Rebel Fans and Marshall Henderson

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There has not been a more talked about figure in Mississippi and nationally the last few weeks than Ole Miss Shooting guard Marshall Henderson. He has been a lightning rod for controversy. All year long I have kept quiet on the Henderson talk but now I have to address it. It may surprise you that I will not direct this at Henderson but the Ole Miss fans rationalizing his actions. That is who I’m fed up with.

A few things I need to get out of the way before I get started. I really enjoyed watching Henderson on the court this year. Outside of MSU, I watched mostly Rebel basketball because of him. I commend Andy Kennedy for taking a gamble and bringing him in. He was the final piece they needed to get to the NCAA tournament. Also, I don’t believe there is another coach in America that could have kept Marshall focused enough to keep him on the floor all year. In a strange way I think Kennedy can relate to Marshall and has gotten more out of him than any other coach. In this post I will not slam Marshall or his behavior. If making bad decisions at 22 was an art, I’d be freaking Vincent Van Gogh. I could not pass judgment on him without being the biggest hypocrite in the world.

I am completely comfortable calling out all the Ole Miss fans that decide to make excuse after excuse for him of late. It’s ridiculous. I could go on forever with excuses but here are a few.

“I think a lot of the stuff he has done has been dramatized by the media” – Rebel Man

“I’ll be honest. I think a good bit of it is because he’s white and plays basketball” Rebel Man

“This whole Marshall Henderson discussion makes me wonder whether or not we hold athletes to an unreasonably high standard” @RedCupRebellion (I actually really like the cup)

To be fair, not all Ole Miss fans are out there staunchly defending his actions. Many are being very quiet as I would be.  The point is simple; no way reasonable adults should condone or makes excuses for his behavior. I’ll go back to myself as an example. A lot of my immature mistakes at 22 were not defendable by my parents. If they would have made a bunch or excuses or rationalizations they would have looked like morons. That doesn’t mean they had to stop loving me. Do you get it Rebel fans? You don’t have to stop loving Marshall but when you make excuses for him you look like morons.

Let’s draw another parallel. Nothing I hate more than social media around election time. It drives me nuts. One thing is that I get the political views, wanted or not, of all the folks I follow on twitter. All the Ole Miss fans I follow are about as conservative as it gets and that is to be expected in the South. Nothing wrong with that at all. I saw too many tweets from yall speaking on how sick you were of entitlements and how every person should accept some personal responsibility. Those were your morals. Now when it comes to athletics, those same morals don’t count because he plays for your school. Where did the personal responsibility go?

I also need to touch on that I completely understand taking up for your own but there is a limit. An example that I’m ok with was Jeremiah Masoli. When the Rebels gave him another chance many MSU fans took every opportunity to take shots at him. Rebel fans defended him and his character. I’m in agreement with this case because he came to Ole Miss and his plays coupled with his actions were that of a role model. He kept his nose clean and represented Ole Miss well. This isn’t the same thing.

From this point forward there is little doubt that everything Marshall does will be under a microscope. I hope he learns from his actions and matures. I will not stop watching him play and Ole Miss fans should not stop cheering for him when he drains a 3. What Rebel fans should stop doing is making excuse after excuse for his actions that don’t represent the university and himself in the best light.

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SEC Questions Answered

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As spring football kicks off across the SEC, questions begin to arise with every program. This is one of my favorite times of the year. As fans, we get to speculate which personnel losses are devastating and which guys are ready to step up. Not only do we have new players proving themselves, there are some new coaches trying to put their stamp on their new programs.

I do some pretty extensive online reading and I stumbled across a topic on SEC Rant that had a nice series of questions up for discussion. I thought it would be interesting to answer them all here.

1. How will LSU’s offense do next season? With all the talent returning and a new OC, it seems that they can do well, but you can never expect too much from a Les Miles offense.

I think we will see the best LSU offense we have seen since Jamarcus Russell. It begins and ends with the QB and Zach Mettenberger is that guy. In his first year of experience he showed flashes of elite QB play (Bama and MSU games). I think we see him take that next step in his development which will elevate LSU’s offense to the next level as well. An improved Mettenberger will make LSU the top contender to compete with Bama for the SEC West crown.

