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.
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.
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