|September 03, 2012||This Blog Has Moved||no comments|
|September 03, 2012||First Look: Blog Move Coming; MSU Motivated for Auburn||2 comments|
|September 02, 2012||Sunday Chat: Mullen Talks Auburn, Defense, Running Backs||no comments|
|September 01, 2012||FINAL: MSU 56, Jackson State 9||no comments|
|September 01, 2012||Jackson State-MSU Pregame: Bulldogs Open Season Minus Three Players||no comments|
|September 01, 2012||Game Day: All the Important Links||no comments|
|August 31, 2012||31 Flavors of Football: Dawg Walk||no comments|
|August 31, 2012||Blog Bag Answers: On Time (Plus, SANDSTORM)||no comments|
|August 31, 2012||Q&A: Jackson State Coach Rick Comegy||no comments|
|August 31, 2012||Game Day Eve: Bulldogs Talking Up Tigers||no comments|
One more reminder for all of you: This blog has moved to insidemsusports.com, so please bookmark that to keep up with all the Mississippi State news and analysis from the Daily Journal. For the time being, all old blog posts will remain here, but they will soon be moved over to the new blog.
Thanks for reading.
This week's game: Auburn (0-1, 0-0 SEC) at MSU (1-0, 0-0), Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN (Dave Pasch play-by-play, Brian Griese analyst, Jenn Brown sideline)
Before we get into game week stuff, there is a major housekeeping item that requires your attention: This blog is getting a new home.
This will become a Wordpress-supported blog, and so you should go ahead and bookmark insidemsusports.com, and it will go live around 10 a.m. today. In a few days, we hope to have all the old posts from this blog moved to that one, but until then, you can keep visiting this blog to catch up or review older entries.
This is a major upgrade for us. The new blog will allow me to do much more, especially in the multl-media department. Video and audio can be directly uploaded to the new blog, and I will be able to post from my phone when the situation requires it. I believe the overall look and feel of the blog will be greatly improved.
You will probably see some tweaks early on as I get settled in over there, but I believe your experience of reading about MSU sports will be greatly enhanced by this move. One notable change as far as you're concerned is the comments section. We'll be using Disqus, a popular commenting system that allows you to log in via the social network of you choice. This will hopefully make for more robust conversations among readers.
If you have any questions about anything, let me know and I'll try to help.
OK, let's get back to football now. Be sure to check out my MSU rewind in today's Journal (CLICK HERE), and now let's take a look at Auburn.
• Last meeting: Auburn 41, MSU 34 (Sept. 10, 2011, in Auburn)
• Series: Auburn leads 60-23-2.
• Auburn on the Web: auburntigers.com
• Auburn coach: Gene Chizik (30-11, fourth year)
• 3 Auburn players to watch: RB Tre Mason, WR Emory Blake, LB Daren Bates
• Premature review: During our Premature Preview of Auburn (CLICK HERE), we discussed the changes at offensive and defensive coordinator. Gus Malzahn is gone to Arkansas State, so now Scot Loeffler is the man running the show, and he's doing so with a new quarterback, Kiehl Frazier.
The early returns aren't great. Auburn lost to No. 14 Clemson, 26-19, to open the season (CLICK HERE). Frazier was 11 of 27 for 194 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and Auburn had 374 total yards, including 180 rushing. Meanwhile, Clemson piled up 528 yards against Brian VanGorder's defense.
I don't know that the Tigers would call it a good loss, but it wasn't a bad one. Clemson is supposed to be very good this season, and Auburn is trying to fill some big holes. However, the matchup for MSU certainly seems favorable, especially its offense against that Auburn defense. And there's the added motivation of the last two meetings, which Auburn has won by a combined 10 points.
"Our guys are motivated, they know how big it is, and we always put that emphasis on the first (SEC) game of the season," Dan Mullen said on his teleconference Sunday. "That first conference game of the season is so important. I think they'll be ready to go, they'll be fired up and ready to play, and I know they're going to be ready to find a way to pull it out here in the end finally this year."
Vegas has MSU as a 3.0- to 3.5-point favorite at home.
