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Crazy Texas Tech Upset: How An 8-Team Playoff System Would Look

Posted by Kyle Weidie on November 2, 2008

Unbelievable….Texas Tech fans stormed the field twice after the winning touchdown? Absolute craziness……officials were even taking the goal posts down (preemptively) before the game was “officially” over. After two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, Texas Tech kicking from 7.5 yard line still should have made Bobby Knight ready to choke someone.

After the game was decided, all those fans rushing the field was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen on a football field. I still can’t believe there hasn’t been a serious injury, or even death, from teammates, fans, etc. piling on a guy after an extreme outcome….at least there hasn’t been an instance documented. Such a weird thing to do….here’s to the hope that at least in basketball, kids who hit game winning shots grow up learning to run straight to the locker room.

All that being said,  with the “official” BCS ratings coming out soon, here’s how I would set an 8-team playoff system for college football:

1. Alabama
8. Utah

2. Oklahoma
7. Oklahoma State

3. Penn. State
4. USC

5. Texas Tech
6. Florida

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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.

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

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 »

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

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 »

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 »

Do The Mississippi State Bulldogs Stand A Chance Against The Auburn Tigers?

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 11, 2008

First, as we all remember September 11th, 2001 in our own way, including where we were on that tragic day, we should all realize how much our country has changed since, and be thankful for the good that we have in our lives.

Back in ’01, I was still a student at Mississippi State (since graduated in May of ’03). Routinely, I would have the news on in the morning while getting ready for class. That day, the television remained off as I was running late in getting ready for my Market Research class (still was on time though).

As I sat down at my desk, rumors flying around the room about a terrorist attack and the targets which had been hit, especially in Washington, DC, were, as I later came to find out, grossly exaggerated. Being from DC, where friends and family resided, panic immediately set it. I raced home after the teacher excused us, and after multiple attempts with congested lines of communication, I was finally able to confirm that my loved ones were okay.

Sporting events across the nation were postponed, but sports were also part of the recovery process. Mississippi State essentially played in the first major football game post 9/11, a Thursday ESPN matchup versus South Carolina on September 20th. The Bulldogs would go on to lose to the Gamecocks 16-14, but their valiant efforts on the field were part of Americans coming together as a nation to get through adversity.

Now, to this week’s game: do the Mississippi State Bulldogs stand a chance against Auburn?

Coming off last year’s sweep of the state of Alabama, the Tigers will be looking for a bit of revenge. ESPN.com’s Chris Low is predicting a grind-it-out affair, but choses the Tigers to prevail, 21-16.

Danny Sheridan of USAToday.com has Auburn giving State 10 points.

The Mississippi State Sports Blog gives a 17-14 nod to the Bulldogs.

Sylvester Croom will try to avoid Robert Dunn like Devin Hester.

I understand that Tommy Tuberville asserts that this is a different Mississippi State program, and I’d have to agree. We’re observing a team of accountable men under Sylvester Croom, opposed to the team of talented boys under Jackie Sherrill.

However, the loss to Louisiana Tech was a severe blow to my confidence in this year’s team. Not to say that my hope for a winning season and a bowl game is lost, but I had desires that the Bulldogs were done losing to the likes of the Tulanes, Houstons, UABs, and gasp, Maines of the world. Hopes too high? Probably so.

With injuries and an inconsistent, sputtering offense to overcome, I can’t see the Bulldogs beating Auburn this week. Later in the season, when the team has had a chance to gel, maybe so.

I’ll be rooting against my forthcoming prediction while glued to the TV this Saturday. But calling it in print right now, I’ll have to go with Auburn 23 – Mississippi State 9.

Posted in auburn tigers, espn, mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports, sylvester croom | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MSU Bulldog Victory Roundup: Southeastern Louisiana

Posted by Kyle Weidie on September 8, 2008

The Mississippi State Bulldogs performed slight reconciliation for their season opening loss to Louisiana Tech in beating Southeastern Louisiana 34-10 this past Saturday. The Harmon Forecast on CBS Sportsline came very close to an accurate prediction calling for a 34-6 Bulldog victory over SELA. The keys to the game were simple: the defense should dominate and the offense needed to build rhythm – mission accomplished. No, Southeastern Louisiana certainly was not a test, but heading into next week’s game against Auburn, the Bulldogs needed to show early season growth, and they did. Here’s the internet roundup:

After a sluggish start that saw State fall behind 3-0, the Bulldogs did exactly what you would expect a Southeastern Conference team to do to one from the Football Championship Subdivision (formally Division I-AA), striking for 34 unanswered points to turn the game into a rout by early in the third quarter.
“Mississippi State routs SELA, 34-10,” clarionledger.com – Rusty Hampton.

Quarterback Wesley Carroll, who did not split snaps with backup Tyson Lee in practice last week, looked much sharper than he did in the season opener, when Louisiana Tech intercepted him three times.
“BULLDOGS:QB Carroll looks sharp as ‘Dogs rediscover bite,” djournal.com – Brad Locke.

In a spare moment inside Mississippi State’s locker room late Saturday night, coach Sylvester Croom had words for his receiver Brandon McRae, who caught eight passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in MSU’s 34-10 win over Southeastern Louisiana. They weren’t attaboys, though. “You’ve got to expect yourself to make every catch,” Croom said he told McRae. “He has the potential to be an outstanding receiver.”
“McRae reaps benefit of adding maturity to talent,” clarionledger.com – Kyle Veazey.

“We did some good things tonight. I thought offensively we did some things we wanted to do. We had certain guys it was obvious they played well; Brandon McRae still making some plays, I thought Anthony Dixon ran hard, Christian Ducre definitely picked up his game tonight. I’ll look at the film to see how the offensive line blocked……….The thing that really concerns me now about the offense is we had fumbles in the first two games. And a couple of penalties. That still bothers me because that has not been characteristic. All I know is we’ll keep working hard because going into conference play you can’t give the other team opportunities.”
Sylvester Croom Post-Game Quotes via David Murray of Dawgs Bite.

Game Recap: ESPN.com

Game Photographs – Clarion-Ledger

Posted in mississippi state bulldogs, ncaa football, sec football, SEC Sports, southeastern louisiana, starkville, sylvester croom | Leave a Comment »

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.

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