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MSU NOTEBOOK: MSU kicking game has highs and lows

 

Matthew Stevens

 

STARKVILLE --┬áTaveze Calhoun agrees with the assertion of University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley that Mississippi State University's decision to pooch kick was a gamble. 

 

The Bulldogs freshman special team contributor and defensive back said the pooch kick by freshman Devon Bell was never executed better. 

 

"We practice the kick a lot and when your opportunity comes, you have to grab it," Calhoun said. "I was just wanting to make the tackle or force a fair catch. Devon kicked it perfect and then it just lands in my hands." 

 

Bell agrees because when asked if he's ever kicked the pooch attempt that well consistently, he smiled. 

 

"Hardly ever," Bell said with a laugh and a grin. 

 

Dooley said after the game that he questioned whether a team could put the football in that specific place more than "one in 100 times". 

 

Bell agrees with Dooley's assumption that the pouch kickoff is 

 

difficult but said the Tennessee receiving team looked "confused" when the ball was in the air. 

 

"I had no clue what the other team was trying to do to be honest," Bell said. "I just kicked it and then saw it was going to hit the 

 

ground. I thought if this ball hits the ground, we'll get it." 

 

The whole point of the pouch attempt from MSU's standpoint was to keep it out of the hands of Cordarrelle Patterson and the recovery was a bonus. 

 

"My job is to go straight to my landmark on the field for that play," 

 

Calhoun said. "That's the first time Devon has been perfect in hitting the landmark." 

 

Patterson was a point of contention for MSU after his 98-yard kickoff 

 

return for a touchdown in the second quarter. The junior receiver was the reason why the Bulldogs didn't send Bell on the field at the end of the game to kick a field goal and put MSU up six with less than 10 seconds left in the game. 

 

"I would've had to kick off to No. 84 again only up six," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. 

 

Bell said he didn't think the pouch kickoff that was recovered in the second quarter of the 41-31 victory against the Volunteers was executed perfectly when it left his foot. It's a play MSU practices, according to Bell, three to four times a week. 

 

"It was a little bit short coming off my foot and I didn't think it was very good initially but it turned out perfect," Bell said. "You got make it look like you're kicking it deep and I saw Calhoun just sprinting down the field so I thought, 'man we might recover this.' " 

 

The recovered kickoff set up MSU (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) for a four-play drive that Tyler Russell finished with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Green to give the Bulldogs a 27-14 halftime advantage. 

 

After the game, Dooley said to coaching in the press box due to his hip surgery made him feel "really disconnected" at times, especially during special teams plays. 

 

"It's really frustrating you can see something and you can't look guys in the eye and try to correct it," he said. "That's the hardest part." 

 

 

 

Bulldogs cutting out the mistakes 

 

MSU leads SEC in fewest number of penalties this season. In four years under Mullen, MSU has cut its number of infractions down by more than a penalty per game. 

 

"I think that has a lot to do with focus on a team," Mullen said. "When you start with the leadership involving the attention in practice. When you're prepared in practice, then you'll be locked in during a game. We need to continue to avoid those silly issues." 

 

MSU has 25 total this season. It committed one penalty for 10 yards against Tennessee. 

 

"In the long season, you have to get more focused," Mullen said. "That's one thing you look at in college football, you go through the 12-week period of a regular season, the teams that get through are the teams that manage to perform week in and week out. They don't come out and lose their focus on who they are a college football team." 

 

 

 

MSU to play No. 1 Alabama at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 

 

MSU could face the University of Alabama (6-0, 3-0) at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 (ESPN) in a battle of unbeatens if both teams take care of their business Saturday. 

 

The Bulldogs increased their longest winning streak in school history to tie the 1999 and 1918-19 teams that won eight in a row. The matchup against Alabama will feature of two of the five winningest programs in Division I college football. The Crimson Tide share the nation's longest winning streak (10) with the University of Oregon. MSU is next with eight consecutive victories. 

 

MSU has trailed for only 10 minutes, 19 seconds this season, while 

 

Alabama has only trailed for 15 seconds (in the victory against the University of Mississippi).

 

 

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