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Can The Bulldogs Build Off The Vanderbilt Win?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on October 14, 2008

In Saturday’s upset win over Vanderbilt, Tyson Lee continued to prove himself adept at managing the game, a QB who hasn’t existed at Mississippi State in seemingly forever. I’ll still maintain that the last good Bulldog quarterback was Sleepy Robinson.  But don’t worry, I’m not anointing Lee to any privileged status just yet. The kid has a way to go, but I like the progression.

Part of the Bulldogs success resulted from creative play calling in the early going. Some passes, some draws, but mostly runs…oh, and a little luck in Vandy being off sides on a blocked field goal. Sure the first drive of the game only resulted in three points, but an early score is exactly what the doctor prescribed. Another part of success involved Tyson Lee being a gritty S.O.B. (all due respects to his mother….the semantics is a compliment in this case) and using his feet to make key plays.

Mississippi State was not without their mistakes. Punter Blake McAdams looked far from a Ray Guy candidate. Penalties continued to be part of the story: a face-mask giving Vandy 1st and goal at the one, a bad offsides on Kyle Love, a running your mouth way after the play is over on Co-Eric Riley. J.C. Brignone didn’t return confidence in him either with a bad snap on a big 3rd down at the end of the third quarter.

Ultimately, the Bulldogs prevailed. The game changing play coming as an early 4th quarter interception by De’Mon Glanton, and Croom deciding to punch the ball in with field position at the Vanderbilt seven. I’m sure Bulldog “faithful” would have booed if Christian Ducre didn’t score a TD on 3rd and goal from the three yard line. But who cares what the fans think (or would have thought)? Sylvester Croom especially should not, and that’s why he chose to run and not pass.

To my question, can the Bulldogs build off the Vandy win? I think so. This team is coming together, mostly speaking about offense and the ability of the coaches to call the right plays. They are getting used to their confirmed starting quarterback and Tyson Lee is gaining the trust of his teammates. Mississippi State still must, I repeat, must learn how to limit self inflicted mistakes. Tennessee is a vulnerable opponent. If the Bulldogs play their cards right, a shot at season redemption is in sight.

Suggested Links:

This is cool….Mississippi State will play Jackson State in football in 2009. Regional rivals playing each other is what college sports should be all about (well, part of it). Now when will a Memphis-Mississippi State match-up in basketball or football, be a reality.

Brad Locke has some good post-game quotes at Inside Mississippi State Sports.

Sylvester Croom deservedly gets a helmet sticker from ESPN.com’s Chris Low.

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Are The Bulldogs Primed For An Upset of Vandy?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on October 10, 2008

It seems to happen every year. A college football team makes an unexpected run….sometimes it’s a school from a BCS conference, sometimes it’s a Hawaii or a Boise State. More often than not, in the early going of the season, there is more than one undefeated hopeful. The year, the 13th ranked (AP) Vanderbilt Commodores are one of those hopefuls.

Vandy has beaten ranked South Carolina and Auburn teams en route to their current 5-0 record. Their road ahead won’t be easy: at Georgia next week, along with match-ups against Florida, Tennessee and at Wake Forest in the future. Now, I’m pretty sure the Commodores aren’t looking past the Mississippi State Bulldogs. When you’ve never been in this position before, you cherish every game, knowing you can’t afford to misjudge an opponent.

To this week’s game between Mississippi State and Vanderbilt…..how about some predictions:

My Prediction: The Bulldogs are rested, tired of losing, and desire to ruin it for an unheralded team. Vandy gets brought back to earth, 31-28 Mississippi State (I know, high scoring for two lumbering offenses).

—————-

In other links:

Sylvester Croom is making a move in hopes of making Vandy not do one of those “little things” – which is limiting turnovers.

Tyson Lee is starting, but will be facing the “real deal.”

Maybe it’s the coaching….ESPN.com’s Chris Low does not rank any of the Mississippi State position coaches or coordinators among the best in conference.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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What Vegas Has To Say About MSU Bulldog Football

Posted by Kyle Weidie on July 15, 2008

The over/under on win totals for 48 DI college football teams have been posted over at Vegas Watch. The o/u for Sylvester Croom’s Mississippi State Bulldog football squad has been set at seven games, and Vegas doesn’t like the odds for the Bulldogs to cover the over. Not to condone gambling, but the numbers out of Sin City always serve as an interesting predictor for upcoming seasons.

The money lines for the Bulldogs winning more than seven games is +155 and the under is -175. Of the eight other schools listed as having seven set as their o/u (Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Purdue, and Texas A&M), only Mississippi State and Purdue are underdogs to achieve the over. The Boilermakers are less of a dog at +120.

The true value on MSU Bulldog wins is 6.48…..so, 6-6 gets you to a bowl game, but does it keep Bulldog fans satisfied?

Looking at the true value of other SEC schools, here’s where the Bulldogs rank:

  1. Florida – 10.14
  2. Georgia – 9.36
  3. Auburn – 9.19
  4. LSU – 8.95
  5. Tennessee – 8.10
  6. South Carolina – 7.74
  7. Alabama – 7.52
  8. Miss. State – 6.48
  9. Arkansas – 5.74
  10. Ole Miss – 5.50
  11. Vanderbilt – 3.10
  12. Kentucky is not listed

Personally, after glancing at the schedule, I like the chances of at least a 7-5 season. One could hope for no let downs against either Louisiana Tech, Southeastern Louisiana, or Middle Tennessee. 3 wins. The Bulldogs pull off Ws against each of the teams below them on the totem pole above, all except for Ole Miss are home games. 7 wins. And on top of that, Georgia Tech (true value of 5.81) and Alabama are both beatable, albeit, those two games are on the road.

In any case, I’m almost optimistic enough to book a flight to Vegas. Go Dawgs!

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