MSU Baseball Heating Up

20130415-075543.jpg

A 15 run game 3 offensive explosion led MSU to its first SEC sweep of the year at Texas A&M and second straight series victory. The fact that this sweep came on the road makes it even sweeter. MSU’s offense seems to be coming to life led by a huge weekend for Hunter Renfroe where he got his season HR number to 13, which is tied for the SEC lead with Mason Katz (LSU). Not only did our bats come alive but the pitching was stellar as well. MSU only used 5 different pitchers the whole weekend including a complete game effort by Kendall Graveman on Saturday.

I admit that I’m not a baseball genius and I leave the game breakdowns to guys like Todd4State. I do like to look at stats and where we sit as those things give great insight to our season and where are headed.

First off, the SEC West standings:
LSU 13-2,
Arky 9-6
MSU 8-7
Bama 8-7
Om 7-8
A&M 7-8
Aub 5-10

Just looking at that quickly you have to be ok with where State is sitting. If we finfish like we are capable of I think 2nd is our spot and very well could get us the coveted regional host. LSU is on fire and looks almost invincible with their overall record of 34-3. Makes the fact that we outplayed them and lost the series tough, but encouraging at the same time. MSU has a chance to continue the momentum going forward with a series against Auburn on deck for Super Bulldog Weekend. Auburn is struggling right now and another sweep would be huge for the Dawgs.

“Mississippi State’s baseball team is 30-9, the program’s best record through 39 games since 1999.” Mike Nemeth (via twitter @MikeNemeth)

If you want to look ahead, we have a tough trip to Vandy after Auburn. Getting 1 in Nashville is almost a must and if we could figure out how to get that series, my wool growth will be thick. After Vandy we close out with 3 winnable series: Bama, at Ole Miss, and ending with South Carolina at home. There are 2 non-conference games sandwiched in there against Memphis on the 23rd and Oral Roberts on May 14th. The discussion becomes what record is required for us to host? I’m hoping for 11 more conference wins which would get us to 19-11. I’ve read others suggest that 18-12 would do the job as well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Another thing that is a solid indicator of what type of season you are having is your team statistics and where you stack up in the league. These numbers are courtesy of Coach34 at EliteDawgs.com . I could have researched this myself but copy and paste was too easy.

Hitting:

Average- 3rd in the SEC
On-base percentage- 3rd in the SEC
Slugging- 4th in the SEC
Runs scored- 3rd in the SEC
RBI’s- 3rd in the SEC
Doubles- 4th in the SEC
HR’s – 3rd in the SEC
Walks-3rd in the SEC
Stolen bases- 4th in the SEC

Pitching:

ERA- 2nd in the SEC
Opp BA- 3rd in the SEC
Strike Outs- Leads SEC
Strike out Looking- Leads SEC
Saves- 2nd in the SEC
fewest Sac bunts allowed- tied for 2nd in the SEC
fewest Sac flies Allowed- tied for SEC lead
fewest hits allowed- 3rd in the SEC

All in all I don’t think anyone can complain about where MSU baseball is right now and the direction we are headed. At the beginning of the year the goal was to host a regional and that is very possible right now. The guys seem to be hitting their stride at just the right time. It will be fun to watch this play out.

Baseball related and worth 5 seconds of your time. Best foul ball catch EVER http://thechive.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/232323.gif

Advertisements

Spring Scrimmage Notes (4/12)

Here’s my notes from scrimmage yesterday. Had a very busy day so sorry about just getting this out. It was a beautiful day at DWS for some football. The main guys who didn’t participate because of injuries I noticed were Ladarius Perkins, Josh Robinson, and Zach Jackson. Quay Evans also was limited and I’m assuming its due to still being banged up.

-nice 15 yard catch by Rojo

-Nice no gain stop by McKinney. Met Milton in the hole

-Chris jones is huge!

