at Madison Square Garden in December 2002, and in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament in March 2004), and Shammond Williams are other prominent players who have played for El Barça.

With the season beginning the weekend of October 4-5, Regal FC Barcelona has a sense of urgency in signing a new post player. Stay tuned to see if Spain is a valid option for Charles Rhodes.

Posted in Bulldog Basketball, bulldogs overseas, charles rhodes, mississippi state bulldogs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Charles Rhodes Drafted!

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 24, 2008

Still wondering about the professional basketball prospects of Mississippi State’s Charles Rhodes? Yea, me too.

Last I heard about Rhodes, he went from showing he belonged in the NBA, to mulling over European offers (vs. training camp with the Dallas Mavericks), to possibly joining forces with Jamont Gordon in Italy.

Well, last night, Charles Rhodes finally got drafted….by someone. The Continental Basketball Association held their draft on Tuesday evening and Rhodes was selected in the 3rd round (12th overall) by the East Kentucky Miners.

The CBA….it’s not doing so well. Dubbed as the “World’s Oldest League,” the CBA stuck around for several decades…until Isiah Thomas came along in 1999. Under the watch of Thomas, the CBA went bankrupt and ceased operations by 2001. That fall, some remaining CBA teams merged with teams from the International Basketball League (IBL), but continued to be called the CBA.

Since, the league has struggled, mostly due to the National Basketball Development League (NBDL) and its official association with the NBA.  The CBA website currently lists 11 teams, however, Wikipedia lists only six teams, and only five participated in the draft.

So, while the CBA would be considered the last of the last options for Charles Rhodes, at least someone is showing him some love.

[UPDATE: The CBA Draft Party for the East Kentucky Miners was held at Applebee’s — Go America!]

Posted in Bulldog Basketball, bulldogs in nba, charles rhodes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

MSU Bulldog Basketball Gets A Commit From Shaunessy Smith

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 24, 2008

With news from the Clarion-Ledger Mississippi State Sports Blog, Noxubee County’s Shaunessy Smith has made a non-binding, oral commitment to play basketball for Mississippi State University.

This is great news for Rick Stansbury’s program. For one, he’s getting a player to stay in-state. At times, it’s gone unnoticed that while at MSU, Stansbury has done an excellent job at keeping Mississippi talent from going across state lines.

The 6’6″ Smith is ranked as a 4-star recruit, and the 23rd best shooting guard prospect in the nation by Scout.com. He received interest from the likes of Ole Miss, Baylor, Kentucky, Cincinnati, UAB, Iowa, Oklahoma, Clemson, and USC, which recently raised some concern from Bulldog fans when they hosted Smith on a visit to their Southern California campus, during the USC-Ohio State football game no less.

ESPN U’s Basketball Recruiting (provided by Scouts Inc.) has this to say about Shaunessy Smith:

Shaunessy Smith is perhaps the most under-the-radar, high talent player in the Class of 2009. He has incredible athletic abilities and very advanced guard skills. He actually can play both guard positions but will predominantly be at the second or off-guard position because of his excellent shooting and high scoring ability. As a junior, Smith was an All-State performer and averaged nearly 30 ppg., despite playing all season with a torn ligament in his right hip. In early May he had surgery to repair his hip and missed all of the summer basketball events. As a result very few have seen him play.

‘Under the radar’ sound familiar? Yes, Scotty Hopson was under-the-radar when he made his non-binding, oral commitment to Mississippi State, before opting for Bruce Pearl and the University of Tennessee instead.

Could Smith garner national recognition and spurn the Bulldogs just as Hopson did? Not so fast. Smith plays ball in Macon, Mississippi, a hop, skip, and a jump (less than an hour drive) from Mississippi State’s campus in Starkville. So Smith has undoubtedly taken many ‘unofficial’ trips to Starkville on his own accord to get familiar with his possible future teammates.