The day after MSU's 56-9 victory over Jackson State to open the season, head coach Dan Mullen held his regular Sunday teleconference. And per usual, I missed it due to the noon start. But I listened to the recording and will present it to you in full below. Most of the questions were asked by the usual suspects, Brandon Marcello, Matthew Stevens and David Murray.
First, though, let's give you some links in case you've not seen them (just click on each one):
Now, to Mullen.
Q: Are the guys extra motivated for Auburn based on what's happened in the past?
DM: We've been right there, had opportunities to win, and didn't pull it out. Our guys are motivated, they know how big it is, and we always put that emphasis on the first game of the season. That first conference game of the season is so important. I think they'll be ready to go, they'll be fired up and ready to play, and I know they're going to be ready to find a way to pull it out here in the end finally this year.
Q: Auburn passed a lot in last night's loss to Clemson. What do you make of that?
DM: I don't know. I think they're finding themselves. They have two new coordinators – they've got a new offense, they've got a new defense. I think they're just still working out the kinks and trying to find what their identity is going to be with this year's team. I think you'll see some things similar possibly, some new things we didn't see yesterday.
Q: Regarding big plays on defense last night, how much of that is coached up vs. the players' skills?
DM: I think it's probably a little bit of both. We try to get them in a position to make plays. I think our staff does a good job of putting our guys in a position to make plays. Then it becomes their athletic ability. If we put them in that spot, then they have the ability to make a play, and we were able to do that. Once the ball's in their hands, then a lot of recruiting takes over. It's obviously good your defense makes big plays, your defense can score points, that's going to be a huge, huge deal for you. Hopefully we continue that. Hopefully we get a bunch of defensive scores throughout the season.
Q: Have you settled on anything with your kickers?
DM: What I'm happy with is everybody did a pretty good job. I want to see how they all do this week. You had Charlie Grandfield did a good job with PATs, and (Brian) Egan did a good job kicking off, and obviously Devon Bell did a great job with doing both. So we'll see how this week goes and how their preparation goes, and it's good to know we have some guys that can go kick the ball.
Q: You talked about wanting to see improvement in QB Tyler Russell after last night. Anything else about last night you want to see improved on?
DM: With Tyler, I just think, I think, I want him to, I was happy really with his leadership on the field. I was happy with his demeanor during the course of the game. I didn't see him get flustered. When he made a bad throw, I think he understood and was trying to make adjustments off of it. I think when he sees that stuff, he's going to want to correct it and fix a couple of things up this week. But overall his performance, I thought it was pretty solid, but I still expect more. I'm always going to expect more out of him because I want, that's a position we want to be the best to lead us where we need to go.
Q: What's the status of the three suspended players (P.J. Jones, Jamerson Love and Ricco Sanders)?
DM: Like I said, they're suspended indefinitely, in the statement. If guys are going to be suspended next week, we'll always announce that on Saturday morning.
Q: Tailback Derrick Milton had some good runs after coming in. Will you just go with the hot hand at running back?
DM: I think all the guys ran pretty well. That leaves you to have that comfort to rotate them into the game. Really, I think you'll see us play a bunch of them, because I want to keep those guys fresh throughout the game and keep them fresh and explosive. That's why I think you saw some explosiveness out of the backs, because they were fresh. Throughout the night we were able to rotate them in and keep guys fresh. When they got kind of on a roll, you let them go and keep playing. I think you'll see all four play throughout the year.
Q: What do you know about Auburn's QB, Khiel Frazier?
DM: You know what, he's a really good quarterback. I remember him out of high school, great kid, really nice kid who we recruited him out of high school. But has all the skills. You watch him, he has the size and the skill to be a drop-back passer, but he also has that extra edge of athletic ability that he can create and keep plays alive with his feet. I know he did that some last night, and I've seen him do it in the past. I think last year I remember they used him a little bit more kind of running the ball, but in those situations just to get him comfortable. Now he's kind of a polished product and ready to be the every-down quarterback, and I think you saw that in last night's game
Recapping MSU's season-opening 56-9 win over Jackson State at Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday night.