2. Will Johnny Manziel be as good next year? He seems to be partying a lot and not really giving a shit about football….

I think we will see a dip in Manziel’s numbers and partying has nothing to do with it. He lost 2 great offensive lineman but returns most of his weaponry. I think the biggest thing working against Manziel is that Sumlin’s offense is not brand new anymore. Every coordinator in the SEC took extra time this offseason to break it down. I think Manziel will get a bit better but the defenses he plays will make a bigger jump in how to defend him. I think Manziel still has a big year but not a playstation 3 like repeat of last season.

3. Will Alabama really win the West next year again? It seems to be popular belief that they will be the best next year, but that means 4 out of 5 national titles. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it happening. They barely got away in two games this year (Georiga, LSU) and lost to A&M. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not flaming Alabama, but it seems really hard to believe.

I don’t see anyway Bama cannot be the favorites. They took a hit on the o line but they will retool. McCarron still has his top 2 WR’s and TJ Yeldon behind him. Bama still has Nick Saban and Kirby Smart so there is no reason to think their defense won’t be great. The key for them is their 2nd game at Texas A&M. If they get that one, its as good as over. They get LSU at home later in the year. If Bama were to lose to A&M it would open the door for the Aggies and Tigahs but that doesn’t count out the Tide by any stretch.

4. Will Georgia be relevant next year? Georgia has a great team and a great QB returning next year, but Mark Richt has been known for underachieving teams. Besides that, all logical reasoning points to the fact that they will be good.

With Aaron Murray returning you have to think UGA will at least challenge for the east. The loss of Jarvis Jones is huge for the defense but it seems that Willie Martinez has them bought into his scheme and I expect them to be a top 6 SEC defense. The biggest 2 things working against UGA this year are: (1) Mark Right teams have never had the “killer instinct”. They always seem to not quite be able to get it done on the big stage. (2) South Carolina is the biggest thorn in UGA’s side this year. Clowney and Shaw seem poised to lead USC to the SEC title game.

5. Which team will surprise? I actually think Tennessee with their new head coach and good recruiting class so far. They have some great players, and with the proper leadership, I think they can go far.

Tennessee should be improved but they aren’t my pick. I think we see the biggest turn around in Auburn. We saw what happened when Malzahn was there and when he left. I think he pushed Auburn to success in spite of the moron formerly known as Gene Chizick. People forget that Auburn recruits in the top 10 every year and has a roster as talented as anyone. The has just quit on Chizick last year. This year we will see renewed spirit and see a much better team that will upset 1 of the big dogs.

6. Who is going to be the non-SEC media darlings this year? Last year it was Notre Dame, but then that train went off the rails real quickly.

I think Notre Dame will get way too much hype again. With USC falling the way they have I don’t think they are in the discussion any longer. Mark this down guys. It will be Ohio State and the story line will be that Urban Meyer is the one who knows how to beat the SEC since he won NC at Florida. Prepare yourselves because its coming.

7. Will Ole Miss build on their success? I dont really think so. Not this year at least. They just dont have the talent, and now everybody is going to prepare hard for them since Hugh Freeze has proven himself. Just my thoughts.

Ole Miss has another brutal schedule and despite returning dang near everyone, they still are a very young team. The biggest problems I think Ole Miss faces is their road vs home schedule. Getting Bama and LSU at home leaves a brutal road slate. I don’t think they will upset either of those 2 at home. Throw in that Arkansas and Auburn will be different teams and the Egg Bowl in Starkville and this year is much tougher than last year. I think if Ole Miss duplicates what it did last year it would be a great success but I don’t see the next step happening.

8. Is Bret Bielema a good coach? He certainly was pretty successful at Wisconsin, but the SEC is MUCH MUCH more competitive than the Big Ten.

I think he’s a good but not great coach. He’s going to have to make his bones in the SEC recruiting. He has stepped into a whole new world and if he is going to have consistent success, he’s going to have to do a better job then he did at Wisconsin. That said, I think you see an immediate improvement in Arkansas. The motorcycle wreck wreck left the team stunned and John L was trying to hold it together to no avail. That was a dead, beaten team before they stepped on the field. I’m curious how the offense will fare without Tyler Wilson but I have full faith that the defense will be much improved. I expect a much better Arkansas team this year.