-3 yard TD catch off play action for Christian Holmes

-13 yard run by Holloway on speed sweep

-Big physical hit by Chris Hughes, he then rips the ball loose and takes it away. He plays angry

-TFL for Wells on blitz. Got in back field quick

-Milton spins through the line for a nice 7 yard run

-Beni Brown in on 3 straight tackles. Being very active

-running inside been tough for both teams early in scrimmage

-long TD on WR screen by Jeremy Chappelle

-Redmond hearing it from Townsend after that play on the sideline

-tough 10 yard run by Milton

-Nice 20 yard grab over the middle by Malcolm Johnson

-Preston Smith is victimizing Clausell

-40 yard TD catch by Rojo. Great separation. Wide open

-Akins looks good for a walkon RB. Getting more reps due to injuries

-10 yard over the middle grab by Malcolm Johnson. Turning into the norm

-Wells blitzes off edge, sees draw and drops back in the hole to help McKinney on a no gainer stop. Really nice play by Wells

-Great break on the ball by Beni Brown, drops pick 6

-2nd team OL doing a much better job blocking 2nd team DL than the 1rst is w/the 1rst DL

-Holloway doesn’t shy from contact at RB. He isn’t scared

-Chris Hughes w/another really good play. PBU on a bubble screen. Flew over and blew it up

-87 fumbles a rec fighting for more yards. 8 picked it up but didnt have enough gas to score

-Long reception by Michael Carr. Broke some tackles

-nice grab by Carr on ball behind him. Good adjustment

-Holloway really can fly. Gettin a lot of carries

-Another TD reception by Christian Holmes. Dependable Hands. At the goal line they motion him back and forth like an Hback/fb

-1rst group KO return was Rojo and Redmond

-2nd group was Holloway and Cox

-Nice stop on a WR screen to Malcolm Johnson by Cedric Jiles. Came up and made the play

-Milton running tough, just not much room

-Rojo w/a reception on a 12 yard curl route

-2 bad drops for Fred Brown. 2nd one was a TD

-Beni Brown doesn’t drop the pick 6 this time

-Virges playing well. Really hustling and chasing the ball

-the D is audibling back the offense. Got caught showing an edge blitz from 1 side. Offense audibles. D then corner blitzes from other side. Pretty cool stuff

-Nick James has best defense celebrations hands down

-Jameon Lewis fumbles after catch. Couldn’t tell who caused it. Defense recovers. 1rst I’ve seen Jameon put it on the ground

-Richie does really well at getting to the ball even when the play goes a long way from him

-Just noticed Zack Jackson not dressed out

-Yet another big hit by Chris Hughes on pass coverage.

-Another 15 yard catch for Rojo. He and Tyler on the same page

-Tlyer just throws it up in the back of the end zone and Joe Morrow went and got it. Nice to see that

-Seeing some twisting and stunting by the DTs. That’s encouraging

-Nick James and Deandre Ward (walkon) stuff a run play for TFL

-Nice open field tackle after a reception by Justin Cox

-Really nice TFL by PJ Jones on an off tackle play. He came from backside and made the play

-Malcolm went up and got a high pass by Tuler for 25 yarder.

-Great TD on a corner route by Morrow. Really tight coverage but he went up and made the play

-Wells hems Holloway up for a no gainer on running play

-20 yards over the middle for Malcolm again

-Holloway bounced one outside and gets 12 yards

-Torrey Dale runs to the sideline to make the stop on Holloway

-Nice break on the ball by Richie Brown on a PBU. Richie is really good in pass coverage

-Devon Bell nails a 45 yarder that woulda been good from 55+

-Jameon Lewis w/a good grab but been kept under wraps for the most part today

-15 yard run for Multon right up the gut

-20 yard reception for Malcolm near sideline. Tyler rolled toward him

-Beckwith getting C reps

-Jameon Lewis with a 10 yard rec in traffic

-2 straight nice runs for Holloway for about 10 a piece

-Nick James getting after the QB. Gotta look scary seeing him run at you

On offense there were a few things that you just had to notice. Rojo and Malcolm Johnson had very good days. Those guys are big physical receivers who can make tough grabs and keep the chains moving. The other thing I saw was Joe Morrow. He made 2 big-time grabs in the back of the end zone that only a 6’4 athlete can make. It was very encouraging to see because our offense has lacked that dynamic. We don’t need the world from Morrow next year but if he can be that guy we saw today, we are golden. Also, Holloway at RB looks way more natural than I thought. At first I thought it may be an experiment but I’m doubting that now. Holloway runs hard and doesn’t shy from contact. He runs like a RB and not like a small WR trying to play RB if that makes sense. He may be earning a few touches a game back there. In the goal line, I really like our use of Christian Holmes. He has good hands and is a good blocker so it makes perfect sense.