T.J. “Brown” Billups is Smith’s Coach at Noxubee County. Billups, if you remember, played basketball for five years at Mississippi State (1996-2001, red-shirted his second year), his last three years under Head Coach Rick Stansbury.

Rest assured Bulldog fans as the chances of seeing Shaunessy in maroon & white are pretty good. Good luck to Smith in his senior year, we’ll be keeping an eye on his development.

Posted in basketball recruiting, Bulldog Basketball, mississippi state bulldogs, shaunessy smith | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Can The Mississippi State Football Season Be Salvaged? The Shellacking at Georgia Tech

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 21, 2008

Saturday’s 38-7 loss to the Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech was unquestionably demoralizing for Mississippi State Bulldog fans. I can’t imagine what the players and coaches are going through. Bulldog Coach Sylvester Croom is evaluating himself more than anything else right now.

I can’t exactly pinpoint what went wrong for the Bulldogs, because everything went wrong, aside from a 71 yard run, and an amazing leap over a Tech player by MSU’s Anthony Dixon. The national media is asking ‘what now?’, and I’m personally questioning whether Mississippi State can beat Middle Tennessee (who beat Maryland, who beat Cal, ranked #23 at the time, who beat Michigan State, who beat Notre Dame, who beat Michigan), much less any SEC team on the remaining schedule.

When the Bulldogs chose to defer the ball at the beginning of the game, I thought, ‘Good, let the defense set the tone.’ Unfortunately, the Mississippi State D looked unprepared for Georgia Tech’s triple-option scheme. The Yellow Jackets marched down the field, ignoring the fact that they lost both their starting quarterback, Josh Nesbitt, and starting center on the opening drive. Running on every play, the Tech offensive line was in run-block mode, easily getting a stronger push and giving the Yellow Jacket running backs space to run down hill. The tone of the day was set on those first 11 plays which led to a Tech touchdown.

I remained optimistic when the Dawgs broke the 3rd down seal on their first drive (remember, MSU didn’t convert one 3rd down against Auburn). Then came the ‘are you kidding me?’ moment. How on earth does a snap get hiked 15 feet in the air on the very next play? Was it intended to be a direct snap to the half back?….a sickening blooper nonetheless. MSU Center, JC Brignone, said he “gripped the ball wrong.”

With the gift of great field position to the Yellow Jackets on the Bulldog 40, Tech looked to have superior athletes on offense over the Mississippi State defense. After driving down to the 15-yard line, Georgia Tech had to call a timeout. From there, Mississippi State looked better prepared in stopping a pitch for a loss and putting great pressure on backup Tech QB, Jaybo Shaw. Unfortunately, a pass as Shaw was hit seemed destined to land in the hands of Demaryius Thomas. A lucky play and a 14-0 lead for Georgia Tech just like that.

On the very first play of the next possession for the Bulldogs, Anthony Dixon broke a 71 yard run all the way to the Tech 9-yard line…..a true indicator of a weird game to that juncture of the day. Dixon rushed it to the five on 1st down, Robert Elliott pounded it to the one on 2nd down. But on that play, Coach Croom declined an offsides call, opting for 3rd and goal from the one foot line, rather than 2nd and goal from the 5….bad choice in hindsight. The Rambling Wreck prevailed on the “manhood” issue (as dubbed by television commentator Doc Walker). Mississippi State could not punch it in, and the insult on top of injury was that Adam Carlson’s FG attempt was blocked…this is where I initially lost my cool.

At the beginning of the 2nd quarter, the Bulldogs came up short on another manhood test, losing 7 yards on a 4th and 1 attempt from the Georgia Tech 38. Tech took the field position, drove the ball, and won yet another manhood test on 4th and 3 from the MSU 25. Quarterback Jaybo Shaw then took a sneak 25 yards for a TD, effectively putting the game out of reach before the half…21-0 Georgia Tech.

