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Mississippi State AD Tells Fans to Chill, Stay Together

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 4, 2008

Ok…well, not in so many words, but Mississippi State’s brand new Athletic Director, Greg Byrne, had some refreshing words for Bulldog fans after a disappointing loss to Louisiana Tech in the season opener.

From Byrne’s September 2nd release:

IT TAKES ALL OF US PULLING IN THE SAME DIRECTION

Our football season did not begin the way any of us would have liked.  Understandably, our fans and supporters are disappointed.  And we received a number of emails immediately after the game was over.  Many were supportive, and some were critical.

We’ve made this statement before, but the only way we will achieve success here at Mississippi State is if everyone is pulling that rope in the same direction.  Please know that we understand that what makes this business wonderful is the passion and enthusiasm that we all share for what we do.  But that is also what makes Saturday night’s result so challenging.  We all have to rebound from that feeling and move forward.  There are 11 games to go and the only way we will be able to have success is if we do it collectively.

Lest we forget, Saturday night was just as difficult on our student-athletes and coaches, who have been preparing for this 2008 season since January.  They’re not going to let last Saturday’s results deter them…we can’t either.

Fans overreact, it certainly comes with the territory of sports. But finding the need to send emails “immediately” after the game? That’s a bit too much. I’d bet that you could easily adjust Bryne’s sentence to say, ‘Some were supportive, and many were critical.’

I would hope that those going on knee-jerk diatribes do not act with such thoughtless haste in their everyday lives, but my intuition tells me I’m being too optimistic. Then again, for some, Mississippi State football is their everyday life, or at least they think it is.

Greg Byrne’s words are clear and to the point. Hopefully the message of support and staying together does not fall on deaf ears. It’s nice to see a college athletic director to take such a firmly worded stance. Now if the MSU Bulldogs lose to SE Louisiana…….

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Bulldogs Beating Bulldogs, an embarrassing loss for Mississippi State

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 3, 2008

The signs are easy to recognize now in hindsight. The Mississippi State-Louisiana Tech college football opener, having been preempted by Michigan-Utah, which relegated me to a soundless screening on ESPN360.com, didn’t get off to an auspicious start. Let’s go over what happened when two of the four FBS teams nicknamed “Bulldogs” squared off.

1st Quarter
La Tech started out passing, a lot, to the tune of eight out of their first nine offensive plays. The MSU defense put decent pressure on Tech’s quarterback, Taylor Bennett, save for a three-man rush which allowed Tech to convert a 3rd and 10. Opening drive discipline for the Bulldog defense, combined with a couple Tech false starts, led to a punt.

In his first drive, MSU’s Wesley Carroll looked to have some opening game jitters, leading to poor execution. The Miss. State offense on the second drive looked in-sync. I was particularly a fan of the diverse play calling. Carroll made four great passes, three of them totaling 62 yards, on the way to a score. Mississippi State did not face one third down. 7-0 MSU Bulldogs.

The Louisiana Tech offense stayed persistent against a thought-to-be dominant Mississippi State defense. They spread the field, called some gutsy plays, and did what they had to do in order to stay away from State’s defensive line. The end result was a 48 yard field goal. 7-3 MSU Bulldogs.

On their next possession, the Bulldogs became unwound. It started when a 70+ yard reverse option from Brandon McRae got negated by the holding of Co-Eric Riley. Miss. State went into West Coast(ish) mode with some quick hitting passes, until Wesley Carroll & Co. got a little too cute. DB Weldon Brown of La Tech, aka, Spiderman (I’ll call him that since ESPN related a story about Brown having been bitten by a spider over the summer, having endured a hospital stay, and playing that day with an open wound), batted down an ill-advised attempt and on the very next play, his fellow DB, Antonio Baker, intercepted a lame duck.

2nd Quarter
Wesley Carroll was 7-12 in the first quarter with 105 yards, and you could almost say the one interception wasn’t his fault as he was hit while throwing. However, he regressed. MSU started the 2nd quarter with an incomplete pass, a false start, and a mis-communicated interception. This is the point where most would question the lack of dedication to the running game.

The male Techsters marched down the field, threatening to score with 2nd and goal on the 5-yard line. Just like their opponent, the Tech Bulldogs tried to get “cute” on offense. A half-back pass attempt was intercepted by an alert Keith Fitzhugh in the end zone.