On defense we saw some more guys step up. I’m not saying Chris Hughes is going to unseat a current starter but he’s making it impossible on the coaches to not play a lot. He plays extremely physical. He doesn’t try to just get the runner down, he tries to punish them. Really like how he plays. PJ Jones looks like our best DT. He’s really stepping it up out there. Saw him on multiple plays turn and run horizontally and get in on the stop outside of the tackle box. Beni Brown had his best showing. Made a bunch of tackles and got the pick 6 too. Physically, he doesn’t look or play like a freshman. Preston Smith is just gone to a new level with his play. If Tyler was able to be hit, he may have had 10 sacks yesterday. Last person I want to mention is Nick James. It really looks like he has turned it up also. Playing very hard and hustling his butt off. It looks like he LOVES playing football. A quick example is the whole DL got in trouble with Turner after a series and had to do 10 up downs. Nick James did 10 up downs the fastest and seemingly effortlessly for such a huge guy. He finished at least 4 reps before everyone else (who did them as if they were about to die) and cracked a sly smile and walked off. James acted like the up downs were easy, fun and didn’t care anything about it while the rest trudged through them.

Follow me on twitter @BeastManSteve

MSU Spring Practice Report (4/9)

I start off with my notes taken during drills, 7 on 7’s, and then scrimmage. Some thoughts at the end.

-Milton got all 1rst team reps due to injuries

-Holloway got RB reps in drills and scrimmage

-Rufus Warren looking good in receiving drills. Smooth routes and good hands

-Milton looked better in pass blocking drills

-Wells is again looking good in pass rushing drills. Just too fast

-Hughes is really coming on in drills. Getting 1rst team reps here and there

-Holmes struggling with pass blocking drills

-Pass blocking is not Malcolm Johnson’s forte

-Dak doing some standing w/out crutches but still throwing from seated stool

-nice pbu by Jameson Love in 7 on 7

-Carr showing good hands in 7 on 7

-nice move shaking the defender and making catch in 1 on 1’s by Fred Brown. Move put the defender on the ground

-WR’s have the drops today

-Nice long TD grab by Holloway

-Holloway w/another nice grab. Really fast

-Malcolm making good grabs and nice routes in 1 on 1

-int by Redmond in 7 on 7

-Morrow makes a decent grab in traffic across the middle

-great leaping grab by Christian Holmes on sideline. Catch of the day

-long TD grab by Rojo

-long TD catch by Malcolm Johnson

-nice grab in traffic across the middle by Holloway. Doesn’t look worried going across the middle

-another long TD for Holloway

-int by Quadry Antoine

-1rst play of scrimmage, rollout and grab by Fred Brown on sideline. Really good catch

-good inside run by Milton. Slashes through the line

-Nick James blew up a running play

-Ryan Brown got some first team reps at DE

-Holloway breaks a long run from RB

-Ricco gets a nice 20 yard grab. Looks better today

-John Harris makes nice tackle on run play for short gainer. He’s looked better today

-Cam Lawrence at practice, hand in cast.

-Holloway w/another good inside run for 20 yards. He darts through the line

-Jameon catches bubble screen. Seeing more of those.

-Brandon Hill with a nice grab but immediately met physically by Bohanna

-really good long run by Milton

-great break by Wells but drops the int

-Eulls looks better at DT

-Jameon again getting a lot of targets

-Ryan Brown w/TFL on off tackle run

-Running game has been much better today w/only Milton, Akins, and Holloway

-Even when dbl teamed, Nick James still gets some push

-Seeing a lot of R Brown and P Smith as first team DE’s

-Jameon Lewis routinely turns 5 yard catches into more yards. Slippery

-20 yard run by Milton

-TR more under C than I’ve seen thus far

-fumbled an exchange on the reverse. We still don’t run trick plays well

-40 yard grab by Jameon Lewis

-Benardrick McKinney stuffs an inside run for no gain

-Nice pbu by Deonte Evans. He’s looked good at safety

-nice hit by Deonte Evans on next play for pbu

-bad drop by Morrow on sideline

-Nice 20 yard catch by Rojo

-int by Jameson Love

-PBU by Nickoe Whitley by way of hit

-Jiles makes a nice PBU by knocking a high pass out of the WR hands

-long TD catch by Jameon Lewis
-Morrow out-muscles Cox for a contended catch and turns into a long gainer

