Bulldog Maroon & White

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Posts Tagged ‘wesley carroll’

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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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 »

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 »

Chris Low Down and the Mississippi State Bulldogs

Posted by Kyle Weidie on August 18, 2008

Chris Low, who writes ESPN.com’s SEC Blog, has been making his way around the South writing a series of features for conference member schools in anticipation of the upcoming football season.

On such feature was on DE Tim Bailey, who served an 18-month assignment with the National Guard, spending a year in Iraq, before suiting up for the Bulldogs. Hopefully Bailey’s perspective on life will rub off on his teammates.

“It was pretty rough over there,” Bailey said. “When you have bad days over here, they really don’t seem so bad.”

Bailey may be apart of an upcoming $450 million National Guard advertising campaign, the Clarion-Ledger has a piece on his photo shoot experience.

Running back Anthony Dixon left some things on the field last year, don’t expect the case to be the same this time around.

“Sometimes, I’m just out there running. I’m getting the ball and seeing the defense and looking to get bad angles or just run over people. This year, I’m reading the gaps better. It’s like Coach Croom said. I did leave some yards on the field last year by not reading the gap and seeing wide-open holes. I made 4 and 5 yards when I could have gotten 10 or 15.”

Of course, everyone knows that quarterback Wesley Carroll will be the key to potential success for the Bulldogs.

“One of the things we have to be careful about as he grows more confident is still not being a gambler,” Croom said. “We want him to get better with his throwing but also understand, as Clint Eastwood would say, that a man’s got to know his limitations.

Low also kicks it with Bulldog Coach Sylvester Croom with a two-part discussion, click the links below to check them out.

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