MSU Pre-Spring Roster and Thoughts

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Yesterday MSU released its  Pre-Spring 2  deep depth chart and many eyebrows were raised across the state as fans immediately started breaking it down. Before I go any further, Dan Mullen was quoted as saying something along the lines of this depth chart not meaning anything. While that is correct, I still believe that it gives us a good idea of who we will see get reps next year and also who had a good offseason and gave themselves a shot at getting on the field more.

Let’s look at some of what I thought were surprises:

-Justin Senior (soph) appeared on the depth chart as the 2nd team LT. I have been wondering who was going to claim that spot because many have been given a chance at T. Good to see a clear backup for Blaine Clausell.

-Josh Robinson (soph) has the 2nd spot at RB. He is also listed at 5’9 225, which means he has gotten bigger. 2nd RB will be hotly contested this spring and even more so in the fall when Nick Griffin returns.  Do not count out Derrick Milton.

-Jeremy Chappelle (jr) starts of pre spring as a 2nd team WR backing up Robert Johnson. Many believe he has a chance to unseat Joe Morrow as the 2nd starter. We will have to see.

-Fred Brown (rFr) started as a 2nd team WR. That might not mean much to many but it is a shock to me. He came from a running offense in high school and had a lot to learn. I’m shocked sr Ricco Sanders is not backing up Morrow.

-Winston Chapman (soph) is our starting snapper right now. The reason I include him is because I’ve never heard of him and that’s a more important spot then a lot of fans realize. It’s only a big deal when he sails one over the punters head.

-Ryan Brown (soph) and AJ Jefferson (rFr) grabbed the backup DE spots. Brown saw action last year but Jefferson getting the other speaks to the offseason he had. Torrey Dale (rFr) is a guy a lot of fans are excited about but he couldn’t crack the initial top 2. Competition will be intense here, especially with Chris Jones on the way.

-Justin Cox (jr) getting a starting spot at CB from the get-go is somewhat a surprise. I thought he’d end up with it but start off with the 2’s.

-Kaleb Eulls (jr) got the starting nod at DT. I have to preface what I’m about to say with the fact that he is a great kid and great ambassador for MSU. In 26 career games as the starting DE he had 1 sack and 4 TFL. If he’s going to start at DT his production needs to spike dramatically. Great kid by all accounts but his numbers at DE will not cut it in the SEC.

-No Quay Evans (soph) in the 2 deep has many fans scratching their heads. Arguably our most talented DT and not in the early rotation. If he works hard this spring I can see that changing. I think it’s on him. He’s a potential future early NFL draft pick so he should be motivated to go all out.

-No Richie or Beni Brown (both rFr) is the LB 2 deep. It’s not a shock to me when you see how veteran the group is. Our top 5 guys have gotten extensive game reps and Zach Jackson has been in the program a year before them. I wouldn’t worry. They’ll probably play all special teams and push hard for reps.

 

Mullen Opens Spring Practice Again

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MSU announces that the spring practices are open to the public again this year. For all of the football related things that Dan Mullen closes to the public, I love that he gives the public a look in the spring. I went to 6 practices last year and it really gives you an inside look at the players progression, the coaches and their styles, and how the players and coaches communicate on the field.

There are so many things to watch this year many are glad the spring remains open. The position battles should be intense. There are 2 juco transfers (Jeremy Chappelle and Justin Cox) that are being counted on to compete immediately. We get to see how David Turner differs from Chris Wilson and the way the defensive linemen react to him. Billy Gonzalez takes over the WR position and the group lost 5 seniors leaving competition wide open. I could go on but you get the point; there is no shortage of story lines.

These practices are open for a reason. It’s 100% for the fans. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this privilege and go support the players and coaches.