– long TD catch on a post by Fred Brown

-good hands on pbu by Dee Arrington

-bad drop by Rufus Warren on a good throw from Josh Hand

After seeing another practice, there are a few things that are beginning to become the norm. Jameon Lewis has had the best spring of anyone in my opinion. I fully expect him to be a playmaker next year. Fred Brown continues to impress every day. He runs really good routes, has really good hands, and is getting a lot of targets. Brandon Holloway is performing better than I expected. He really surprised me at running back. He darts through the line and he appears to be hard for the defense to see. At WR, he uses his speed nicely on routes to get separation.

On the defense there is also some guys putting together good springs. Ryan Brown jumps out at you and has pushed for 1rst team reps. Kaleb Eulls looks much better at DT than DE in my eyes. He can better use his athleticism on the inside. Nick James has had a nice spring and looks to earn plenty of reps this fall. Everyone wants to know how the Brown’s look at LB and while they look good, it appears that they have lit a fire under Bohanna and Hughes. They are both having very good springs and look like they will not allow freshmen to steal their reps. The biggest advantage Bohanna and Hughes have over the Brown’s is physicality. They play angry.

The secondary is just another animal all together. This will sound homerish but they all stand out. At CB there is a stuff 4-way competition between Justin Cox, Will Redmond, Jameson Love, and Cedric Jiles. There isn’t much, if any, separation between the 4. In all honesty, I feel comfortable with any combination of the 4. The one thing I can guarantee you is that the starters will deserve it. No winners by default. At S the only incumbent is Nickoe Whitley and he looks much better and fully healed. Then you have Jay Hughes, Dee Arrington, and Deonte Evans battling it out for the other reps. Kendrick Market is right there as well. In all, there is better depth and competition in the secondary than I can remember in my lifetime.

MSU 2013 Defensive Roster: Position by Position Upgrade or Downgrade?

Today I’ll do the same as yesterday and go through the defense and give each position a grade in relation to last year. At each position, are we upgrading, downgrading, or staying the same? Again, I’m doing some assuming on who the starters may be.

DE Denico Autry (UPGRADE)- Last year as a Juco transfer Denico had to adjust to the speed of the SEC. It definitely took some time but he played his best ball at the end of the year finishing with 4 sacks. This year he will significantly improve those numbers.

DE Preston Smith (UPGRADE)– This is the biggest personnel upgrade on the entire team. Eulls was the starter and got the bulk of the reps and had 0 sacks last year. In limited opportunities, Preston led the team with 4.5 sacks. Looking for a big production increase here.

DT PJ Jones (SAME)- For the sake of argument, I’m putting PJ against Josh Boyd’s DT spot from last year. I think PJ has a really solid year and we see no drop off from Boyd (an NFL draftee) to Jones.

DT Kaleb Eulls (SAME)- For the sake of argument, I’m matching Kaleb against Dewayne Cherrington’s spot from last year. I’m sure many will disagree but their stats are almost identical last year. Eulls had 28 tackles, Cherry had 24, and both had 1 TFL. I think Kaleb has the much higher ceiling but its time for him to produce on the field.

LB Deonte Skinner (SAME)- The reason I say “same” is because his production has been steady for 2 years. He had 69 tackles in ’11 and 62 in ’12. I think there is potential for more production but again, we’ll have to see it.

LB Benardrick McKinney (UPGRADE)- This was an easy one to me. As a freshman he had 102 tackles and received freshman All-American honors. With a year of experience under his belt, I think he gives us more.

LB Matt Wells (UPGRADE)- I think Wells will have a significant spike in production due to new DC Geoff Colin’s scheme. Wells was grossly misused in Wilson’s read and react. He will play much more to his strengths this year, which are attacking and blitzing.

CB Justin Cox (SAME)– For me to rate Justin as “same” taking over for Jonathon Banks tells you how I feel about him. I think scheme will help him make the adjustment easier and he will make the transition seamlessly.

CB Will Redmond (DOWNGRADE)- This one could just as easily be Cedric Jiles but the rating would be the same. I think both guys will be really good players for MSU but they just aren’t Darius Slay right now. They could end up better in the long run but right now it’s a position downgrade.