And when the chips were down, things got worse for the Dawgs. On the next play, Wesley Carroll, on a roll out, had a wide open receiver, but with the pressure coming, he zinged a pass that was too high to catch. The ball was tipped and intercepted by Tech’s Jahi Word-Daniels, giving Tech great field position once again on the State 27.

After a defensive stop, Croom stuck with Carroll at QB. Early in the possession, Anthony Dixon made an amazing, Knowshon Moreno-esque leap over a Georgia Tech player. Carroll actually put together a nice 14 play drive, longest of the day, threatening to score a touchdown before the half…until he threw slightly behind a receiver, who was also unable to time his jump to go after Carroll’s pass. The result was another turnover, a Yellow Jacket interception on the two-yard line, seconds before the end of the 2nd quarter.

With the ball at the beginning of the second half, the Bulldog offense, somewhat similar to the last drive of the first half, show the potential for capability, but could not make the plays that counted towards an ultimate scoring effort.

Then it got ugly….

The first time Georgia Tech touched the ball in the 2nd half (after a Bulldog punt), Jonathan Dwyer ran an 80 yard play for a touchdown. 28-0 Georgia Tech. Mississippi State put the icing on the cake with a personal foul after the touchdown, the culprit was Jessie Bowman.

Enter backup Bulldog QB, Tyson Lee, in a ‘why not?’ moment….two plays for lost yardage, three and out.

The next time Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer touched the ball, he checked off a 37 yard run to the MSU 28. This time, K.J. Wright put the icing on the cake with another personal foul against the Bulldogs after the play….a loss of discipline that I thought died with the Jackie Sherrill era. I suppose when the doors come off, anything can happen. Tech had TD that was negated by a chop block, so they settled for a field goal, 31-0 Yellow Jackets.

My attention was waning by the time Tech made it a 38-0 game on their first drive of the 4th quarter. When the Dawgs finally scored a TD on a sustained drive, it was tainted by a stupid celebration. No, Robert Elliott wasn’t dancing, or doing anything exuberant, but the fact that he did anything at all was bad enough. When down 38-6 (before the extra point), just put the damn ball down and head to the sidelines.

And that was pretty much the end to an ugly day. Tyson Lee did remain in the game for the duration, and even led State on a pride drive with the game clock running down. But on 4th and goal, with seconds left, Lee was heavily pressured and made an idiotic decision to just toss the ball away, which ended up being a fumble.

So where do the Mississippi State Bulldogs go from here? Well, unfortunately to Baton Rouge for a prime-time ESPN2 matchup with the LSU Tigers in Death Valley. Is it possible to salvage the 2008 season, the definition to ‘salvage’ meaning to become bowl eligible with six wins? The prospects don’t exactly look good when the Dawgs seemingly must hope for a moral victory, at best, against LSU.

But aside from the Tigers, looking down the schedule, Alabama is the only team that looks like a top 10 national talent. Tennessee is far from elite and the other games could go either way. But knowing what we know about the season so far, if every aspect of this Bulldog team doesn’t come together expediently, those games will go the wrong way.

Posted in bulldog football, georgia tech, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech: The Prediction

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 19, 2008

Danny Sheridan on USA Today has the Yellow Jackets giving the Bulldogs 7.5 points on Saturday. If I was a gambling man in Vegas, I take the Bulldogs and the points. It’s not so much a hunch, rather just a lot of points for an ACC team to give an SEC team, especially since I believe the Bulldog defense has the ability to keep the game close, in spite of the Bulldog offense.

Now, perhaps Sheridan made his line when the status of staring running back, Anthony Dixon, was in question. However, late last night, it was reported that Dixon would see time on the field. So, while DocSports.com is reporting that many betting sites had Tech favored by 7.5 or even 8.0 at around noon yesterday, the line in Vegas may change by the end of Friday. The current live odds on Yahoo has the Yellow Jackets giving up 8 points.  I can’t imagine Dixon being more than a point or point and a half swing….even then, at 6.0 or 6.5, I’m inclined to take Mississippi State.