Tyson Lee’s first appearance at QB for Mississippi State was hit and miss – he scored two short range passes, then fumbled and got sacked. The offensive line wasn’t exactly holding up its end of the deal either.

Lee’s second chance was muffled by a dose of the running game, which largely consisted of an Anthony Dixon juke and jump scamper for 31 yards. Lee proved Red Zone worthy with a surprise pass play on 4th down and a 13-yard pass which set up a 1-year Brandon Hart touchdown run. 14-3 MSU Dawgs.

Things seemed to go well until special teams went south. Miss. State allowed themselves to be pinned on the 1-yard line, and then yielded a 28-yard return on a slacking 33-yard punt. La Tech had it made with position at MSU’s 13-yard line. Tech’s Patrick Jackson was ultimately responsible for the resulting TD run, going through the chest of MSU’s Tay Bowser, who at least blocked the subsequent extra point. 14-9 Mississippi State.

3rd Quarter
The second half started off with more special teams trouble in the form of an MSU Bulldog fumble on the kick-off. But MSU’s Keith Fitzhugh stepped up with another  interception.

The defense stopped Tech on their next possession as well, but special teams came tapping with the same song and dance…a Jamayel Smith fumble, La Tech ball at the 9, draw play from the 6, touchdown – chances given by MSU for free. 16-14 Louisiana Tech.

Carroll came back in the game and looked ready to march, driving the ball down to the Tech 19, and aided by a 3rd and 12 conversion to Co-Eric Riley for 26 yards. But Carroll also showed a gunslinger mentality leading up to his third interception of the game.

La Tech took the pick 42 yards and MSU tacked on 15 with unsportsmanlike conduct. The MSU defense held their ground and Tech kicked a FG. 19-14 Louisiana Tech.

4th Quarter
The return of Tyson Lee: Look, I didn’t mind Croom trying Lee earlier in the game, and he almost had to put him in after the third Carroll interception. Bad decision, in hindsight, as the offense sputtered, also thanks to a motivated Louisiana Tech defense.

With momentum, the Tech offense had their way. They won the battle of the bulge on a huge 4th down attempt from the 42 with one yard to go. Tech’s Patrick Jackson would not go down after a couple hits, and the Tech Bulldogs would go on to score a 50 yard field goal from the sensational Brad Oestricher. 22-14 La Tech Bulldogs.

With his coach’s confidence and the reigns still in his hands, Tyson Lee could not lead the MSU Bulldogs to victory. MSU had two chances to drive and tie the game in the final seven minutes, one of which was created by a gift punt recovery off a Tech player’s back, but each ending result was a punt. Game over.

Special teams didn’t step up when they were needed and the offense didn’t succeed when it mattered most. Louisiana Tech played a good game and the win was well deserved. Mississippi State simply did not look fully prepared and their play was not inspiring.

Links:

Posted in louisiana tech, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports, sylvester croom | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Countdown to 6:45 PM on Saturday

Posted by Kyle Weidie on August 25, 2008

Why 6:45 pm (eastern)? Well, that’s when the Mississippi State Bulldogs open their 2008-2008 football season against the Louisiana Tech University Bulldogs in Ruston, Louisiana on ESPN2.

The August 30th meeting will mark the first time an SEC school has traveled to the northern Louisiana town since 1913. And as outlined in this Clarion-Ledger article, the college town of 20,000 plus is buzzing. Louisiana Tech athletic officials are hoping to break their 28,714 attendance record and have raised normal ticket prices from the range of $8-$22 to $40.

You can also check out the Clarion-Ledger for a game preview. The quick run down, La Tech’s offense will be decent (8 returning starters), but their defense will be far below par. This bodes well for a MSU Bulldog offense which has struggled in practice leading up to the season. Mississippi State’s defense should take care of business, even without all-SEC performer, Derek Pegues, who was suspended for the opener for not going to class.

Most betting sites have the Bulldogs favored by either 8 or 8.5 points with the over/under being set at 45.5.

My prediction: Mississippi State 34, Louisiana Tech 17

As far as season predictions: Rick Cleveland and Kyle Veazy, both of the Clarion-Ledger, each have Mississippi State going 7-5.  Gregg Ellis, of the NE Miss. Daily Journal, ups his outlook to 8-4.

