Mississippi State Preview |
So how much longer is it going to take to be respectable?
one questioned that Sylvester Croom had a huge mountain to climb
when he took over the program two seasons ago, and no one questioned
that it would take a few years to get things back on track. However,
with only nine wins over D-I teams in the last four years, you can
understand that Bulldog fans are more than ready to start seeing
some signs of life. Things should start to pick up this year.
Let's start with the positives. MSU knows it should be able to go
into every game with a puncher's chance against just about anyone
because of an experienced defense that was fantastic last year
considering the offense provided no support. The kicking game should
be terrific with the healthy return of placekicker Keith Andrews
along with the big leg of punter Blake McAdams. Unlike other
struggling teams in good conferences, the Bulldogs know they're
solid in at least two phases. And then there's the offense.
Head coach: Sylvester Croom
3rd year: (6-16)
Off. 21, Def. 24, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 19
Best Bulldog Players
1. LB Quinton Culberson, Sr.
2. FS Jeramie Johnson, Sr.
3. DT Deljuan Robinson, Sr.
4. NT Andrew Powell, Sr.
5. CB Derek Pegues, Soph.
6. TE Eric Butler, Jr.
OG Brian Anderson, Sr.
FB Bryson Davis, Sr. Jr.
WR Tony Burks,
P Blake McAdams, Soph.
at Ole Miss
2005 Record: 3-8
at Auburn L 28-0
at Tulane W 21-14
Georgia L 23-10
LSU L 27-7
at Florida L 35-9
at Kentucky L 13-7
Alabama L 17-0
at Arkansas L 44-10
Ole Miss W 35-14
It can't be any worse.
There's no way
possible a D-I offense can average 276 yards and fewer than 14
points per game two years in a row. It just can't. The offensive
line is sure to be better after struggling through injuries and
inexperience last year, and the receiving corps should be much
stronger with Omarr Conner's full-time switch from quarterback to
receiver and the addition of receiver Tony Burks. Fine, so the
running back situation is a bit dicey with the loss of Jerious
Norwood and quarterback Michael Henig has to prove he can complete a
pass on a regular basis, but there's hope for all the lumps taken
last year to pay off.
So now the question becomes
whether or not there will be any heat on Croom if
things don't start off well. An opening day SEC win over South
Carolina would do wonders to give the experienced, but young team
confidence going into an even tougher home date against Auburn ten
days later. That's two huge home games a program in its third year
under a head coach has to win, or at least battle well, if things
truly are headed in the right direction.
In reality for Croom, MSU has to flirt with a winning season and get
to a bowl game. There's no excuse to shoot for anything less with
its schedule and with all the returning experience, so for the first
time since around 2000, there should be expectations around
Schedule: As long as the Bulldogs win the ones they're supposed to,
six wins should be within range with games against Tulane, at UAB,
Jacksonville State and Kentucky. Can MSU win another Egg Bowl and win at
Ole Miss? Can there be an upset at home against South Carolina, Auburn,
and/or West Virginia? Expect at least one win that'll shock the SEC, and
one loss that'll deflate MSU's balloon.
Offensive Player: Junior TE Eric Butler. Tight end might be MSU's
strongest position led by the 250-pound Butler, who would shine if he
had a consistent quarterback to get him the ball. He's great at getting
in the end zone and needs to be used more as a safety valve to keep the
Quinton Culberson. The former defensive back turned into a fantastic
linebacker last year using his speed to be a playmaking machine in the
middle. He'll be the leader of an experienced defense that should be
tremendous all season long.
to a successful season: Sophomore QB Michael Henig. With Omarr
Conner moving to receiver full-time. there's no experience at
quarterback outside of Henig, who struggled mightily when thrown to the
wolves in his freshman year. He'll have to battle with two redshirt
freshmen to keep the gig, but the coaching staff appears to be ready to
sink or swim with him.
will be a success if ...
wins six games. The defense is too good and there are too many
improvements on offense to expect another losing season. The Bulldogs
won't battle for the SEC West title, but they should be the league's
jump-up team like Vanderbilt was last season, except with a better
August 31st vs. South Carolina. The Bulldogs can't expect to beat
Auburn meaning an 0-2 start is likely if they can't beat Steve
Spurrier's squad. A win in the opener gives hope right away for a
winning season and would be one of the program's biggest wins since
- Pass completion percentage: Opponents 61.4% - Mississippi State 48.3%
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 57 - Mississippi State 19
- Punt return average: Opponents 12.1 yards - Mississippi State 6.4
Time Mississippi State…
…played in a bowl game…2000 (Independence Bowl vs. Texas A&M)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…1999 (South Carolina)
…was shutout…2005 (Alabama)
…scored 50 points…2002 (Jacksonville State)
…won a conference title…1941 (SEC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…Never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Jerious Norwood)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1978 (Mardye McDole)
…had a first-round draft choice…1996 (DB Walt Harris and WR Eric