MSU's 2012 campaign got off on the right foot. The Bulldogs staked an early lead, scoring 35 first-half points before JSU finally got on the board just before halftime. There were notable performances by quarterback Tyler Russell, tailback LaDarius Perkins, cornerback Darius Slay and linebacker Matthew Wells, among others.
Plenty of youngsters saw their first college playing time, including Joe Morrow, Quay Evans, Nick James and Derrick Milton. Several of them made good early impressions, especially Evans and James, a pair of big defensive tackles. They were on the field for both of MSU's pick-sixes, and then James forced a fumble that MSU recovered.
Russell was solid, completing 15 of 23 for 175 yards and two touchdowns, his longest pass covering 18 yards. Arceto Clark had three catches for 36 yards, while Milton wound up the leading rusher, with 65 yards on eight carries. He scored State's final touchdown on a 19-yard run.
Starting tailback LaDarius Perkins got light work, carrying eight times for 50 yards and two TDs, all in the first half. Three other running backs saw work, and Jameon Lewis got a couple of rushes out of the wildcat formation. Lewis had a nice game, making three catches for 32 yards and rushing those two times for 11 yards. Four of his touches resulted in first downs, including three on third down.
The defense had a lot of nice moments. Slay had a 52-yard interception return for touchdown in the second quarter, making it 35-0. In the third, Matthew Wells had a pick-six from 22 yards out. Slay finished with two tackles, while Wells had a team-high five stops, a sack and a pass break-up.
We've got a lot of things we can go over and teach off this film out of this game," head coach Dan Mullen said. "We got a lot of guys some reps, got a lot of guys experience, a lot of guys played football for the first time. And there's a little bit of everything we can go through and teach this week, and hopefully see a great improvement in our team between now and next Saturday's SEC kickoff game."
MSU finished with 377 yards – 194 rushing, 183 passing. JSU had 265 total yards – 109 rushing, 156 passing. Tiger quarterback Dedric McDonald was 14 of 27 for 136 yards, a touchdown and two picks. Rico Richardson made seven catches for 95 yards.
The first TD of the year was a 9-yard pass from Russell to Chad Bumphis, who did not have another catch after that.
MSU returns to action next week against SEC Western Division foe Auburn (11 a.m., ESPN).
MSU – Chad Bumphis 9 pass from Tyler Russell (Devon Bell kick), 11:19 (8 plays, 62 yards, 3:41)
MSU – LaDarius Perkins 7 run (Bell kick), 4:33 (4 plays, 42 yards, 1:49)
MSU – Perkins 1 run (Bell kick), 13:41 (9 plays, 52 yards, 4:11)
MSU – Marcus Green 13 pass from Russell (Bell kick), 4:44 (12 plays, 63 yards, 5:44)
MSU – Darius Slay 52 INT return (Charlie Grandfield kick), 2:32
JSU – E.J. Drewery 9 pass from Dedric McDonald (kick failed), :45 (8 plays, 93 yards, 1:47)
MSU – Dak Prescott 2 run (Grandfield kick), 5:55 (11 plays, 77 yards, 5:48)
MSU – Matthew Wells 22 INT return (Grandfield kick), 4:49
JSU – Ryan Deising 25 field goal, 9:13 (15 plays, 84 yards, 7:05)
MSU – Derrick Milton 19 run (Grandfield kick), 6:52 (5 plays, 71 yards, 2:12)
Today's game: Jackson State (0-0) at MSU (0-0), 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net/ESPN3.com (Bob Rathbun play-by-play, Tim Couch analyst, Elizabeth Moreau sideline), XM 196, Sirius 113.
Here we are, people. The season opener is here, and MSU is expected to take care of business against the Tigers, who hail from the SWAC and Division I-AA. JSU was 9-2 last year and tied for the Eastern Division title, losing out on a trip to the SWAC title game via a tie-breaker.
The Bulldogs, 7-6 last year with a win over Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl, will start 2012 without the services of at least three players. A team spokesman announced that sophomore defensive lineman P.J. Jones (Tupelo), sophomore cornerback Jamerson Love (Aberdeen) and junior receiver Ricco Sanders are suspended indefinitely for unspecified violations of team rules. All other Bulldogs are expected to be dressed out and available.