Per MSU Media Relations
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Head football coach Dan Mullen and his charges will begin on-field preparation for the 2013 football season as spring practice begins on Thursday, March 21. The 15 practice sessions, which are all open to the public, will conclude with the annual Maroon-White Spring Game on April 20 as part of Super Bulldog Weekend.
The Bulldogs begin the 2013 campaign in the Texas Kickoff Classic on Aug. 31 against Oklahoma State.
SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULED DATES
**All times tentative, and dates may be changed due to weather. Follow @MStateFB on Twitter for the most up-to-date information.
Thursday, March 21 – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 – 12 noon
Tuesday, March 26 – 4 p.m.
Thursday, March 28 – 4 p.m.
Friday, March 29 – 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 2 – 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 4 – 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 6 – Scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium – 12 noon
Tuesday, April 9 – 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 11 – 4 p.m.
Friday, April 12 – Scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium – 3 p.m.
Tuesday, April 16 – 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 18 – 4 p.m.
Friday, April 19 – 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 20 – Maroon/White Spring Game – Davis Wade Stadium – 1 p.m.

MSU Football: Who Gets the Franchise Tag?

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If the world of college football was like the NFL and you could undoubtedly keep 1 guy on your team for next year who would it be? The franchise tag “is a designation a team may apply to a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.” This move is usually made because the player is of high demand or he has the highest value to your team. This topic was discussed on Bulldawgs247 by Paul Jones. I thought it was an intriguing one that warrants some thought. What route do you take?

Let’s take a look at some viable candidates for the franchise tag if you were the GM of MSU football. After the discussion I will tell you who my pick would be and it may surprise you.

QB Tyler Russell- The senior put up some good numbers in ’12 (2,897 yards, 58.6 completion %, and 24 TD). A team’s success usually goes hand in hand with the success of your general. Tyler’s value to the team is immeasurable. During the 7-0 start, he was fantastic. There is no doubt that if MSU is to take the next step to higher level bowls, Russell will have to get us there. He would be a serious contender for the franchise tag.

RB LaDarius Perkins- The do-it-all animal for MSU. Perkins racked up 1,024 yards and 8 TD’s on the ground last year. He also piled on over 1,500 total yards. One of our most explosive guys returning on offense that can take it to the house at any time. Perkins is very valuable in the running, passing, and return games making him a very viable pick for the franchise tag.

LB Benardrick Mckinney- The rising sophomore put his stamp on a stellar freshman year with 102 tackles and 4.5 TFL on his way to Freshman All-American honors. At 6’5 235 he is the centerpiece of MSU’s defense for the next 3 years. He’s got the NFL size and speed and is primed for another huge year with experience under his belt. The sky is the limit for McKinney. His ceiling is sky high and that alone makes him a major player in the franchise tag conversation.

CB Justin Cox- Before anyone second guesses this one you have to think for 1 second. MSU is replacing 2 guys that will go in the top 3 rounds of the NFL draft in Jonathon Banks and Darius Slay. There is not a more important position of need than CB. Cox is a highly decorated Juco star that was the biggest get last recruiting cycle for next year. MSU fans are hoping his elite talent will transition the secondary seamlessly. His talent plus the need at corner make him a contender for the tag.

OG Gabe Jackson- Rising senior Gabe Jackson passed over the NFL draft to return to MSU for his last season. The 6’4 320 lb mauler is rated as the 2nd best college guard for next year’s draft. Jackson is in a position where he could work himself into the 1rst round of the NFL draft next year. He’s the most talented guy on the team right now. Offensive line is crucial and your best guy up front is your bell cow. It would be hard to pass him up for the tag.

OT Blaine Clausell- Junior to be Blaine Clausell plays the most important position on the field with a pro-style right-handed quarterback, left tackle. Clausell was forced into action as a freshman due to injuries and he took his lumps. 2012 we saw a much improved Clausell. At 6’7 305 and really good on his feet, Clausell has the tools to be a really good LT in the SEC and possibly the NFL if he can continue to improve the next 2 years he is on campus. A bookend LT is a prime candidate for a franchise tag.

 

Now let’s get to the fun part, my pick. If I was the GM of MSU Football, I would put the franchise tag on Blaine Clausell. Let me explain. There are more talented guys on our team right now. There are guys primed for post season honors. There is not a single player on our team more crucial to next year’s success than Clausell. Tyler Rusell is a great QB but I have faith that Dak Prescott could step up if needed. Ladarius Perkins is a great player but I have full faith in Derrick Milton and Josh Robinson picking up the slack if they are called upon. As bad as we need Justin Cox to step up, he has to go out there and prove himself. Gabe Jackson is a mauler but we have other interior linemen that are serviceable. There is no one behind Blaine Clausell that I have faith to do the job that I think he will do next year.