But what about the game, can the Bulldogs actually go into Atlanta and come out with a win?

I could go on, and on, and on…..but is anybody picking the Bulldogs for the upset? Sure, there are a couple:

Well you know what….I’ll also pick the Bulldogs. I think their defense will limit big plays on the ground for Tech (you better step up too secondary), and force a couple of turnovers that will put the Bulldog offense in “can’t lose” position (I know, I know…I thought that happened against Auburn too).

Mississippi State 16 – Georgia Tech 10

Posted in bulldog football, georgia tech, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

One Quarterback, Two Quarterback: The Mississippi State Dilemma

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 18, 2008

One quarterback, two quarterback, two points, two losses.

Ok, so not exactly how Dr. Seuss wrote it, but when a season is on the brink, a football coach, or any sports coach for that matter, can’t just stick with the script. He must find a way to motivate players with a little friendly competition, yet provide the public appearance of unwavering support so as not to shake anyone’s confidence.

In game one, Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom decided to experiment with a two quarterback system. It seems like media pundits (especially those who are former players and/or coaches) never agree with this method. I see their point. The goal of teams should be to build constancy, and with teetering change at the leadership position, you certainly can’t expect the feeling of constancy to filter down to the rest of the organization.

However, without exhibition games to see what he truly has, I can’t blame Coach Croom for taking a game-action comparative look at somewhat tested, but still young sophomore, Wesley Carroll, and Bulldog newbie, juco transfer Tyson Lee. Of course, we all know how the experiment went in the embarrassing loss to Louisiana Tech.

So Croom put a halt to the madness and said Carroll was his guy for SE Louisiana and Auburn. Ignoring the win against the SELA Lions, 116 total yards, 0-14 on 3rd down, and 0 points later, Croom’s not so sure he’s sticking to the plan, or is he?

In this past Monday’s teleconference, Croom said, “Wes will be the starting quarterback. He did some good things, he made some good throws. … I feel like he still gives us our best chance to win.”

But by Wednesday, Croom’s tune was a melody about maybe “using others” at the QB spot. Others such as Tyson Lee or 3rd stringer Chris Relf…he didn’t specify, but did play it off as if quarterback was like “any other position.” Really? News to me that QB would be so trivial (not saying that other positions are trivial, but in comparison….)

There’s been no indication on who the 2nd and 3rd string offensive coordinators are, but there have been rumors that Woody McCorvey is no longer allowed to use the ‘Os’ in his name.

What does it all mean? That Wesley Carroll has a short leash and Tyson Lee, or even Chris Relf, better be ready should they be given a chance. To the national media, a quandary such as this probably doesn’t mean a ton for an SEC team with bottom of the barrel expectations. To impatient Bulldog faithful, it means everything in the world and this weekend’s game against Georgia Tech means everything to the season.

Posted in bulldog football, georgia tech, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jarvis Varnado Ranked 5th Best SEC NBA Prospect By Draft Express

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 16, 2008

The popular NBA draft website, Draft Express, has been ranking the top NBA prospects from various NCAA conferences. The top five basketball players the Southeastern Conference has to offer was released on September 15th.

Mississippi State center, junior-to-be Jarvis Varnado, was ranked 5th behind Vanderbilt center, Andrew Ogilvy, Kentucky Forward, Patrick Patterson, Tennessee forward, Tyler Smith, and Florida guard, Nick Calathes.

I suggest you go read the well-researched full profile on Varnado, but a couple excerpts which stood out to me are below.

At 6’9” he [Jarvis Varnado] is maybe a tad undersized for a post player, but what really hinders him is his tremendously narrow frame. The reports last season were that Varnado has bulked up to 210 pounds, but from what we were able to see from him at the Adidas Nations event in Dallas last month, he still needs to put on a good 20 pounds before he can consistently hold his ground on the block. His narrow shoulders don’t appear as though they support the type of natural filling out that he needs to go through.

