Blog Bag Answers: So Many Questions

Well, y’all didn’t disappoint. Plenty o’ good questions this week, and I have hopefully provided some good answers. Let’s do it.

Q: Is MSU’s offensive line that good, or is Auburn’s that bad? Or a combination of the two?

A: A combination. Auburn was strong at the end positions, and while Blaine Clausell got pushed around a bit in the first half, he pretty much held his own. Auburn’s defensive tackles are not very good and were no match for MSU’s strong interior line.

Q: Maybe I missed it, but when will the times for the rest of the games be decided?

A: We know that next week’s South Alabama game is set for 6 p.m., and hopefully we’ll find out the Kentucky time on Sunday or Monday. Other times will be announced within similar time windows relative to each game.

Q: Will be able to watch the game at a sports bar such as Buffalo Wild Wings?

A: Yes. The Buffalo Wild Wings in Starkville is showing it, and so is the one in Tupelo. Stagger In will also have it in Starkville.

Q: What is up with Devon Bell‘s field goal kicking?

A: Bell, a freshman, is 0 for 3 on field goals. Here’s what Dan Mullen said about him earlier this week: “I think it’s about getting him confidence because you can see in his technique that he’s a little more strain in his field goals. He has got enough leg and doesn’t need to be straining. If it’s adrenaline or whatever it is he has, you can see it in his technique. He knows he can do the job and he’s handled it really well.”

Q: Is there any mental benefit of playing out-of-conference games against smaller schools on the road? Does it help the players focus on the job at hand by getting on the bus and staying in the hotel?

A: I think there can be an advantage to that, especially for the younger players. “It’s going to be maybe a little bit out of their comfort zone,” senior linebacker Cam Lawrence said. “For us older guys, we’ve been there, we know the ropes, we know the routine. It’s just our job to show them the ropes, show them the routine, and get them ready to play their first away game.”

Q: Are the coaches getting a good idea of where the team is in its development or are we still guessing about how good the competition has been so far?

A: Another reader asked a very similar question to this, so that will be addressed here. The development is a process, for sure. I asked Mullen about the identity of this team and whether it’s become evident yet. His lengthy response:

“I think we’re getting closer. I don’t think that we’re there yet but I do think we’re getting closer. We wanted to be a balanced team, we wanted to be able to mix up run and pass wise on the offensive side of the ball and execute cleanly. I think we’re getting close that way. Defensively, we want to play a lot of guys. That personality, to me, is what I was hoping this team to have, is starting to really come out. I want to see how that goes this week. The personality, we have the confidence when we go on the road to continue to execute and play our game like we’ve been able to do at home.”

Q: Is the defensive line living up to the coaches’ expectations so far? Is the rotation of so many players providing the impact we expected?

A: I’d say it yes on both counts. Mullen said he’s happy with the group.

“Obviously we still have a lot of improving to do, especially with those younger guys, but it’s great they’ve got some experience on the field. As they continue to grow and develop, they’re going to continue to improve. That is a position, as you go through a season especially in the Southeastern Conference, you have to be deep and you have to be able to rotate those defensive linemen in and out, because that, to me, is where you can win football games. If you can control the line of scrimmage, you’re going to win a lot of football games and we need those guys to continue to improve so we can play fresh guys throughout four quarters of the game.”

Q: Realistically, when do we see State get ranked?

A: Well, could be as early as Sunday. Mainly depends on what happens in front of MSU. A lot of those teams could lose and open the door for State. No. 25 BYU has to play rival Utah; No. 23 Florida plays at Tennessee; No. 21 Stanford’s got Southern Cal; No. 20 Notre Dame takes on Michigan State.

But because of the level of competition coming up for MSU, plus a bye week, I suppose you might not see the Bulldogs ranked until after the Kentucky game (Oct. 6).

Q: BL, can you use your probably many connections to ask ESPN why they aren’t using the CORRECT/NEW MS State logo? Every time an SEC discussion takes place, they (ESPN) are showing the old logo. Not a huge problem, but they are supposedly the “leader in sports”.

A: I contacted a guy I know who works on the production side of things at ESPN, and the logo he showed me that they use looks like the new logo, but the maroon on the big ‘M’ doesn’t quite look maroon enough, and the trim around it is white instead of gray.

My contact said that someone at MSU would need to contact ESPN to make sure they have the correct logo.

Q: What do you see as the best and worst case scenario outcomes from the “recruiting irregularity” based on the new information of this week?

A: Tough for me to speculate on that, but the fact that MSU has been cooperating with the NCAA for several months could potentially help its cause. Plus, Angelo Mirando is gone, and it appears a lot of the problems center around his recruiting tactics. What makes this especially tricky is the booster. Sure, MSU has disassociated him, but he did his damage while still a booster. And what we don’t know is the extent of his actions.

Supposedly, this investigation is nearing an end. We’ll just have to wait.

Q: Whose info is the most garbage? Byron De’Vinner or Joe Schad?

A: There are some discrepancies, sure, but don’t just write it all off. There is an investigation going on, it involves Mirando and Will Redmond, and there is a booster at the center of it. That’s not debatable. I can understand you taking issue with some of the details, especially given Schad’s reputation, and the fact that De’Vinner has been painted by some as a self-promoter and attention-grabber. But there is a lot of substance to the information that De’Vinner and Schad are putting out there.

Q: Why haven’t we seen much of Nick Griffin?

A: Derrick Milton has been the first tailback off the bench the first two games, which tells me he’s outperformed Griffin in practices. Not being allowed to watch practices, I can’t tell you what’s been holding Griffin back, although coaches thought he looked a little hesitant against Jackson State. He looked good on a 21-yard run against Auburn, but he had only two carries for 22 yards that day.

The season is still young. With such a deep rotation at tailback, there will be games where certain guys seem to disappear, but you can’t get everybody a bunch of carries every week.

Q: The MSU-Jackson State game was blacked out on ESPN3 in Northeast Alabama. Any chance that the Troy game will be blacked out?

A: There will be no blackouts anywhere. Be sure you read the MSU release on how you can watch the game.

I am the online content coordinator for I also co-host The Memo and Prep Rally podcasts and host the Newsbreak program. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04).

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