Many fans were tough on Blaine after his freshman year. Freshman LT’s usually don’t fair that well in the SEC. Last year we saw a big jump. I think we can expect another jump this year where he puts himself in the top half to top third of the SEC’s LT position. We all remember the year he was thrown into the fire and what injuries did to that position and to that season. That is why I say he is the most important players on our team right now and deserves the franchise tag.

Spring Practice Position Battle Watch

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MSU opens spring practice just around the corner and many fans like myself are already jonesin for some football. Every team has position battles that rage on in the spring and MSU is no different. Ever since the arrival of Dan Mullen, he has preached competition as a vital means for the team to improve. Some positions have a battle for the starting nod while others have players fighting for reps. Lets look at some positions to keep our eye on this spring.

QB- Nothing really to see here with Dak’s injury keeping him out. All Tyler Russell and his improvement.

RB- You have to believe that LaDarius Perkins has the starting spot nailed down. That still leaves an intense battle for carries between sophomores Derrick Milton and Josh Robinson (we won’t see Nick Griffin due to injury). Although Robinson seems to be the fan favorite, anyone who has attended practices will tell you that Milton is the most natural runner of the bunch. The competition for #2 back will be heated.

WR- After graduating 5 seniors this position is up for grabs. Robert Johnson and Joe Morrow will get their 1rst shot at starting positions. Also watch for juco early enrollee Jeremy Chappelle to challenge for starter. Jameon Lewis will get his chance to nail down the slot but we get to see if redshirt freshman Brandon Holloway can push him. Senior Ricco Sanders could be a wild card and redshirt freshman Fred Brown gets his first look. I know I’ll keep an eye on Micheal Carr since he has rejoined the team.

TE- I think Malcolm Johnson solidifies his spot with Brandon Hill cementing his #2 TE spot. Rufus Warren and Gus Walley will battle for what’s left. Don’t forget Christian Holmes made a switch to TE. Curious to see him on offense.

OL- I believe we are pretty set with Blaine Clausell, Justin Malone, Dillion Day, Gabe Jackson, and Charles Siddoway across the front. The battle here is for who comes off the bench. The guys I’m really watching to see progression are sophomore Devon Desper at center, junior Ben Beckwith at guard, and junior Archie Muniz at tackle. Damien Robinson has always been on the fringe and I’m really excited at getting a good look at sophomore tackle Justin Senior.

DE- Gotta believe senior Denico Autry and junior Preston Smith gut out the starting spots. The battle behind them will be intense between sophomore Ryan Brown & sophomore John Harris. We also get our first looks at redshirt freshman AJ Jefferson and Torrey Dale. A lot of talent and competition here.

DT- After the graduation of Josh Boyd and Dewayne Cherrington, these spots are wide open. Factor in new coach David Turner as well. It will be all out war between sophomores Quay Evans and Nick James and juniors PJ Jones, Curtis Virges, and Kaleb Eulls. Also get our first look at redshirt freshman Jordan Washington.

LB- Return some experience here in Deonte Skinner, Benardrick McKinney, and Matt Wells. Senior Chris Hughes and junior Ferlando Bohanna will make a big push with their physicality. Many fans are very excited with redshirt freshmen Richie and Beniquez Brown. A sizeable portion of the fan-base think Richie can press for a starting spot.

CB- All eyes will be on juco early enrollee Justin Cox, expecting him to cement 1 of the CB spots as expected. The battle for the other spot will be intense between junior Jamerson Love and redshirt freshman Cedric Jiles. Sophomore Taveze Calhoun has shown well and many are hoping redshirt freshman Will Redmond makes a big jump. They very well could be battling for reps in the DB heavy packages.

S- Senior Nickoe Whitley will be 1 starter but his continued recovery will be watched closely. I expect junior Jay Hughes to grab the other spot. Junior Dee Arrington will challenge Jay Hughes to the limit for the other spot. Many are hoping sophomores Kendrick Market and Deonte Evans make a jump and push for time. We also get our first real look at redshirt freshman “Hitman” Quadry Antoine.