Blog Bag Answers: Smith’s Knee; Cam’s Hair; All the Tight Ends!

Y’all came through for me, like I figured you would. Good questions, and here are the answers.

Q: Do you know of any football stats comparable to Sabermetrics?

A: A really good site for those sort of stats is, and a sister site is Plenty at both there to occupy you.

Q: Is Tobias Smith‘s knee going to be okay for the Alabama game? If so, do you think he will play against Middle Tennessee?

A: I’m sure Smith will be fine for Alabama. He can play this week, too, based on what we know. Question is, how much will coaches let him play? You don’t want to take any unnecessary chances, but you want him to get the reps before this brutal closing stretch. Hard to say how much we’ll see of Smith tomorrow.

Q: My wife is jealous of Cam Lawrence‘s hair. What hair products does he use?

A: Ha, didn’t get a chance to talk to Lawrence this week, but that’s a question I’m sure a lot of people want to know the answer to. The ladies seem particularly interested in Lawrence. Ever notice, during pregame lineup introductions, how the cheers are an octave or two higher when his picture shows up on the video board?

Q: Why haven’t we seen more of Jameon Lewis? Only a handful of touches in six games? He is a dangerous threat, albeit one that has a history of fumbling. What gives?

A: How can I put this delicately: Lewis runs pass routes with all the purpose of a dizzy squirrel. He ad-libs too much. He isn’t doing his job within the framework of the offense. Until that changes, don’t look for Lewis to contribute much.

Q: Will State be able to beat BAMA?? That’s what everyone wants to know!!

A: Dan Mullen does not approve of your lack of focus on Middle Tennessee State. But to answer your question, no.

Q: Now that Marcus Green and Malcolm Johnson are both able to go, will we see a lot of two-tight end sets? I’m thinking a two-tight end, Dak Prescott at QB, goal line kind of formation could be pretty advantageous, particularly after that wide open pass to Green last Saturday.

A: The return of Johnson should open things up a bit for the offense. Offensive coordinator Les Koenning said, “It allows us the flexibility to be in two tights, it allows us the flexibility to be in four-wides with two tights. Formationally, it creates problems for defenses because they don’t know what your personnel grouping matches up with.”

Q: State has a pretty ridiculous turnover margin right now, which is kind of unusual. Do you think they can keep it up the rest of the season?

A: Yeah, plus 15 is quite ridiculous, and I think you’ll see that margin close up a little bit over the second half of the season, simply because the level of competition is about to get tougher. But if MSU can stay on the plus side every week, that should lead to big things.

Q: Is it just me, or does it seem MSU plays a bit more conservatively on defense? I know much has been made about the type of “off coverage” we’ve played, but I’m talking more about the blitzes, shifts and alignments on the line and linebackers. It seems like State was more likely to take risks by blitzing from all over the field the last couple of years. Maybe that stands out more because they were making more plays behind the line.

A: I asked Mullen about the aggressiveness of this year’s defense compared to previous units.

“Every year you’re going to have a little different personality with the personnel that you have, how it fits that way. This is probably the strongest secondary we’ve had since I’ve been here. On the D-line we have a lot of youth, so you see that part of it still developing. Overall, our goal here is always to play great defense, and we’re always going to tweak to the strengths of our players to make sure we do play great defense.”

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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  • 280Dawg

    So MSU “can’t” beat Bama? That’s good to know, Brad. You should let the coaches know that so they can forfeit now and move on to the next game. C’mon, man. You should be more objective than that. I’m sure they said the same thing in 1980….and even when Croom beat them just a few years ago….but hey, you say they can’t so why argue?

    • Brad Locke

      Let me amend that: MSU can beat Alabama, but it won’t. Just my objective opinion. If MSU does win, it’s a major upset.

      • Mushhog

        Q: Will State be able to beat BAMA?? That’s what everyone wants to know!!
        A: Dan Mullen does not approve of your lack of focus on Middle Tennessee State. But to answer your question, no.
        I have to admit that I was disconcerted when I read this inert response to that question.
        This is coming from a guy who claims to love writing. Well Brad, I must say, that was one fine piece of writing. Let me recap: “look at me try to be funny about focus and Dan Mullen being mad Ha-ha (LAME)…but let me answer your question with…No”.
        It gets better with your amendment. “MSU can beat Alabama, but it won’t. Just my objective opinion. If MSU does win, it’s a major upset.”
        First off, it won’t?!?! Question, are the players for MSU robots or 18-22 year old kids? Let’s humanize your response and correct “IT won’t” with “THEY won’t”, shall we?
        Just to be clear, I think MSU can beat Alabama and I can talk for hours as to what MSU will need to do to win what is sure to be a real battle next Saturday. I figured you being a sports writer would also have some perspective to share, but I was wrong…what we the readers got was a truly intuitive and mind blowing “No”. You do realize this is the biggest game for it, I mean our, program in over a decade?
        Second, the number 11 BCS team beats the number 1 BCS team…yeah MAJOR upset. Again, amazed with your insight and skilled writing abilities. Your attention to detail and true understanding of the size of the story in front of you is second to none sir. Kudos… the New York Times will be calling you soon.
        Good luck!

        • Brad Locke

          Yeah, when you say “MSU,” you then use the pronoun “it.” When you say Bulldogs, you then use “they.” That’s proper grammar. Thanks for reading.

  • Reason2succeed

    The question is why. Alabama has gotten the benefit of the doubt simply because they start off at number one in preseason polls. Since the beginning of the season most of the teams at the top of the poll have lost games. When answering questions like this people want to know why you feel that state doesn’t match up well against Bama.

  • The way I see it, Alabama’s greatest strength (OL) goes against our greatest weakness (DL). That is going to be a big problem for us. We can’t get any real pressure without blitzing, and our blitz will be picked up. Best bet is to rush only four most of the time and cross our fingers.

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