April 7, 2012 9:20:01 AM
STARKVILLE - Without further ado:
Item No. 1 - Mississippi State football news -
The defense was embarrassed at its performance in the first scrimmage and the veterans of this Mississippi State University football defense weren't about to allow this to happen Friday afternoon for the scrimmage that consisted of over 140 plays.
Despite the final stretch in a two-minute offense situation, the first-team offense was unable to consistently move the football and was held to just three touchdowns throughout the scrimmage.
"Not real pleased with the offense today (because) I want to see cleanliness and consistency but on four of our first 13 drives we had more than one first down," Mullen said. "That's not moving the ball and playing the field position game. Obviously the defense dominated today."
Mullen and Koenning was less than impressed with the performance of junior quarterback Tyler Russell and the goal for them is to reign the former Parade All-American in and make him use his checkdown options instead of trying to find the deep ball on nearly every occasion.
"I think now as I'm matured I'm able to sit back and say 'look Tyler it's first down, what do you want to do right here?'," Russell said. "On second down, let's go ahead and take a shot. If you don't get it then it's third down and five. It's all about managing the game."
Russell and backup quarterback Dak Prescott had a pair of touchdown passes including Russell finding Jameon Lewis on a crossing pattern for a 15-yard score.
"(Tyler) was thinking and trying to just play and not be a leader out there today," Mullen said.
The defensive line seemingly found itself in the backfield on most plays making the MSU offensive line looked confused and blown off the football on most plays. Even on large pass plays, MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning said they might go down as minus plays because of how long the ball stayed in the quarterbacks hand or would've been sacks in a game in which the signal callers were allowed to be touched.
"(Tyler gets to where he wants to take a big play and you just have to be patient," Koenning said. "It's about moving the football, getting first downs and taking your shots when you get them. You can't take a shot every time. If you take a shot every time, it's feast or famine."
Item No. 2 - Mississippi State baseball news -
For the Mississippi State baseball team, it was a Good Friday indeed.
The Bulldogs won a third straight Southeastern Conference series opener with a 7-4win over Vanderbilt Friday night at Dudy Noble Field. MSU ushered in the Easter holiday weekend with Chris Stratton's seventh pitching win of the season and closer Caleb Reed's seventh save.
MSU improved to 19-11 overall and 4-6 in conference play, while Vanderbilt fell to12-18 and 3-7. The Bulldogs snapped a six-game losing streak to the Commodores here at home. With victories over Arkansas, Auburn and now Vanderbilt, MSU makes it three straight series-opening wins for the first time since beating Kentucky, Arkansas and LSU on successive weekends in 2007.
"Chris was excellent tonight," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "The biggest play may have been on a bunt attempt. Chris makes an incredible athletic move to make the catch. Caleb then comes through and totally shuts them down."
The Bulldogs built an early 6-1 lead with two runs in the first inning and four more scores in the third inning. Stratton carried that hefty lead until the sixth inning when the Commodores struck for three scores.
Reed faced two batters past the minimum while throwing three innings of shutout relief.
In the first inning, Adam Frazier opened the game with a leadoff single. Tyler Fullerton followed with a walk. After a pair of outs, Wes Rea followed with a two-run single.
In the third inning, Mitch Slauter reached as a hit batsman. C.T. Bradford followed with a base hit, which chased VU starter Kevin Ziomek. New pitcher Drew VerHagen was reached for back-to-back run-producing hits by Wes Rea and Daryl Norris.
Norris,the Bulldog designated hitter, returned to the lineup for the first time since March 7. His return included a pair of hits and an RBI.
The Bulldogs will face arguably its most talented pitcher in freshman right-hander Tyler Beede today as the Commodores 18-year-old turned down $2.5 million as the 21st overall pick from Toronto Blue Jays.
Here's the scouting report I got from Baseball America national writer Aaron Fitt:
"At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Beede has an ideal pitcher's frame. Throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot, he pitches at 88-93 mph and touches 95. He has good arm speed on his changeup, and he has a firm curveball that's average but has good shape. Beede is also developing a slider, though he hasn't used it in game action. There were concerns about his mechanics and arm action in the past, but he has smoothed them out this year, repeating his delivery well and getting good extension out front. Beede has advanced command, feel and offspeed stuff, and scouts are impressed with his approach to the game. He has committed to Vanderbilt and could be a tough sign.
"His bread and butter is his changeup, and he's getting used to pitching with his fastball more," pitching coach Derek Johnson said. "Once he does that, his velocity will spike. I'm not worried about his velocity. I thought the breaking ball was just a very average third pitch when he got to us, but I think it's a much more usable pitch now. It's a true curveball; he's worked hard on it. He's got everything but experience. No matter how good a lot of these guys are coming in, it's still a new thing for them. The adjustment to college, the adjustment to even things behind baseball, are things guys have to get accustomed to. He's obviously very talented, and he'll have to learn on the fly a little bit. We'll put him in that position right away because we think he's that type of kid that can handle it."
Item No. 3 - Mississippi State softball news -
Fayetteville, Ark. - Good Friday turned into a great Friday at Bogle Park as the Mississippi State softball team (21-18, 5-13 SEC) swept host Arkansas (18-18, 2-14 SEC) in an afternoon doubleheader. The Bulldogs defeated the Razorbacks in the first game of the three-game series, 2-1, before clinching the series with a 7-2 triumph in game two.
"Anytime we can earn wins on the road in this conference, it says a lot about the heart and grit of these Bulldogs," MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We played two quality games today, including having our backs against the wall in the first matchup. I am super proud of our ballclub."
Junior left-handed pitchers Stephanie Becker and Kylie Vry combined to throw two complete-game three-hitters, striking out 17 total batters en route to just three Arkansas runs Friday. State's defense was flawless, playing errorless softball for the fourth time in the past five contests. Arkansas' defense on the other hand committed five errors on the day, with six of the nine runs being scored off its pitching being unearned.
Vry had improved to an even 6-6 in 2012 with her best outing since a complete-game two-hitter at South Carolina on March 13. The southpaw from Iowa tossed complete-game three-hitter that saw her give up two runs on two to the first three batters, before giving up just one hit the rest of the game. After fanning nine batters total in her previous seven outings, Vry struck out a season-high 11 Friday.
MSU is now riding its longest winning streak (5) against Arkansas since winning five in a row from 2005-06, and will go for its second-straight three-game sweep against the Razorbacks 12 p.m. CT, Saturday, April 7. The Bulldogs will look to sweep the Hogs for the second-straight year.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
4. A Stone's Throw: Waving flags COLUMNS