All three players are backups but have played key roles. Last year, Jones made nine tackles, recovered a fumble and had a pass break-up in 12 games. He'd been expected to compete for a starting job at defensive tackle this fall, but Curtis Virges (West Point) has won that battle for now. Love made 18 tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss and a pass break-up in 13 games last year. Sanders had 15 catches for 163 yards (10.9 ypc) and a touchdown in 12 games.
There were no injury updates given. On Monday, we were told that tight end Malcolm Johnson (pectoral injury) was doubtful for at least the next two games, while backup offensive lineman Templeton Hardy (ankle) was doubtful today.
1. Wear ’em down. MSU hasn’t had this much depth in years, and by nature will be deeper than Jackson State. Expect Dan Mullen to have heavy rotations at several positions, in particular running back, defensive line and linebacker.
The most important of those positions might be the defensive line, which is especially deep (and large) in the middle with Josh Boyd, Dewayne Cherrington, Devin Jones, Curtis Virges and others. JSU quarterback Dedric McDonald is big and can run, so he won’t be easy to take down, but MSU should be able to hem him in over four quarters.
2. Start fast. No sense in letting the Tigers hang around and start believing they can pull off the upset. The first quarter was MSU’s best last year, as it outscored opponents 110-58.
This will require the offense to be crisp from the first possession. That begins with quarterback Tyler Russell, who has experience but is in his first season as full-time starter; if he can direct the show with authority early on, that should set the tone for MSU.
While JSU has a change at quarterback this year, it’s still a potentially explosive offense. A slow start for MSU and a fast start for Jackson State won’t necessarily equal an upset, but it’ll make things too difficult for Mullen’s tastes, especially if some expected bad weather materializes.
3. Don’t look ahead. A huge game looms for MSU next Saturday, at home against Auburn. The Bulldogs have lost four in a row and 10 of the last 11 versus Auburn. It’s a chance for Mullen to finally beat an SEC Western Division team not named Ole Miss.
It’s a game that could swing MSU’s season in very different directions depending on the result. If this team is as mature as advertised, taking care of current business first shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
It’s also important to make it through today without any significant injuries.
• NOTABLE STAT: Mullen is the only SEC coach since 2009 to average at least 50 points in season openers. The scores: 45-7 (Jackson State, 2009), 49-7 (Memphis, 2010), 59-17 (Memphis, 2011). That's an average of 51.0 points per game.
• WEATHER: Gonna be hot, might be wet. The forecast has improved a bit as the week's gone on and Hurricane Isaac failed to deliver the kind of downpours we'd been promised. My trusty-ish Weather Channel app calls for a 40 percent chance of this evening, with temps in the mid-80s at kickoff and dipping just below 80 by game's end.
Today's game: Jackson State (0-0) at MSU (0-0), 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net/ESPN3.com (Bob Rathbun, Tim Couch and Elizabeth Moreau), XM 196, Sirius 113
At long last, it is here. In a few hours, Davis Wade Stadium will be packed and the football will fly off the kicking tee to mark the start of MSU's 2012 season, the fourth under coach Dan Mullen. You've got all day to tailgate and/or watch other games on TV. You also have time to soak up all the info we're bringing to you in the Journal today.
Our GameDay section is a must-read, and you can find it online if you CLICK HERE. And read John Pitts' column while you're at it. Or if you insist on a direct link, CLICK HERE. Inside GameDay you can find my main MSU story, which we've also broken out separately (CLICK HERE).
For all your other college football needs, be sure to visit our college football page (CLICK HERE).
I'll be in Starkville before too long, hoping the rain holds off so I can wander around the Junction. Hey, I don't like getting wet. So, look for my pregame blog later today.
To help you and me get through the drudgery of August, I will present in this space a daily scoop of MSU football-ness, as inspired by a certain ice cream chain. August has 31 days, so I'll let you work it out from there. Here is today's (final) flavor.
