STARKVILLE -- After lighting up the scoreboard against a woeful Memphis defense this past Saturday, much was expected in Act 2 of Mississippi State's burgeoning passing game. But on Thursday, the curtain came down on the aerial attack as soon as it took off when Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf had his first pass dropped by wideout Chad Bumphis. Relf was off-targed on throws to several receivers, but wasn't aided by five drops, the final going through the hands of Leon Berry on the second-to-last play of the game in a 17-14 loss to Auburn.
STARKVILLE -- Auburn overcame its own missed chances and a resilient Mississippi State defense to escape Starkville with a 17-14 win Thursday night. The anticipated shootout between two of the league's highlight offenses from Week 1 never materialized, as both offenses were held under 350 yards.
Auburn visits Mississippi State looking to replicate the same offensive performance from their Week 1 blowout of Arkansas State. The Bulldogs' offense was just as efficient and explosive in their opening-day 49-7 win over Memphis. Here's some quick keys for MSU winning tonight's game.
Cameron Newton called it "probably one of the hardest decisions I've made in my recent life." It went beyond telling one of his closest mentors since high school, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, that he would sign with Auburn University instead of MSU this past winter.
STARKVILLE -- Cameron Newton gouged Arkansas State with runs and passes in an impressive debut as Auburn's starting quarterback. The former Dan Mullen pupil and Tim Tebow understudy at Florida had five total touchdowns and 357 combined yards in his first start as an FBS quarterback. Mississippi State's defense isn't naïve enough to think it'll shut down the Auburn quarterback or the dynamic skilled players around him in Thursday night's game at Scott Field.
It isn't hard to distinguish between Will Goodwin and the other students at Itawamba Community College. The freshman from Starkville Academy is the one being chauffeured in a golf cart across the Fulton campus from football practice to soccer practice. Goodwin is the lone kicker on Coach Jon Williams' football team and a forward on Coach Mike Sullivan's soccer team, and being escorted on a golf cart makes it easier for him to get to both team's practices.
STARKVILLE -- Tyler Russell's advent into college football was a reprieve for his lackluster play in Mississippi State's spring game.
STARKVILLE -- Brandon Heavens is no longer a secret. The sophomore wide receiver, who played sparingly last season, broke out Saturday with a five catch, 112-yard performance in the Mississippi State football team's 49-7 victory against Memphis.
STARKVILLE -- Efficient through the air and on the ground, Mississippi State ran riot Saturday in its season-opening 49-7 win over the University of Memphis. The Bulldogs racked up 569 yards of total offense, and redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Russell tossed four touchdown passess in his MSU debut.
STARKVILLE -- With a short-week of preparation for Thursday's matchup with Auburn, Mississippi State needed to have a thorough performance against Memphis. The Bulldogs got it on both sides of the ball Saturday, but it was their defensive pressure in first-year coordinator Manny Diaz's system that helped add to the point total and lay the groundwork for Gus Malzahn and Auburn's dynamic offense.
When the Mississippi State and University of Memphis football teams square off Saturday, they'll do so with similar situations at quarterback. Memphis will debut first-year starter and sophomore Cannon Smith, whom first-year head coach Larry Porter hopes will play well enough to help the Tigers avoid having to use a multi-quarterback carousel like they did last season. MSU has a slight advantage, as junior Chris Relf scored seven touchdowns and finished second on the team in rushing last season.
Jon Williams wants to see how much his players have invested in this season. The first-year Itawamba Community College football coach will get to see how much his players have "bought in" to his system at 7 tonight when his team plays host to Hinds C.C.
STARKVILLE -- Transitioning into game-week, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has decided to give his players more time to focus on Saturday's season opener against Memphis. That decision meant less time for media interviews for some, and none for the majority of the Bulldogs, who kick off the season Saturday against Memphis.
SCOOBA -- Devin Hawkins learned a lot in his first season at East Mississippi Community College. Not only did he get stronger and quicker, but he gained a new appreciation for junior college football. But all of that improvement was nearly wiped out earlier this year. In April, Hawkins thought he had a stomach virus while training in practice. Whatever the ailment, it was bad enough that it made him unable to complete his work.
Some players might take 100 percent for granted. But it's easy to believe nothing can go wrong when you never have suffered a serious injury. Jackson State players Javarius Conner and Andre' Wright plan to show people this season what they can do when they finally are fully recovered. They might not be there yet, but the former Noxubee County High School standouts intend to make a statement at some point this season.
STARKVILLE -- Shrouded in mystery Monday at Mississippi State football press conference was quarterback Chris Relf, who wasn't present but was the hot topic ahead of the team's season opener against the University of Memphis at 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU) at Davis Wade Stadium.
STARKVILLE -- For every stud freshman who takes college football by storm, there are five times as many first-year players who won't see the game field for at least a year. The process of using a "redshirt" year is common in all sports, as student-athletes are allowed five years to play four. Athletes can use a redshirt season for a variety of reasons and at any year of their eligibility, though in football it's most commonly used for an injury or in a player's first year on campus. In football, where physical development is exponentially vital because of the contact involved in the sport, a freshman has a 50 percent chance of seeing the field. Roster counts at certain positions, injuries to other players, and a player's ability to transition quickly to a deeper playbook and older athletes factor into a coach's decision to redshirt a player.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Judy Green doesn't want any pageantry. The veteran University of Alabama volleyball coach would prefer to see her players bask in the glow of their achievements in her final season at the school. To do that, the Crimson Tide will have to erase the memory of a disappointing 2009 season. If they can, the players will send Green out in style. Green will begin her 15th and final season at Alabama at 7 tonight when her team plays Iowa at the Hawkeye Challenge. She announced in January she planned to retire at the end of the season.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen isn't releasing any details about his depth chart as his team gets closer to its season opener against the University of Memphis at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 (ESPNU). But there was one post-practice nugget Wednesday that shed some light into the team's most experienced group.
STARKVILLE -- Ashley Newsome doesn't like the spotlight. The Mississippi State senior wouldn't mind if she is just another piece to the puzzle as long as her team wins.
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