S Nickoe Whitley (UPGRADE)- Nickoe was coming off of his Achilles injury and he looked a bit bigger last year and played a step slower. This year his conditioning looks great and he looks to have overcome his injury. If Nickoe returns to ’11 form, he will be a big upgrade over himself last year not being 100%,

S Dee Arrington (UPGRADE)- This one could just as easily been Jay Hughes but the rating stays the same. As much as I liked Corey Broomfield, either Arrington or Hughes is a big upgrade at S from last year.

MSU 2013 Offensive Roster: Position by Position Upgrade or Downgrade?

Image

Right now MSU is in full swing with Spring Practice and the starting positions for 2013 are starting to become a bit clearer. By no means are my roster assumptions set in stone. There are also some guys coming in this summer who have the opportunity to make some noise and potentially crack the starting lineup like Fred Ross. When I do this, I’m using my best guess as to who the offensive starters will be. I’m also basing my position grades of same, upgrade, or downgrade based on who they replaced from last year or if returning starters have much more ceiling to improve. This is a fun debate topic that everyone will have different ideas on.

QB Tyler Russell (SAME)- After a solid JR year (2,897 yards 24 td) you have to wonder how much improvement Russell can make. Tyler has the tools to take it to the next level but he needs to prove it on the field. If he does give us an “upgrade” type year we should notice it in the win column.

RB Ladarius Perkins (SAME)- I have LP rated as “same” because he ran for 1,024 yards last year with 8 tds. That is a great year in my mind and I don’t know how much more he can do. I will admit that he could have been an “upgrade” if I had full faith that he would be utilized better as a receiver but that’s not in his control.

WR Robert Johnson (UPGRADE)- This one is simple. With his size, athleticism, and hands there wasn’t a single starting WR last year with his tools and he has looked good this spring. A legitimate NFL talent.

WR Joe Morrow (SAME)- Joe has all the things you can’t teach to be a huge upgrade from anyone we had starting last year but he has to gain that confidence and show it. I’m also not 100% sold that he holds off Michael Carr.

WR Jameon Lewis (UPGRADE)- Another slightly controversial grade. This one is simple to me. We all loved Bumphis but he just isn’t as electric with the ball in his hands. Jameon is getting a ton of targets from Russell in practice and if that continues in the fall, we will see more big plays out of the slot.

TE Malcolm Johnson (SAME)- This one is debatable. My reasoning is that he and Marcus Green’s combined numbers were 28 rec and 8 td. I’m not sold on that Malcolm will get enough targets for his 2013 to be and “upgrade” from the 2012 TE numbers. I think he is a better player than Green but duplicating 8 td catches will be tough and improving on that will be even harder.

LT Blaine Clausell (UPGRADE)- When you look at Blaine’s jump from his Rfr to his Soph year, it was pretty significant, particularly his pass blocking. I think we see more improvement in the pass blocking and a noticeably better run blocking year from him. Not yet All-SEC contender but a better Blaine.

G Gabe Jackson (UPGRADE)- Gabe passed on the NFL last year and returned for his senior year. In spring practice he has looked like a mauler. It’s his last year and the potential money he stands to make drives more improvement. We should see the best we’ve seen of Gabe.

C Dillon Day (UPGRADE)- I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching Dillion this spring. He’s taken his game to the next level and he has embraced a leadership role. I think we see Dillion get some All-SEC looks next year if he performs like he’s capable of.

G Justin Malone (DOWNGRADE)- I’m going to first admit that I’m being really tough here. I really like Malone as a player and he has a very high ceiling. I’m basing this of off that you could tell a big difference when Tobias Smith was in the game last year. I think Justin has the potential to blow this grading up and I hope he does. Hopefully he’ll read this, get angry, and make me look like a moron. I’ll welcome it and give him his proper shine.

RT Charles Siddoway (UPGRADE)-  Last year we saw the tough transition from Juco to SEC ball. I think Charles played pretty well. What many don’t know is that he played most of the year with torn tendons in both feet. He showed big time toughness last year and I’m banking on a healthy Siddoway in 2013 playing like he feels which is hopefully much better.