And so this month-long series comes to an end, and what more appropriate way to end it than with the walk MSU's players take through a sea of fans and into Davis Wade Stadium. The Dawg Walk, as it's known, is a pregame ritual similar to what most other schools do on game days.
Tomorrow, the MSU players will file off the buses in their Saturday finest, sharp-looking ensembles offset by those ubiquitous headphones stuck to their ears or draped around their necks. They will turn the corner at Stone Boulevard and Creelman Street, and the walk truly begins on a brick sidewalk that leads directly to the south end of the stadium. An elevated statue of Bully guards the throat of the sidewalk, and the players will part on either side of it like water around a rock.
Each side of the walk will be lined with maroon-and-white-clad fans – whooping, calling out players by names, reaching for a handshake from Dan Mullen, and of course, ringing cowbells. Just ahead of the players, the stadium juts sharply into the sky as it awaits their arrival and the culmination of all this building excitement.
I have walked the route once, a couple of years ago. It was prior to the season opener against Memphis, and I arrived a few minutes ahead of the team. The sidewalk was already thickly lined by fans, some of whom were strolling along or across the sidewalk, going to or from one of the many tailgate tents dotting The Junction.
If you care to watch the video (which is perhaps a bit tedious), CLICK HERE. That barely gives you a sense of what it's like; what it must be like for the players and coaches I can only imagine. Noisy, yes, but the Dawg Walk is the fans' way of welcoming the Bulldogs to another game day, and in tomorrow's case, another season.
The Dawg Walk is the first true reminder for MSU fans that September has been reawakened. Let's play ball.
Hey, look, I'm on time for once. The first game of the football season has a way of getting me back on track and out of my summer insouciance. Y'all asked some good questions, and I've got answers for each and every one of 'em. Here we go.
Q: Given cornerback Darius Slay's recent rise and the fact that he is relatively new to the program, how good is he, or capable of being, compared to Johnthan Banks?
A: That's a high bar, but Slay – a senior who transferred in from ICC last year – could be one of the SEC's surprise players this season.
I asked Dan Mullen about Slay the other day. His response in full: "I think he could be really good. The one thing that set him back a little bit was he came into camp so late last year. Really this is his first time he's gotten to go through the offseason, gotten to understand the defense. Obviously is an extremely talented young man. I think as he gets comfortable in the system now, as he gets the experience not only being comfortable in this system but also being out there, being a starter for us in the secondary, I expect him to have a huge year for us."
Q: Saw something about Joe Morrow not being on the depth chart. What are expectations as to whether he plays this year?
A: Morrow, the redshirt freshman receiver, was accidentally left off the depth chart. Or so Morrow told us earlier this week. He will most definitely play; how much he plays is entirely up to him. If he can find the consistency coaches have been seeking from him in practice, I could see him having a strong freshman season. I don't know, 25-30 catches, a handful of touchdowns?
Q: Can game attendees expect to hear a new playlist of music this season at Davis Wade Stadium?
A: A marketing spokesman told me today that there is no list, but that the DJ will play music similar to what has been played in the past. The pregame tunes will be geared more toward the student-athletes, and then once the game begins it'll be geared toward the fans. Also, much to Bob Carskadon's relief, SANDSTORM.`
Q: Given the fact not many freshmen normally make the two-deep roster, what do you feel the contributions this season will be from Quay Evans, Morrow and Nick James? Do you think either Evans or James will redshirt?
A: We've covered Morrow. As for Evans, he will be in the defensive line rotation, and going through spring practices is a big reason for that. I could see James playing in certain situations, but I wouldn't be surprised if he redshirted just because of the depth MSU has at defensive tackle. That's one big dude, I'll tell ya that.
Q: Over/under: Tyler Russell four TDs and 250 yards this weekend? He's the man when it comes to season openers
A: Indeed he is. In his two previous season openers combined (both against Memphis), Russell completed 18 of 25 passes (72%) for 394 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. His production tomorrow will depend a lot on how many snaps he gets. If MSU gets a comfortable lead early, then Dak Prescott will wind up taking a lot of snaps. I'd probably take the under on the touchdowns, but the 250 seems about right.
