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.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State has looked into the possibility of playing in-state schools more often as its athletic department looks for ways to make trips closer to home and to save money. MSU Athletic Director Greg Byrne said Monday the school is open to playing opponents in Mississippi as long as it fits what it’s trying to do competitively and financially and the game meets its scheduling philosophy.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State basketball team spokesman Gregg Ellis said Monday that All-Southeastern Conference forward Jarvis Varnado became ill during an individual workout and was taken to the hospital. Varnado first went to the Oktibbeha County Hospital for evaluation. He then was sent to the Northeast Mississippi Medical Center for further tests as a precautionary measure.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State defensive coordinator Carl Torbush believes the defensive line is the most improved part of his unit. The Bulldogs struggled in that area last season, especially when it came to stopping the run. MSU’s defense allowed opponents to rush for an average of 150.9 yards per game last year, which was 11th out of the 12 programs in the Southeastern Conference.
The challenge has been set for the Mississippi State women’s basketball team. Now coach Sharon Fanning-Otis wants the Lady Bulldogs to go from earning “good” wins to chalking up “great” ones. The team’s 2009-10 schedule, which was released Friday morning, should afford MSU plenty of chances to earn the signatures victories that allow teams to secure postseason bids.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State junior tight end Thomas Webb knows about homesickness. After graduating from Starkville High School in 2005, Webb saw an opportunity to leave home and play for coach Jeff Bower at Southern Mississippi. Webb had an offer to attend MSU, but he didn’t think it was the right thing to do and was ready to leave town.
STARKVILLE — The presence of former Mississippi State football coach Jackie Sherrill at last Saturday’s closed scrimmage didn’t violate any of the parameters set forth in the self-imposed penalties for an incident that occurred during spring practice.
FULTON — Tevin Blanchard didn’t expect to wind up at Itawamba Community College. As a standout on the Aberdeen High School football team last season, Blanchard entertained dreams of earning a scholarship to play major Division I college football.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama volleyball team hopes focusing on smaller goals and taking them slower helps it accomplish a larger goal this season. A strong spring season and a competitive preseason has the Lady Crimson Tide ready to start the season against Saint Louis at 7 p.m. Friday in the SLU Active Ankle Challenge in St. Louis. “I think every team know what it wants to do, and I think when you set smaller goals and you reach them you get more encouragement and more affirmation,” senior right-side hitter Liz Salstrand said.
SCOOBA –– East Mississippi Community College football coach Buddy Stephens describes the center position as the “traffic cop” of the offensive line. The center is crucial in alerting guards and tackles to the location of an opponent’s linebackers. Centers also make calls for the offensive line that allow adjustments for the correct stance before the football is snapped.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen was a little more demanding on the first practice of the week since the team’s scrimmage Saturday. That’s because he noticed several things to work on. “We’ve got a long way to go,” Mullen said. “We’ve got to get a lot better and clean up a lot with all of the phases the next couple of days, so everything looks cleaner for game week.” Turnovers and allowing big plays on defense bothered Mullen the most in the scrimmage.
STARKVILLE — Paul “Buzzy” Mize of the Henry Mize Foundation said the Humphrey Coliseum is getting a front door. That door that door will give the Mississippi State men’s and women’s basketball teams a new opportunity to improve their programs. The Mize Foundation has provided the lead gift of $4 million toward plans for a $11.2 million indoor basketball practice facility that were announced Monday afternoon.
STARKVILLE — The anticipation surrounding the Mississippi State football season generated a lot of positive energy Monday as students purchased a single-day record of more than 7,000 season tickets. MSU football coach Dan Mullen, who visited several student organizations to promote the program, was pleased to hear about the response.
STARKVILLE — Back from helping Team USA win the bronze medal in July at the World University Games, Mississippi State senior center Jarvis Varnado is ready to focus on the upcoming season. Varnado is excited about what the Bulldogs can accomplish, especially with high-profiled signees like Renardo Sidney and John Riek.
STARKVILLE — With a new head coach and a new spread offense in the works, the Mississippi State football team this season has the potential to surprise some people, assistant coach Rockey Felker told the Starkville Rotary Club Monday afternoon.
OXFORD — Each season brings a new sense of energy for Steve Holeman. This season, though, will be unique for the University of Mississippi women’s soccer coach. The Lady Rebels will rely on the experience of 11 returning players, but they also will count on contributions from 15 freshmen who are part of a class of 18 newcomers. The group of newcomers is the largest since Holeman was hired as the program’s first and only coach in 1994.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State basketball team spokesman Gregg Ellis confirmed Saturday morning that sophomore backup point guard Twany Beckham plans to have hip surgery and will be out for the season. “He’s got bone spurs in both hips and will have surgery in a couple of weeks,” Ellis said. Beckham, who was experiencing chronic pain because of the condition, will have surgery on one side, then undergo several months of rehabilitation before having the same procedure done on the other side.
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