GREGG ELLIS:MSU week good, bad

STARKVILLE – One down. Three to go.

Weeks, that is. Until the first football game, just in case you haven't figured it out yet.

And Sylvester Croom will be the first to say his team needs every minute between now and Aug. 30 to get ready for Louisiana Tech.

But, hey, that's why the NCAA gives teams four weeks to prepare. Right?

Yep.

So, how was the first week, you ask?

All in all, I'd say not too bad. Not too great. Just a starting point.

But if you want the breakdown, here you go, starting with the positives. …

First, Anthony Dixon reported in far better shape than a year ago, which should bode well for another 1,000-yard season.

Second, the Bulldogs appear to be better off in the receiving corps than first imagined a few weeks back.

Aubrey Bell has really been impressive and has garnered quite a bit of praise from the coaching staff. Then there's Jamayel Smith, whom Croom said has established himself as the go-to guy. But don't forget about Co-Eric Riley and Brandon McRea. And if there's a newcomer to pay attention to, it's Delmon Robinson. Hardly a day has passed where Croom didn't talk about the impact of this true freshman.

Third, even though he's only a sophomore, quarterback Wesley Carroll has developed into quite the leader. He's garnered the respect from his teammates and has taken control of the huddle. And those are definitely two tangibles you want from your quarterback.

Fourth, even with key losses from a year ago it doesn't appear as though the defense has lost much of a step. It's a unit that has so far consistently swarmed to the ball, made tackles and forced turnovers.

The linebackers and secondary have been solid from day one, while redshirt freshman linebacker Jamie Jones has perhaps been the biggest surprise of camp so far. You're going to see a lot of him, as will opposing offenses.

Now, the not-so-positive news. Gotta be fair and balanced, right?

Well, let's start with the offense.

While there are some issues, I don't think fans need to go and find a cliff to jump off.

True, in Saturday's scrimmage the unit struggled to put points on the board. However, they did move the football and produced sustained drives.

But when it came to “gut check” times on fourth down and the goal line just inches away, Mississippi State couldn't finish the job.

Whether it was poor execution, a blocked field goal or Carroll tripping over his offensive linemen, those drives stalled without points.

Can't have that.

Second, the punting hasn't been nearly as consistent as Croom expected. However, he's not ready to hit the panic button just yet.

Third, the offensive line has to do a much better job of pass protection. Yielding seven sacks in a scrimmage isn't exactly encouraging.

Fourth, it was disturbing to learn All-SEC safety Derek Pegues has been suspended for the season opener because of a lack of discipline when it comes to attending class. Being a leader extends from the playing field, a lesson he's learned the hard way. Hopefully, it's a lesson the rest of his teammates learned as well.

Again, this team is just one week in as far as the season is concerned. That leaves three left to make the necessary corrections.

Now if that doesn't happen by Aug. 30, then there will be reason for concern.

Gregg Ellis (gregg.ellis@djournal.com) covers Mississippi State for The Daily Journal.

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