Q: Brad, what are you most looking forward to gameday? A) Jackson State Majorettes; B) LaDarius Perkins breaking ankles; C) BBQ Nachos from Little Dooey's; D) None of the above.
A: If you read Monday's entry in the 31 Flavors series, then you know that the answer is my halftime snack of muscadine ripple ice cream. So I guess my answer is D.
I caught up with Jackson State coach Rick Comegy yesterday to preview the season opener at Mississippi State (Saturday, 6 p.m., FSN). We talked about his new starting quarterback, offensive production and whether JSU has a chance to win Saturday.
BL: What have you learned in scouting MSU?
RC: We know they're fast, big and strong. They move real well, and one thing for sure they're well-coached. From steps to fundamentals, we have to make sure that we don't get out there and make a lot of mistakes, because they're fundamentally sound. That's what we're trying to be, and hopefully we'll be that. That's what I gathered from them. They're not going to make a lot of things to hurt themselves. We've just got to play a solid football game with a team like that.
BL: How tough does MSU's defensive line look?
RC: Their defensive line, I know they've been touting about the defense, at least in the things I've been hearing from that way. They've got great depth and get after you. … Our offensive line has really got our hands full to try to keep that under control, because I know it's been a real strong point. That's what I read in the newspapers, the defense is really, really jumped out and is playing good football for them. I know if they can put points on the board, it's going to be hard to come back with a defense playing at that level and that capacity. You win up front, there's no doubt about it. That battle's going to be going on. I'm hoping we can withstand that challenge and put some points on the board as well.
BL: How comfortable are you with Dedric McDonald at QB, and will you have a leash on him?
RC: I feel very, very good about Dedric. He's had a good camp. I can't take anything away from him. He's earned the role, not just because he's been around. He really came back and made a (180) in the way he operates – his technique, his throws, his steps, his understanding, film-watching. He decided to be a football player, and I'm so glad to see that. I have all the confidence in the world. I just don't want him to go into the game thinking that if he makes a mistake that we're going to automatically snatch him out and put somebody in. I want to give him every opportunity in the world and let him know that he is Jackson State's starting quarterback at this point. Then we'll go from there.
BL: Will any other quarterbacks play?
RC: If McDonald is hot and McDonald's doing the job, I don't want to play with it. We have a long season to go. If we're up and we get to a point we can make a change in quarterbacks. I like the status quo, meaning that if he's in there doing a fantastic job and he's hot and he's carrying the football team to where we're wanting to carry it, then I'm just going to let him carry it and not worry about going with another guy right now. Clayton Moore has been impressive, impressive, impressive, and right behind McDonald. He has his own package, and if we need to use a package that he's working in, we'll use it. We want to win the game, so we're going to do everything possible to win.
BL: What can you reasonably expect of Ole Miss transfer Tobias Singleton this weekend?
RC: He picked up the offense real well. He's done a fine job in practice. He's been studying a lot of film, he's been in his playbook. He's excited about playing. Every day at practice I see him catching more and more and more; he dropped a few early. But now lately he's just been snatching them and bringing them in and getting loose and getting RAC (run after catch) yards. I think he's going to be exciting. The more he plays, the better he's going to get. He's getting that feel for it, he's getting a feel of the locker room, getting a feel for the team. Right now he's become Jackson State. When he has that feel he'll play hard for us and not just be out there playing for Tobias. He's playing for Jackson State. Once he does that and continues doing that, he's going to be really exciting.
BL: What will be Singleton's role Saturday?
RC: There's no doubt about it, he's going to be on the field as a receiver and returning kicks.
BL: Can your offense approach last year's numbers?