At this point, unless he makes huge strides this season, Varnado is likely going to need to be a four-year prospect. This season will be a good test for him, as he now must become more of a factor in the Bulldog’s offense. While there have been hints of a developing mid-range jumper, he must first become a more effective low post scorer, and adding weight would be a step in the right direction for him. Showing more hustle as a perimeter defender too would only add to his growing reputation as a stopper on the other end of the floor.

Posted in bulldogs in nba, mississippi state bulldogs, nba draft, ncaa basketball, sec basketball, SEC Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hey Woody McCorvey, What’s Going On (with the Mississippi State offense)?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 14, 2008

Marvin Gaye may have been signing about the issues of his day in “What’s going on?,” but if he saw the Mississippi State-Auburn game on Saturday night, he would’ve shown soulful concern about the Bulldogs offense. People are calling the 3-2 loss historical. I’d agree, but would further categorize it as a tragedy.

I can’t put all the blame on offensive coordinator Woody McCorvery. The Bullldog offensive line was horrific, Wesley Carroll looked inexperienced, and ultimately, a performance such as the one put on by Mississippi State falls on the shoulders of Sylvester Croom.

Before I go any further……Mississippi State Defense = A+^10 – Yep, they were that good. Credit the strength and conditioning coaches too, led by Ben Pollard; the defensive dawgs never gave up. The punt coverage portion of special teams also gets a gold star, punter Blake McAdams did more than his part….can’t exactly say the same for the MSU return team.

I must give credit to the Auburn Tiger defense as well. The Tiger D-Line simply over-powered the Bulldogs’ pass protection. I can’t blame the coaches for trying to be creative play to their o-line weaknesses by having Carroll roll out so much, unfortunate that it was part of the initial game plan.

But even on the run, attempting West Coast dinks and dunks, (many times well short of the first down line on 3rd and whatever) Carroll was limited to bad decisions and the occasional crisp pass when given the chance. Spreading the blame around, however, I saw some less than stellar routes run by Bulldog receivers.

Questionable Calls

4-1, Auburn 37, 10:10 left in the 3rd (start of drive)
I don’t mind going for it here. I don’t even mind the pass attempt (of course the struggling o-line was factored in), but it was simply not a cleanly run play. Brandon Henderson ran a poor route, and Carroll’s timing was off.

4-1, Auburn 41, 7:06 left in the 4th (start of drive)
Well, it was gut check time, and one would expect the Bulldogs to allow for Christian Ducre to pound it through. The players just didn’t make plays, so I still don’t blame the coaching decision.

4-15, MSU 48, 4:48 left in the 4th (start of drive)
This is where i have a problem. I understand that the defense had been on the field a ton at that point of the game. But give them some credit, at least they were playing with the pride it takes to get yet another big stop (they did end up getting the ball back as a gift turnover). I might understand if Mississippi State needed a touchdown for the win, but a field goal sufficing makes punting the right call.

Quotes from the Press

Defense tries, but can’t win all by itself, NE Mississippi Daily Journal – Brad Locke

“We were one play away all night,” said Carroll, who was 10 for 25 for 78 yards and the pick. “We had them where we wanted them. We just didn’t make the play.”

“I don’t blame anybody,” the coach said. “The coaches are coaching hard, the kids are working hard. The thing about offense is, if one guy makes a mistake, you’ve got problems.”

“I thought the ball was slightly under-thrown, and I thought B-Mac should’ve gone up and gotten the ball,” Croom said. “Last week down in end zone he did great job on the fade route. If he goes up to catch the ball, at worst it’s going to be an incomplete pass.”

  1. It’s never good to be “one play away all night,” because all those ‘one plays’ add up to an insurmountable sum.
  2. Don’t blame anybody….blame EVERYbody, except the defense and Blake McAdams.
  3. If Brandon McRae has any next level aspirations, he makes that play.

