We're going to start this week a bit unusually, just because all those football practices at the end of last week put me a little behind. Plus, y'all asked a TON of questions in the Blog Bag this week, which is good. I believe I have some informative answers for you.
Q: Any chance of a blackout this year? How about different uniforms?
A: Highly doubt it. MSU might wear the black uniforms, but if it holds to form, we won't know about it until the day of. And MSU is 0-2 in those unis.
Q: Who do you think are the best receivers? One thru five will do.
A: In order: Chad Bumphis, Brandon Heavens, Arceto Clark, Chris Smith, Michael Carr. And Ricco Sanders is making a push to join that group.
Q: How do you see Carr being utilized this year?
A: He's backing up Clark at outside receiver, so you'll see him on the field a good bit in that role. Also expect him to work some on kickoff returns.
Q: I haven't heard much about cornerback Corey Broomfield. How's he progressing?
A: Well, Broomfield has been one of MSU's best defensive backs for a couple of years now. He'll be starting along with Johnthan Banks at cornerback and will be a key component of a secondary that's expected to be among the SEC's – and nation's – best. In fact, I'd say Broomfield is the best of the State DBs.
Q: Do you think Archie Muniz will be a factor in the offensive line rotation? What about Damien Robinson, the big kid from Olive Branch?
A: Right now, Muniz is backing up right tackle Addison Lawrence, while Robinson is behind right guard Tobias Smith. How much they play depends on the health and production of those in front of them, as line coach John Hevesy ideally doesn't like to have a heavy rotation. Lawrence is entrenched at his spot as a third-year starter, but Smith has had some health issues during his career. Guard was a fluid position last year anyway, so I'd give Robinson the edge over Muniz regarding playing time.
Q: How do we look with defensive ends?
A: Sean Ferguson had a good spring and is the de facto leader of that unit. Shane McCardell and Trevor Stigers are battling it out for the other end spot, and no telling who'll win that battle. End doesn't appear to be the strongest position for MSU, but defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Chris Wilson has a strong history of getting the most out of his linemen.
Q: Who is the strongest man on the team?
A: I tossed that question at strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis after a recent practice. His answer: "It's all relative. It's pound-for-pound."
Q: What game are you looking most forward to?
A: Tough to say, but the three that stand out are all home games: LSU (Sept. 15), South Carolina (Oct. 15) and Alabama (Nov. 12).
Q: What do you think, best case scenario, about State's chances to make it to Atlanta?
A: Those three games I just mentioned? Win them all.
Q: If MSU has an outstanding season, can you see MSU going to 3.5 million or so per year?
A: I assume you're talking about Dan Mullen's salary. He's going to average $2.65 million over the next four years, and no, I don't see it going that high, at least not immediately.
Q: Any chance we see a two-back set with Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins?
A: I believe we saw that some last year, so I'm sure we'll see it again.
Q: Do you see freshman receiver Joe Morrow as an impact player this year?
A: I think he could break into the rotation, although the receiver rotation is finally deep enough to where MSU might not have to use him this season. Bumphis, a junior, said this about Morrow earlier last week: "He runs good routes, and he's just long. He can stretch the defense vertically."
Q: Who do you think will get more playing time, Tyler Russell or Dylan Favre?
A: Russell, by a lot. He's the primary backup.
Q: Do you think the defense will be a pure attacking style of coverage or a healthy mixture?
A: I don't think it was a pure attacking style last year. It was certainly aggressive, but not at the expense of defending the pass. In fact, while the overall pass defense numbers for MSU weren't great last year, it did a good job not giving up huge passing plays most games.
Q: I know you don't do recruiting, but what do you think the chances are Nick James sticks with this early commitment?
A: Yeah, I'd keep an eye on him. James has told other news outlets that he still plans to visit other schools, and he doesn't sound 100 percent committed. I've tried without success to get James on the phone to ask him myself.
Q: Just how good does Nick Griffin look and how big of a role do you see him playing in the Bulldog offense this year?
A: Right now he's still rehabbing the ACL he had surgery on in the spring. He's not practicing and isn't even a part of the 105-man roster (he will be once classes begin Aug. 17). I'd be surprised if he played this year, and if he does, it probably won't be until the second half of the season. Tell you what, though, he looks like an SEC tailback in shorts in a T-shirt.
Q: How does Chris Relf's arm strength compare to that of Tim Tebow or Alex Smith?
A: That's a question I didn't get to ask Mullen, but I don't think Smith has ever been known for his arm strength (but then, I've rarely seen him play). Tebow, on the other hand, has a rocket arm. Relf is strong, too, but I don't know if he's as strong as Tebow.
Q: In watching Devin Jones play DT last year I noticed that the guy has one heck of a motor on him but he is more the size of a DE. Has there been any consideration on moving him over if needed?
A: Jones told me he has been working at both tackle and end and is willing to play wherever the coaches want him. So expect to see him at both spots this fall. I had a good chat with Jones the other day and will have more on him this week.
Q: How likely is it for us to take 9 of the 12 from the Dandy Dozen?
A: The Dandy who? Oh, that thing that other newspaper does. No idea.
Q: Baseball: What did the recruiting class rank this season?
A: There have been no rankings for this incoming class yet. We'll probably hear something on that after Aug. 15, the deadline for drafted players to sign. (H/t to baseball guru Matthew Stevens.)
Q: Basketball: Is Renardo Sidney coming back?
A: Yeah, that's been established. He's in Houston right now working out while the rest of the team plays exhibition games in Europe, but Sidney will be a key part of the team this season. In theory.