RC: You never know. Last year what (Casey) Therriault did was a different concentration. With this group and coordinator now (Derrick McCall), the concentration last year was to stack up yards. We threw a lot; we threw in situations where we probably had the capability of running. And I'm not taking anything away from coach (Earnest) Wilson, I think coach Wilson did a fine job leading the offense to a 9-2 record, but I thought there were instances where we could've kept the ball on the ground and grind that clock out a little bit and do some things that would've made us a much better football team. We just stayed up in the air. It was successful, but this year we have a stable of backs that can run – B.J. Lee, Tony Gooden, Rakeem Sims, Marquese Dunn. They're not bad football players, and we've got to use them as a weapon. We can't just let people sit back and come up with ideas on how to get to the quarterback and rush him real hard like they did last year. When they started getting to Therriault, we still tried to do some things where we had an opportunity to hurt them elsewhere. If those numbers don't happen, I'm really not into matching those numbers, I'm just into trying to get W's the best way we can.
BL: When we spoke earlier this month about playing MSU, you said, "Any given day…" Do you tell the guys they have a real shot here?
RC: The thing right now is the kids have got to know that they have the opportunity of a lifetime. If we're lucky to have another game with an SEC school, that would be great, but we may never, ever have an opportunity to step up to play this game, especially the seniors. It's an opportunity of a lifetime. The football is shaped funny, and it rolls funny and it bounces funny. Any day you come out right, you come out rightly prepared to play and just play and have fun, anything can happen in this game of football.
This week's game: Jackson State (0-0) at MSU (0-0), Saturday, 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net/ESPN3.com (Bob Rathbun, Tim Couch and Elizabeth Moreau)
Mississippi State has been saying what it's supposed to say this week leading up to the season opener. Players and coaches have lauded Jackson State, noting the Tigers' experience on defense and their weapons on offense.
Dan Mullen certainly talked up new starting quarterback Dedric McDonald.
"They had a great quarterback last year, but all the weapons that are around him, the experience around him, especially the O-line giving him time, those are things that are going to allow that quarterback to develop," Mullen said. "From what I saw, the guy that's coming to play, he's a redshirt senior, he's played college football and has been around a bunch. I don't think that's going to be as big a drop-off maybe as people think it will be from their guy that was obviously a great player last year."
In today's Journal I have a story about JSU and that offense, as it moves on after the Casey Therriault era (CLICK HERE). Later today I'll post a Q&A from my interview with JSU coach Rick Comegy, who is not planning on being a sacrificial lamb in Starkville tomorrow.
• Mullen's first game as a head coach was three years ago against Jackson State. The Bulldogs won that day, 45-7. Thirty-eight games later, it's going to be a different feel for Mullen today.
"You still have the first game of the season-type feeling," he said. "But the first game in a career is a very different. … I’m paranoid this week because you’re kind of out of routine. “I mean I’m going through do I have my whistle in my bag, do you have your pen ready that you need on the sidelines? You know, all of those different notes of reviewing it.
"You get nervous about that stuff, where’s the two-point chart exactly where I need to have it? By week six you’re rolling; week one? I’ll probably forget something along the way and mess something up. But the overall feeling is the excitement for the first game, where that game was different.”
• Hey, we've got a new college football page here at DJournal.com, so please bookmark it (CLICK HERE). There's a Mississippi State page, so bookmark that, too. And be sure you grab a copy of tomorrow's Journal, if for nothing else than the GameDay section that'll be inside it.
• The college football season began last night, and it was glorious. That doesn't mean it was pretty, but South Carolina took an exciting 17-13 win over Vanderbilt (CLICK HERE).
• OK, here's the rest of this weekend's SEC schedule.
–Tennessee vs. N.C. State (Atlanta), 6:30 p.m., ESPNU
–Buffalo at Georgia, 11:21 a.m., SEC Network
–Bowling Green at Florida, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
–Jacksonville State at Arkansas, 6 p.m., Arkansas PPV
–Central Arkansas at Ole Miss, 6 p.m., Ole Miss PPV
–Southeast Louisiana at Missouri, 6 p.m., Missouri PPV
–North Texas at LSU, 6 p.m., ESPNU
–Auburn vs. Clemson (Atlanta), 6 p.m., ESPNU
–Alabama vs. Michigan (Dallas), 7 p.m., ABC
–Kentucky at Louisville, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
(Note: Texas A&M vs. Louisiana Tech, in Shreveport, was postponed until Oct. 13 due to Hurricane Isaac.)