Like Dan Mullen at Mississippi State, Auburn University football coach Gene Chizik sees room for improvement for his team from week one. Chizik doesn’t know if the Tigers are ready to enter a Southeastern Conference game yet, but he’s anxious to find out how they play against the Bulldogs.
Phillip Dimino and Brett Spencer are used to battling the stopwatch. While their East Mississippi Community College teammates face off against 300-pound linemen or blitzing linebackers, time is the toughest adversary for Dimino and Spencer. When you kick the football in college, one or two tenths of a second can be the difference between getting off a successful punt or converting a field goal or extra point.
Mississippi College coach Norman Joseph promises his players if they stay in the program he’ll find a place for them to play. Demarcus Brooks is a believer. Brooks, a 2004 graduate of West Lowndes High School, has found a home on the offensive line as a his senior at Mississippi College.
STARKVILLE — It doesn’t surprise Chuck Friend or Bracky Brett that Travis Macon went into coaching. While Friend and Brett were coaching at Starkville High School, they got to watch Macon mature as a football player.
The bull’s eye on the back of the East Mississippi Community College football team grew even bigger Tuesday. Coming off season-opening victories against Copiah-Lincoln and Jones County, EMCC (2-0) moved up four places to No. 2 in the latest NJCAA/JC Football.com regular-season poll. The ranking is the program’s highest in National Junior College Athletic Association football in school history. EMCC, which plays host to Holmes C.C. (0-2) at 7 Thursday night at Sullivan-Windham Field, moved up in the poll after the first four teams lost.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s football program can be thankful for a high school field trip. Otherwise, Mississippi State might not have been able to sign quarterback Chris Relf. Relf grew up in Montgomery, Ala., a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He grew up 45 minutes away from Auburn, but the Tigers never recruited Relf.
STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State football team went back to business on Labor Day. Following a 45-7 victory against the Jackson State on Saturday, the Bulldogs practiced for one hour Monday morning. Even though it was considered a light day, practicing only in helmets, the Bulldogs addressed several areas.
STARKVILLE -- There were times all Mississippi State freshman wide receiver Chad Bumphis could do in preseason practice was jog. With a sprained foot, Bumphis wasn’t able to go full speed. But Bumphis was healthy and ready to go for the Bulldogs on Saturday. He showed Mississippi State coaches and fans what could be in store for the future with a pair of touchdown receptions in a 45-7 victory against Jackson State.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen likes the dimension sophomore quarterback Chris Relf’s running ability gives the spread offense. That’s why Mullen had no problem calling a running play for Relf at a critical moment of the first half of Saturday’s game against Jackson State.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State played Jackson State without senior running back Anthony Dixon on Saturday. Dixon served a one-game suspension as part of discipline for his arrest on a driving under the influence charge in July. He pled guilty in August to avoid a court date.
SCOOBA –– Preseason All-America quarterback Randall Mackey passed for two touchdowns and rushed for 77 yards to lead the No. 6 East Mississippi Community College Lions past Jones Community College 28-17 in its home opener Thursday at Sullivan-Windham Field. Mackey wasted no time moving the football down the field on the Lions’ first possession. Taking the ball on its 27, EMCC mixed two rushing plays by Mackey and passes of 10 and 14 yards to T.J. Ballou and Marcus McQuarley, respectively. Wide receiver Bill Franks hauled in a 36-yard pass to give the Lions’ a 6-0 lead with barely two minutes elapsed into the contest. Brett Spencer split the uprights for the extra point and a 7-0 lead.
STARKVILLE — There doesn’t appear to be a quarterback controversy between Mississippi State’s Tyson Lee, of Columbus, and Chris Relf. That doesn’t mean there’s not competition. Lee, the senior who started for the Bulldogs last season, and Relf, the sophomore, have worked in the spring and into fall camp to see who will get the most playing time in coach Dan Mullen’s spread offense.
It will be a game of firsts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU) when Mississippi State plays host to Jackson State. From a historical factor, the matchup is the first in football between teams from the Southeastern and Southwestern Athletic conferences. It also is the beginning of the coach Dan Mullen era at Mississippi State. Mullen said those two things add to the anticipation as kickoff nears.
Jackson State senior linebacker Marcus Jamison is looking forward to being part of history on Saturday. That’s the day Jackson State will play Mississippi State for the first time in school history. Jamison is eager to take the field for the game that will kick off at 2:30 p.m. at Mississippi State’s Scott Field and be aired on ESPNU. “I’m very excited,” Jamison said. “I’m so excited it will put a smile on my face. But I’ve got my game face on, too. I’m so excited. This game means a lot to me. It means a lot to Jackson, Miss.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State senior tailback Anthony Dixon skipped out to the practice field Tuesday afternoon and yelled out “let’s go.” The question remains, will Dixon be allowed to go for the Bulldogs on Saturday? It appears more and more that Dixon’s status will be a gametime decision for MSU football coach Dan Mullen.
STARKVILLE -- By growing up only 10-15 minutes away from the Jackson State campus, it would have been easy for Mississippi State senior offensive guard Craig Jenkins to stay home to play college football. It was also tempting because Jenkins had two cousins and two aunts go to school at Jackson State. On top of that, many of his friends from Pearl High School are in school at Jackson State.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State’s secondary did a decent job against the pass last season. The unit ranked fourth in the Southeastern Conference and 17th in the country in pass defense, only allowing 176.6 yards per game. The Bulldogs had a veteran presence in the secondary with the safety trio of Derek Pegues, Keith Fitzhugh and De’mon Glanton, and cornerback Jasper O’Quinn. The problem for MSU is they were all seniors last season. Senior cornerback Marcus Washington is MSU’s most experienced returning player in the secondary with 19 career starts. The rest of the unit has a grand total of two starts. Both of those belong to junior safety Zach Smith.
STARKVILLE — Dorey Gray thought she knew how to set a volleyball. The Mississippi State senior didn’t think she was perfect, by any means, but after seven or eight years she believed she was proficient as a setter. In less than a year, MSU first-year coach Jenny Hazelwood has introduced Gray to a new way of playing her position.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State sophomore offensive guard Quentin Saulsberry knows it will be important for the Bulldogs to establish a running game this season. Even though MSU is set to run a spread offense with coach Dan Mullen, Saulsberry said that doesn’t mean there will be more pass than run.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen isn’t releasing details on two key issues about his team as he enters his first game week. Mullen has chosen not to discuss what, if any, suspension he plans for senior running back Anthony Dixon.
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