September 14, 2017 7:14:49 AM
The Mailbag continues to pick up steam, and for that, I thank you that sent in questions. This is the most fun I have all week (hold your jokes about the sad life of a sports writer). Let's open this up with a few answers in rapid-fire style before we get to the thinkers of the group.
A parody account I didn't know existed, @WawlFinebaum: "Why do LSU fans smell like corn dogs and how many can Coach O eat in one sitting?"
I've pissed off enough Louisianans recently (long story) so I'm not touching that first one, but let's get to this second one. In following the tweets from Ed O's radio show this week, the man apparently eats at TJ Ribs in Baton Rouge twice a week. I've been there; that's not an easy plate to tackle. And this dude does it twice a week? I'm going to say, no side items in the way, Ed O could throw down 11 corn dogs, and probably wash it down with a Coke. (Actually isn't he a freak about Monster Energy drinks? Yeah, let's go with that.)
Hi there, @FauxYouToo: "So is Etling any better than he was last year because he looked like hot garbage last year."
You can call this a non-answer if you want, but the truth is: we'll probably find out Saturday night. For all of BYU's struggles this season, that defense remains solid and Etling didn't do much to blow the top off that thing (although there is something to be said for 14-17 passing). He blew the top off the UT Chattanooga defense, for sure, but....UT Chattanooga. We get our answer on Saturday.
SHOUTOUT TO THE HOMIE @CRISTILMETHOD. Which position group v. position group matchup is most critical for a MSU win?
Give me MSU's defensive ends/outside linebacker v. LSU's tackles/tight ends. This LSU run game is based primarily on formational leverage and runs that can hit the B gap (between tackles and centers) -- tight ends have a big role in that formational leverage and, combined with the tackles, play big roles in those common B gap runs (power and counter, for instance). If MSU's guys like Montez Sweat, Gerri Green, etc., can routinely bust up blocks and mess up the play before the lead blocker can even get going, MSU's got a shot at bottling this thing up. If those guys get beat at the point of attack....well, have you seen how Stanford sometimes runs for like 350 yards on people? This is why.
To go off-field with it, @jcdickinson32 wants to know what I'm looking for in terms of atmosphere in a hyped night game at Davis Wade.
Hear me out: pregame. Seriously. Every electric game I've ever been to, that feeling of something big happening always started outside the stadium, walking around it to find the right gate. In my experience, that almost always follows folks inside the stadium. So that's what I want to see: this game has every reason to get people really hyped up just by being on campus, and I want to see what I feel when I walk amongst the people in that setting.
We take a break from football for two very important questions. First, from Jace Leachman (@jaceleachman15) - peanut butter, crunchy or creamy?
This is a bit of bildungsroman for me. As a child, I despised peanut butter with anything in it. Absolutely refused to eat it. Then somewhat recently, in the last year and a half or so, I got in the habit of making two biscuits, one with peanut butter and one with syrup or honey, for breakfast somewhat regularly. My wife one day mistakenly got crunchy peanut butter one day. I started off just soldiering through it to not waste the money; by the end of the jar I was telling her to get crunchy again. Long story short, crunchy.
Next from @10RobertWilliam: What's the best adult cartoon show? The Simpsons, Family Guy and Rick and Morty were the ones he mentioned.
This is one of my favorite genres of television, actually. My favorites right now are, in no particular order for the moment: Family Guy, Archer, Rick and Morty and Bob's Burgers. (I also love South Park, but it's hard to throw them into this group since that's a pretty different style.) At one point Archer would've been my leader in the clubhouse, but the most recent season (Archer Dreamland) did not impress me at all. I'm only like 10 episodes into Rick and Morty (it's a new addition for me, clearly) and I'm very much an avid Bob's Burgers fan.
Alright, I've dodged it enough, let me rank these bad boys: Bob's Burgers/Rick and Morty are tied at the top, ahead of Archer and Family Guy. I'm still not up to date on either of those shows at the top, so it's hard to discern one from the other.
Combining two questions from loyal Mailbag participants, shoutout to Rob and J.C., to hit the same point. @jcdickinson32 and @10RobertWilliam: What's the X-Factor here?
Aside from the LSU tight ends/tackles v. MSU defensive ends/outside linebackers matchup I touched on earlier in the mailbag, let's talk about MSU's offensive line from guard to guard. LSU's big-time defensive tackle, Rashard Lawrence, seems unlikely to play in this game, so if MSU can get a huge game from left guard Daryl Williams, center Elgton Jenkins and right guard Deion Calhoun in dominating the middle, MSU has a fair shot at owning that oh so pivotal piece of real estate.
When you run spread option stuff like Mississippi State does, a significant portion of your running back tracks on those options plays is going to dive right in the middle. Orgeron has already made a public priority of containing Nick Fitzgerald's legs: so, if LSU stays home to contain Fitzgerald and those guards dominate inside, that gives folks like Aeris Williams to gouge LSU for five, six, seven yards right up the middle. That's the best way I know to ruin any defensive plan.
Jared Bailey (@IamBailey8) gives me a thinker: Has the success of Dan Mullen put more pressure on other SEC coaches to succeed?
The short answer to this is no, because let's be real with each other: Southeastern college football fans don't need help putting pressure on their head coaches to win. But there is more nuance to it.
I'm not sure that it's impacted SEC schools and their perception of what is possible: almost all of them, with the exception of Kentucky, have a relatively recent memory of success that could be established as the program's ceiling -- Petrino years at Arkansas, present day Alabama, Auburn's national title game appearances, Vanderbilt in the James Franklin years, etc. I do think Mullen's success makes programs outside of the conference evaluate what the Mullen plan would be at their school. Mullen makes MSU work by getting the best the state has to offer more times than not, mining the JUCO ranks when applicable and filling it out with the guys Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, etc., overlook. Because of Mullen, they might see that, come to a decision that their program's ceiling is a win or two higher than what their coach is doing and part ways: N.C. State and Nebraska, for instance.
Speaking of thinkers, this one was tough. @MSUmaroon: Better stat for State Saturday, running for 175+ yards or holding Derrius Guice to 75 yards or less?
It took me a while to reach the conclusion, but I settled on State with 175+. My reasoning: there are several scenarios in which Guice can run for 75+ and LSU can still be held to something like 10 points, but if MSU runs for 175 yards, it's seems quite unlikely that MSU scores fewer than 24 points, which just might be enough to win. (It sure has been in the past.)
Last one, it's Ryan Nelson (@ryannel76) with a really, really good one: Have you ever snuck into a building undetected?
That depends: Does Bryant-Denny Stadium count?
Some of you know, but now all of you will: I got my degree from Alabama. My freshman year, hanging out with my roommate (who I'm still friends with to this day but he's serious about online security, so I won't name him) and we take our longboards around campus. (It's a long skateboard better used for simple transportation than tricks and such, Google it.) The pavement around Bryant-Denny was choice material for this activity, so we took to it.
In riding around, we could hear people working around the stadium, not sure why, and noticed that a gate was left cracked open. Looked at each other, didn't say a word and knew exactly what was about to happen: you see, the corners of Bryant-Denny are adorned with large spiral ramps that go all the way up to the upper deck. You can see why an 18-year-old with a skateboard might be interested in such a ramp.
Now, to show how we were such dangerous rebels: we successfully entered Bryant-Denny, headed off in the direction toward the ramp a few paces, heard the voice of some worker -- not even addressing us, almost certainly unaware of our presence -- and ran off.
So, there you go. That's the story of the time and friend and I successfully entered and exited Bryant-Denny Stadium when not allowed and were never detected. For all of 10 seconds.