Tuesday Practice Notes and Thoughts

Image

-In running game drills they worked a lot of stretch or outside runs

-2nd look at Josh Robinsonand his conditioning looks improved from the fall

-Jameon continuing to look focused; going very hard in drills

-Malcolm runs drills w/WR (it seems they really want to exploit his pass catching ability)

-biggest thing  Derrick Milton/Josh Robinson need to improve is pass blocking

-Matt Wells,Richie Brown ,Bednardrick Mckinney,  Deonte Skinner, and ChrisHughes looked fast in pass blocking/rushing drills. They’re hard to block.

-Ladarius Perkins is our best pass blocking RB and isn’t close

-Matt Wells dominated everyone he faced in pass rushing drills. He’s just too fast

-walk-on QB Josh Hand (j)r has a decent arm and is our 3rd QB this spring

-Chappelle looks better in the 1 on 1 drills than in team or 7 on 7’s

-Nickoe looks 10x better moving. Laterally, cutting, etc…

-DB’s winning more of the 1on 1 vs. Wr’s

-Rojo Rojo Rojo

-great adjustment and back shoulder catch by Fred Brown

 

-Will Redmond and JamesonLlove got a few reps at ko return

-nice int by Jay Hughes in 7 on 7 passing drills. Another 1 on a tip a few plays later

-Rojo beats Cox on a fade/streak

-Fred Brown gets a long TD

-Michael Carr catching everything thrown at him

-Nice diving pbu by Richie Brown

– Dee Arrington has great size for SS. Looks like an all-SEC guy (eye test)

-PJ Jones blows up a running play

-Tyler Russel making audibles and coverage checks without coaching instructions.

-2 straight catches for Morrow

-Deontae Evans with a nice blitz and TFL

-nice 10 yard run by Derrick Milton

-Nick James killing 2nd team OL

-don’t think anyone has more fun playing football than Nick James

-Jameon Lewis getting plenty of targets and receptions  in scrimmage (5 straight receptions on passing downs). Looks to be Russell’s go to right now.

-15 yard run by Milton then 10 next play

-Brandon Hill layed out for a nice reception

-can’t comment enough on how much better Nickoe’s conditioning looks.

-long run for Ladarius Perkins

-Morrow w/a 20 yard grab on sideline

 

While in attendance of my 2nd practice of the spring I again jotted down notes as practice went along. If you notice more notes on skill players than lineman it’s because of where they practice on the field in relation to where fans have to watch.

So far I’d have to say my biggest surprise of the spring is Fred Brown. I honestly wasn’t expecting much but he constantly catches your eye in drills and scrimmage. You can really see him progressing as a WR after coming from a run only offense in high school. I feel good about his future at WR; he will be good for us.

The 2 guys that really seem to be asserting themselves as playmakers on offense are Jameon Lewis and Robert Johnson (Rojo). Jameon is going all out of every drill, has great hands, and gets more targets than any other WR. He is really slick when he gets the ball in his hands. I’m really excited about him this fall. Robert is the big, strong presence we have been missing at WR. He’s got really good speed as well and is never brought down by the first DB to tackle him. He’s just too strong for that.

On the defensive line it’s easy to notice that PJ Jones has really stepped up. He looks really good physically and is playing like what we expected from him. He’s the leader of the DT group. Nick James looks as if he has really turned it on. He’s my favorite guy to watch because he looks to have the most fun out there. He is definitely the personality of our defense and he looks ready to make a bigger splash this year. Preston Smith has really impressed me at DE. He is gotten bigger and looks really good out there. Since the QB’s are off limits it’s hard to judge his sacks but it looks like our T’s really struggle with him. I think he’ll lead us in sacks again.

At DB the number 1 thing that has been evident is how different Nickoe looks. His injury obviously greatly affected his conditioning last year and he looked to be a step slower last year. He is much slimmer this spring and appears to be moving like he used to. It was easiest to notice in the 1 on 1 cover drills how much better he appears to feel. Will Redmond continues to impress and get plenty of opportunities with the 1’s. The battle at SS is pretty cool to watch. Just from eye test and the drills you want to hand it to Dee Arrington. He’s impressive looking physically and athletically. Then in scrimmages and 7 on 7’s, Jay Hughes is always in the right spot (had 2 int’s close together today). I’m not sure who will ultimately win that battle but I’m comfortable with either.

