By Gregg Ellis
STARKVILLE – Just this time a week ago, Derek Ambrose was boiling over with excitement about the opportunity to return to his home state of Louisiana to face Tulane.
Seconds into the game, though, his excitement turned into disappointment.
On the opening kick off, the running back from New Orleans tore the ACL in his right knee, an injury that has more than likely cost him the season.
“It's a longshot,” Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said of Ambrose's chances of returning.
Ambrose, who said last week he was dedicating the season to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, was coming off an impressive outing against Auburn, where he rushed for a game-high 41 yards on just six carries.
His performance was solid enough that he moved to second on the depth chart behind Jerious Norwood.
“It's a major loss for us,” Croom said. “But I'll say this. He tried to get up and finish the play. That's great heart. A lot of guys would not have gotten up.”
“I'm disappointed for Derek. He's come a long way. He didn't get off to the best start early, but he persevered.”
A decision whether to seek a medical redshirt will be made at the end of the season, Croom said.
He also noted sophomore Jonathan Lowe is now No. 2on the depth chart.
n A week after being named the Southeastern Conference's defensive player of the week, senior defensive end Willie Evans said that wasn't satisfying enough.
“That was last week. This is this week,” he said. “I've got to come back and get it again.”
The Waynesboro native recorded 10 and three sacks, both career highs.
“He played a very good game,” Croom said.
n Dating back to the spring, the offensive line has been criticized from every angle, mainly due to a lack of experience and sacks allowed last year.
But the thing Croom said he looks at the most is sacks.
And for the second time this season against Tulane, MSU quarterbacks weren't sacked once, as was the case against Murray State in the season opener.
“That is very positive,” Croom said. “I don't worry about us running the football. If there is a crack, Jerious Norwood will find it. Where I do get worried is in our protections and making sure we can throw the football.
“We have to be able to run the football, but when we do get in a situation where we have to throw the football, our protection has to hold up. If we can give Omarr (Conner) some time, he is going to be able to complete some passes.
n MSU is 23-29-3 in SEC home openers since 1933. … Georgia leads the series against MSU 14-5. The last meeting was in 1997, won 47-0 by Georgia. State's last win came in 1974, 38-14 in Jackson. … In games played on ESPN2, MSU is 5-12. … The Bulldogs are 0-2 against UGA in televised games. … MSU is looking for its first 3-1 start since 2000. … Quarterback Blake Barnes of Baldwyn, a former Daily Journal player of the year, is the only UGA player from Mississippi. … Jerious Norwood now has 2,347 career yards and is just 474 yards shy from becoming the school's all-time leading rusher, a 30-year old record held by Walker Packer (2,820).