Personally, I think 7-5 is a cake walk. I’m slightly pessimistic about eight wins…..because let’s be honest, this is Mississippi State Football….something will go wrong. Of course, I’m optimistic that Sylvester Croom has finally changed the culture. How much? Well, we will have a good read by late Saturday evening.

GO DAWGS!

Posted in louisiana tech, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, sylvester croom | Leave a Comment »

MSU Bulldog Football On CBS?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on August 18, 2008

Somehow CBS has accidentally leaked their SEC football broadcast schedule for this upcoming season….not sure why it must be a “leak” or an “accident” – CBS typically doesn’t announce the games they will televise until around 10 days before the match-up.

Nonetheless, Saturdays in the South seems to have stumbled onto something, and Deadspin is trying to confirm.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs only appear once on this supposedly tentative schedule….it’s the November 22nd date with Arkansas in Starkville. The caveat is that Ole Miss @ LSU and Tennessee @ Vanderbilt also appear as televised possibilities on the same date.

Right now, the Bulldogs only have three televised games on the schedule: the August 30 opener at Louisiana Tech (ESPN2) , the September 13 matchup versus Auburn in Starkville (ESPN2), and the November 28 finale against Ole Miss in Oxford (Raycom).

Let’s hope that Miss. State remains relevant up until that second to last game versus Arkansas. It’d be nice for Coach Croom and his Bulldogs to be broadcast into the living rooms of fans and potential recruits alike.

Posted in arkansas razorbacks, auburn tigers, louisiana tech, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, ole miss rebels, sec football, starkville, sylvester croom, tennessee volunteers, vanderbilt commodores | Leave a Comment »

Mississippi State Bulldog Football Overtime

Posted by Kyle Weidie on August 6, 2008

No, this post will not cover the history of Bulldog football over time, rather, the overtime history of Bulldog football.

SECFootballBlogger.com recently posted a YouTube video of the top 5 SEC overtime games of all time. Here’s the list [which looks to be compiled by SECTV, not SECFootballBlogger]:

5. Tennessee vs. LSU 2005
4. Arkansas vs. Ole Miss 2001
3. Georgia vs. Auburn 1996
2. Arkansas vs. Kentucky 2003
1. LSU vs. Kentucky 2007

Which naturally got me wondering about the Bulldogs and overtime. In case you don’t know, the OT rule for the NCAA was implemented in 1996. A list of all NCAA OT games since has been compiled by Dr. Peter A. Rosen and is posted here.

Here are the games in which Mississippi State has been involved:

  • Nov. 23, 1996 – Starkville – MSU 13 – Arkansas 16
  • Oct. 21, 2000 – Baton Rouge – MSU 38 – LSU 45
    (I was at this game, quite the trip.)
  • Nov. 18, 2000 – Starkville – MSU 10 – Arkansas 17
  • Dec. 31, 2000 – Independence Bowl – MSU 43 – Texas A&M 41
    (The Snow Bowl!)
  • Sept. 23, 2006 – Birmingham – MSU 16 – UAB 10

2-3 in all OT games.
0-3 in SEC OT games.
1-3 in regular season OT games.
1- 0 in bowl OT games.

And that’s the history, over time.

On another note, Chris Low (SEC Football Blogger on ESPN.com) puts the Bulldogs at #9 in his SEC Power Rankings, he says:

The first four games are critical for the Bulldogs. They have to find a way to come out of those four at least 3-1. It remains to be seen if Mississippi State has enough offensive playmakers to match last season’s success.

I’d love to be more optimistic, but I think the Dawgs will go 2-2 during the opening four game stretch. Hopefully, Coach Croom’s team will take care of, but not underestimate, Louisiana Tech and Southeastern Louisiana in the first two games. Auburn will be a big test in game three, but at least it’s at home. The wildcard is the game at Georgia Tech on September 20th.

In the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll, the Bulldogs get six votes among the “others” (essentially ranking MSU 41st in the nation) while Georgia Tech receives two (ranked #50). Even though the matchup is in Atlanta, I suspect the Bulldog faithful will have a strong presence in the ATL. Combine that with general lack of support for the Yellow Jackets makes me revert from my prediction, feeling that 3-1 in the first four games in highly attainable.

GO DAWGS!!

Posted in arkansas razorbacks, auburn tigers, georgia tech, louisiana tech, lsu tigers, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, southeastern louisiana, starkville, sylvester croom | 1 Comment »