The last thing that really jumped out at me was during our pass blocking/pass rushing drills how good our LB’s were.  They were matched up with RB’s and TE’s and our LB’s were simply unblockable. Mckinney is so long, he is physically suited to be a good blitzer. The number 1 guy that stuck out was easily Matt Wells. He is lightening and no one came close to putting a body on him. With Collins saying he’s bringing the mayhem, I really expect Matt Wells to be utilized much more to his ability. If he gets turned loose blitzing this fall, I really think he will make the biggest improvement from last year. The correct utilization of Matt Wells and his elite athletic ability will pay dividends.

MSU Season Expectation Benchmarks

Image

  Sat, Aug 31  Oklahoma State  Houston, TX (Reliant Stadium) 

  Sat, Sep 07  Alcorn State  Starkville    

  Sat, Sep 14  Auburn *  Auburn, AL 

  Sat, Sep 21  Troy  Starkville 

  Sat, Oct 05  LSU *  Starkville    

  Sat, Oct 12  Bowling Green (HC)  Starkville    

  Thu, Oct 24  Kentucky *  Starkville 

  Sat, Nov 02  South Carolina *  Columbia, SC 

  Sat, Nov 09  Texas A&M *  College Station, TX 

  Sat, Nov 16  Alabama *  Starkville 

  Sat, Nov 23  Arkansas *  Little Rock, AR       

  Sat, Nov 30  Ole Miss *  Starkville 

 

Entering the 5th year of the Mullen regime there has been a ton of discussion among MSU fans as to where we should be as a program. Everyone aspires to be competing for the SEC West crown but is that reasonable? Expectations are such a tricky thing for a team’s fan base to approach rationally. What would define a successful season for the Bulldogs next year?

Since I’m going to tell you what I call successful or not, I need to tell you what I’m basing it on. When I set my expectations for MSU I first look at our own team and what we have coming back. That’s the most important aspect. Part 2 is looking at the conference schedule. MSU can return a pretty dang good football team and have a brutal conference slate which will be greatly weighted. Another thing I like to look at is history. By that I mean recent history. For an SEC reference, I like to think of 1992 (the division split) until now as recent history and that may be stretching it to be honest. If you’ve never been to the SEC Championship Game, I don’t think forming your expectations on making that game as very rational from a fan standpoint.

Let’s examine some records and what I think.

5-7 and below- I do not care if we beat Ole Miss or not. Any scenario that has us with a losing record is unacceptable at this point. I wouldn’t care if we upset #1 Alabama. A losing season would be a colossal disappointment.

6-6- This one is where it could get interesting. There are a few scenarios that make this record feel a lot different. If MSU finishes 6-6 and doesn’t beat Ole Miss, I consider the season a failure. If MSU finishes with 6 wins and an Ole Miss victory but then loses the bowl (ultimately finishing 6-7), I would consider the year a failure.  The only way I would be sold on a 6-6 regular season is if it includes an Egg Bowl win and a bowl game win getting us to 7-6. Many may disagree but with the current climate of the SEC West and our OOC schedule, I think that is a fair assessment.

7-5- This record seems better on the surface but what if we get to 7 wins and lose the Egg Bowl? I say it’s a failure. A 7 win season, including an Egg Bowl win, and I would be good with that. What if we win 7, win the Egg, and lose the bowl to finish 7-6. That’s a tough scenario. It would be a bitter pill but one I think I’d force myself to swallow. All in all, if we win 7 and it includes an Egg Bowl victory, I’ll be ok.

8-5- In my mind, 8 wins in the regular season and it’s a success. Many will refer to last year when 8 wins didn’t have that great feel after the Ole Miss game and the Gator Bowl. The finish last year was tough on everyone but considering the strength of the SEC and our history, you can’t be mad at 8 win season and I think that rings true here.

9 wins and up- When you look at our schedule, I don’t think there is any way anyone wouldn’t be happy with a 9+ win year. I don’t care how we get there and who we do or don’t beat. 9+ wins would be a great year and another step forward for Mullen and company.

 

I’ll be the first to admit that everyone is different and has different ideas of what is acceptable for MSU football or not. Some guys expect SEC championships and while I don’t agree with you right now, I’m certainly not mad at you. I challenge everyone to take a good look at our team, the schedule, and factor in our history and set your own personal benchmark for success. Not only that, put your take on record so you have an argument to stand on at years end if it’s not reached.