Blog Bag Answers: Linemen, Carr, Norris, Recruiting, and Much More

Hey, y’all, it’s that time of week. You asked questions for the Blog Bag, and I have some answers. I hope you find them satisfactory. Lot of football and baseball talk, so let’s get to it.


Q: Has Will Redmond been cleared by the NCAA yet? Will we ever hear back from that?

A: It’s not necessarily a matter of “clearing” Redmond, the redshirt defensive back who’s at the center of an investigation into MSU’s recruiting tactics – namely, the recruiting tactics of former receivers coach Angelo Mirando. It’s just that if MSU plays Redmond and then the NCAA finds he did something that deems him ineligible, MSU might have to forfeit games in which he played.

As for when this case will re resolved, I don’t know. We were told in August that this probe was nearing its conclusion, but as I’ve said before, the NCAA clock moves much more slowly than everyone else’s clock.

Q: Will the O-line allow Tyler Russell time to find the young receivers without getting injured, and will the D-line pressure enough to help our young secondary?

A: That first question is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? If the offensive line – mainly, the tackles – can improve the pass protection from last year, then I believe Russell can have a huge year. I didn’t see much in spring to give me confidence that the tackles will be markedly better, although Dan Mullen on Wednesday said they were a “strong point” of the offense.

As for the defensive line, yes, I believe they will be able to generate more pressure than last year. Senior Denico Autry should have a big year, and he’ll have plenty of help from the likes of Preston Smith, Ryan Brown, and P.J. Jones. And you’re going to see blitzes coming from the linebackers and defensive backs, too, because defensive coordinator Geoff Collins wants to be in full attack mode. Defensive mayhem, as he calls it.

Q: I didn’t get to watch the spring game, but I like what I’ve heard about the offenses of both squads. Was the offense just making great plays, or did the defense really do that bad? 700-plus yards isn’t a good sign.

A: Well, don’t put much stock in spring game stats. In fact, don’t put any stock in them. I mean, 65 of those yards came on a “touchdown” pass to former Bulldog tailback Anthony Dixon. The offense should be fine, though, and again, the offensive tackle play is a huge key to that.

The defense did fine in the spring game, and I think it will be a real strength of this team. The cornerback position is the one real question mark, but I like the talent and depth MSU has there.

Q: Has Tobias Smith made a decision yet about coming back next year? Is there an expected timeline?

A: No official decision has been made, but Smith – an oft-injured offensive guard who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA – didn’t practice in the spring. He instead served as a graduate assistant, and I know he has at least a couple of job opportunities on the table. I’d be surprised if he played any more football.

Q: What is the status of Michael Carr? Has he practiced this spring?

A: Carr, who left the team in 2011, has been back since January and participated fully in spring drills. He worked mostly with the scrubs, but he did enough things to remind us just how good of an athlete he is. Whether he gets on the field this fall is another matter, but it was thought during Carr’s first go-round at MSU that he would eventually play a prominent role on offense. That’s still possible, I just don’t know how quickly he’ll be able to shoot up the depth chart.

Q: If you could only pick one guy on each side of the ball, who do you think will be the outstanding player on the offense and defense this season?

A: Gotta go with Russell on offense. He’s a fifth-year senior who had a solid 2012 season, the last two games notwithstanding. He generally makes good decisions, knows the offense inside and out, is resourceful with the weapons he has, and can make tough throws in key moments.

On defense, Autry is a guy who could have a monster year, based on what we saw toward the end of last season. I expect the senior will draw some double teams this fall, but that can make him just as effective, because it would free up some other very good players, who’ve I’ve already mentioned.

Q: What is up with Darryl Norris, I thought going into the season that he was going to be the man at third base. Has he been hurt or has he been just out-competed?

A: The junior has played in 25 of 43 games with 22 starts, and he’s made 20 starts at third base, which is more than anyone else on the team at that position. But yes, he is sharing time there with Sam Frost (11 starts) and Alex Detz (10 starts). That’s mostly a product of John Cohen having a host of options at third base, first base, DH, and elsewhere.

Norris is batting .250 this season, while Detz his hitting .299 and Frost .292.

Q: What happened to Evan Mitchell? Should we expect Luis Pollorena to keep the Friday job until tournament time? Will Jonathan Holder keep closing, or could he possibly start?

A: Mitchell, as you may recall, was pulled from the starting rotation after failing to record an out against Kentucky on March 23. His next appearance was Tuesday, when he started at Memphis. The senior pitched one-plus inning, allowing no hits but walking four. So for now, Pollorena remains the Friday starter. And Holder will never, ever start.

Q: In your opinion does MSU have what it takes to win the College World Series from what you’ve seen up to this point?

A: To this point, no. MSU simply hasn’t played at a consistently high level the way teams like North Carolina, LSU and Vanderbilt have. However, if State continues upon its current trajectory – 10 wins in its last 12 games – and if certain things fall the right way, I could certainly foresee an appearance in the eight-team CWS. And once you reach Omaha, anything can happen.

Q: Of the baseball signees, who is most likely to sign a professional contract instead of attending MSU? Am I correct in believing that Cohen does a good job of signing guys who are likely to end up on campus?

A: I admit, baseball recruiting is not something I stay on top of, but my pal Matthew Stevens of the Columbus Commercial Dispatch does. As to the second question, Matt said, “I believe John, Butch Thompson and the rest of the staff do a solid job of identifying talent that will arrive on campus and then not being surprised during the June draft. I also think John and Butch are in a solid spot because Mississippi high school talent is underrated by pro scouts because it’s not seen as a talent-rich area like Georgia, Florida, Memphis, etc.” So yes, Cohen has done a very good job of getting guys on campus.

As for your first question, MSU no longer releases its signing class, but the here are the November signees that we know of: P/OF Reid Humphreys, Northwest Rankin; RHP Austin Sexton, Sparkman, Ala.; RHP Dakota Hudson, Dunlap, Tenn.; LHP Vance Tatum, Southaven; RHP/C Ben Hudspeth, Tupelo/ICC; LHP Glenn Irby, Florence, Ala.; OF Jake Vickerson, Shelton State CC (Ala.); RHP Zach Houston, Poplarville; and C Gavin Collins, Lake Forest, Calif.

Stevens said the only real question mark among that group as far as getting to campus is Collins, who’s a very good hitter.

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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