November 3, 2012 9:13:08 AM
STARKVILLE - Good morning from Davis Wade Stadium. The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog is LOOKING LIVE.....at the stadium in Starkville, for a prime matchup as the No. 17 Bulldogs host No. 16 Texas A&M University.
Here's what we're going to do for our pre-game blog: The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog is going to review all the material we've assembled for you this week in our print edition.
NOTE: Be sure to bookmark this page as we'll continue to update this post throughout the day until kickoff as news continues to flow out about pre-game news for either team tonight. However, I'm told this afternoon by MSU officials that significant roster moves are not expected.
MONDAY - MSU football feature - Tyler Russell overcomes pounding in MSU's loss to Alabama http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=19924#ixzz2BAUxC9nG
MSU football feature - MSU football notebook: Dan Mullen vows changes on special teams http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=19926
TUESDAY - MSU football feature - MSU freshman Brandon Holloway doing best Johnny Manziel impersonation http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=19965
WEDNESDAY - MSU football notebook - Mullen: Texas A&M defense 'underrated' http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=19974
THURSDAY - MSU football feature - We look into the friendly rivalry of MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=19977
1. Can Mississippi State University manage to control Texas A&M
University quarterback Johnny Manziel?
No. 17 MSU (7-1, 3-1 in SEC play) may revert Saturday to the game plan
for the 2011 Gator Bowl matchup with the University of Michigan and
their athletic quarterback Denard Robinson.
The plan at the bowl game in Jacksonville, which MSU won 52-14, was to
keep the Wolverines quarterback around the pocket and not let Robinson
scramble to create chaos in the Bulldogs backfield. The result was 313
total yards by Robinson (254 passing, 59 rushing) but two turnovers
and Michigan being 2-for-10 on third downs with its then-freshman
"He's a lot like (former MSU quarterback) Dylan Favre and Denard
Robinson because on a play where a quarterback may throw it away,
(Manziel) may try to force something that's not there because of his
athletic ability," MSU senior safety Corey Broomfield said.
Last week Manziel, who also leads the SEC in rushing, ran for three
touchdowns and passed for two more in a little more than a half of
play as the Aggies beat a struggling Auburn University team 63-21
2. How does MSU manage to get over an emotionally crippling loss at
No. 1 University of Alabama?
The gauge to the resiliency of this Bulldogs squad will be tested this
week. Immediately after the 38-7 loss to No.1 Alabama, we heard the
MSU team captains take responsibility for the turnaround in practice
the next week.
"This is on us to make sure the rest of the team stays focus and
allows us to not slack off as we prepare for the rest of the season,"
MSU senior linebacker Cam Lawrence said.
In his weekly teleconference with local media, MSU head coach Dan
Mullen didn't hesitate to call this weekend's game against No. 16
Texas A&M University (6-2, 3-2 in Southeastern Conference) as "the
biggest game for us of the year".
"There are dominant teams in this conference, but there's a lot of
them, so you know that during the course of your schedule you're going
to have to play a stretch run at some point, and week in and week out
you're going to have to play great teams back-to-back-to-back-to-back
even at times during the course of the year," Mullen said Sunday in
his weekly teleconference.
3. Can MSU manage to find a way to block the SEC's leader in sacks?
The Aggies are led by a junior defensive end that is considered one of
the top pass rushing options possibly available for the 2013 National
Football League Draft. In the risk-reward system A&M operates on
defense, Damontre Moore has accumulated 18 tackles for loss and 10.5
sacks this season - which leads the SEC in both categories.
"People say (there's) an adjustment to the league," Mullen said.
"That's what this league's known for is having that athleticism on the
defensive side of the ball. They fit right in that mold of being an
extremely athletic and extremely fast defense. It's probably the most
underrated defense in the league."
4. Does MSU protect the football better and cause some turnovers on defense?
MSU came into the game Saturday not only undefeated but leading the
nation in turnover margin at plus-16 through the first seven games of
the 2012 season. Alabama ended the night plus-3 in that statistical
category and therefore took home a 31-point victory. MSU can't hope to
find victory Saturday afternoon if they lose the turnover battle.
"The little things made a huge difference and the little things to me
come down to attention to detail," Mullen said after the loss. "In
these games, you have to have complete focus and execute at a high
level for 60 minutes. We obviously didn't do that."
5. Is MSU ready to take next step and win a game against a top tier SEC school?
Yes, this was the same last question as last week at Alabama. Why?
Well, the facts haven't changed much MSU is a six-point underdog.
Mullen has beaten one ranked teams in his last 11 tries while in
Starkville and that was a 10-7 victory over a Florida team that was
overrated and underperformed throughout the year. The last time MSU
defeated a ranked opponent in Starkville was the 2009 Egg Bowl rivalry
game against the University of Mississippi.
"One thing we've always stressed, to put yourself in a position to win
championships you have to win all your home games," Mullen said.
Players to Watch
Junior RB LaDarius Perkins
Perkins came into Bryant-Denny Stadium last week, the SEC's leading
rusher but after accumulating just 38 yards on 15 carries Saturday,
A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel took that title for him. Perkins became
just another tailback that was shut down by the Alabama
defensive front under defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.This can't
happen against A&M if MSU hopes to control the clock and win the
crucial time of possession battle for its defense trying to exert
energy chasing Manziel all over the field. When MSU doesn't rush for
over 100 yards, Dan Mullen is 0-6, while the Bulldogs have lost
Redshirt freshman LB Benardrick McKinney
McKinney, who is tied for the team lead in tackles with 59, is one of
several MSU linebackers that will have the responsibility throughout
the afternoon of spying Johnny Manziel in case he leaves the pocket or
dares to cross the line of scrimmage. The fellow linebackers like Cam
Lawrence, Deonte Skinner and Matthew Wells will have to keep the
Aggies freshman quarterback in front of them to have any chance to
avoid big plays.
Freshman QB Johnny Manziel
'Johnny Football' invades Starkville this weekend. The idea for the
MSU defense will be to force Manziel into mistakes that have led the
youthful A&M offense to be 12th in the SEC in turnover margin by
averaging nearly two giveaways a contest.
"The week before (against Louisiana State University), we had four
turnovers and lost and only scored 19 points," A&M offensive
coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said. "It's still week-to-week and it's a
growing process. We haven't come close to what I think we can become
with this group. It's still a bunch of young guys out there playing,
so if we just keep getting better and protect the football."
Junior DE Damontre Moore
Moore is fourth nationally with 10.5 sacks and also leads the SEC in
knockdowns and quarterback hurries. Moore ranks third in the Football
Bowl Subdivision with 1.31 sacks per game (101/2 total) and second in
tackles for loss with 2.25 a game (18 total).
Moore's presence was felt in none other than the one game this year he
was suspended for, at Louisiana Tech University, as the Bulldogs put
up 57 points and 450 yards in the air.
"When Coach Sumlin first got here, he was telling us how much time we
have left and I've only got two years left," Moore said. "I slacked
off enough as it is... I was just being immature and didn't have my
Nov. 28, 2009
The last time MSU has defeated a ranked team in Davis Wade Stadium. It
was the first Egg Bowl win for MSU head coach Dan Mullen as the
25th-ranked Rebels lost a 13-10 halftime lead thanks to four
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4. They Were All Very Merry at Pfaff's BOOK REVIEWS