It’s not the end of the world for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. To sum it up, the offense has hit rock bottom and can only go up from here. Somebody needs to have an intervention with someone in the coming week, if not everyone with themselves. The Dawgs will get a chance to flex their SEC muscle against a weak Georgia Tech team from the questionable ACC….’regroup’ is the word of the day.

Meanwhile, the guys at Track ‘Em Tigers are taking the ‘win is a win’ attitude that I would be having a healthy dose of had the roles been reversed.

Game Recap: mstateathletics.com

Posted in auburn tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports, starkville | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Football Is On, But I’m Still Thinking About Mississippi State Basketball

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 13, 2008

About three weeks back, I had a post covering a couple MSU basketball predictions: collegehoopsnet ranking the Bulldogs #96 and Dick Vitale putting MSU at #36 in his preseason top 40.

Well, I failed to mention that ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has the Bulldogs predicted to make the Big Dance (his Bracketology was last updated way back on June 18th). MSU is a falling #7 seed and would play #10 seed UNLV in Portland, Oregon (West Regional). Of course, that was before Jamont Gordon went undrafted by the NBA on June 26th, but a couple days after it was pretty much official that Gordon would not be returning to Starkville.

Also, on June 17th, ESPN’s Andy Katz had Mississippi State in his 16 others under consideration outside of his preseason top 25.

We still have a way to go before college basketball talk gets seriously serious…so I’ll reserve any predictions on my part until further down the road, not to mention that the Mississippi State basketball schedule has yet to be released. It seems like MSU is always one of the last in the conference to release.

Other Previews to Check:

Where Does Rick Stansbury Rank?

Seth Stogsdill of UK Wildcat Country has ranked all SEC basketball coaches on two scales: recruiting and actual coaching. Stansbury comes in as the #3 recruiter in the league. Stogsdill gives the same ol’ song and dance, insinuating that Stansbury’s success derives from him being the most habitual rule bender. I certainly have my own thoughts on the subject (see Is Mississippi State Basketball a “No-Win” Situation?).

I can’t bemoan the fact that this point about Stansbury is driven home over and over again, I suppose it will always come with the territory of anyone who produces a winning team out of lil’ ol’ Starkville. But c’mon, most “dirty” connotations about Rick Stansbury seem to act as if the fecal matter of other college coaches fails to emit a stench.

In any case, here’s what Stogsdill had to say:

I’ll be blunt here: Nobody knows how to cheat and not get caught better than Rick Stansbury. I haven’t been to Starkville, MS, but from what I’ve been told, there’s a Kroger, a Pizza Hut, a couple of stoplights and an SEC university. The basketball team has next to no tradition, yet Stansbury has pulled in some unbelevable classes, mainly by using the AAU circuits, which are ruining the game. In the original recruiting ploy to secure a commitment from Scotty Hopson, I’m pretty sure that Stansbury signed several of his AAU teammates. Some call it conquering the recruiting machine, I call it shady, but except for the Hopson situation, it’s worked to perfection for State.

Stogsdill ranks Stansbury #6 in the conference at coaching, which sounds about right.

Rick Stansbury has been at Mississippi State since 2000 and has had a team full of his own recruits since 2002. That was the year of the infamous Mario Austin game. Since that year, I have never felt like Kentucky was going to win convincingly against the Bulldogs. It’s no coincidence that State has made the Big Dance in five of those seven seasons. Last year, they played Memphis tougher than any team besides Tennessee and Kansas. They typically hold onto leads, unless they have to shoot a lot of FTs. They have had guys who create mismatches in every one of Stansbury’s seasons since 2002. Their players develop nicely, and I reference Austin and Jamont Gordon as the best examples. He’s the reason why State has been the most consistent team in the West this decade.

Posted in mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa basketball, rick stansbury, sec basketball, SEC Sports | 1 Comment »