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.
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.