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MSU Mailbag: A few football questions, Harry Potter movies, specialists and more




Let's dive right in with three football questions before we go all in on the usual Mailbag nonsense, shall we? 


- Patrick Bell (@PBell97) wants to know -- With Kylin Hill starting at RB last game and doing well, how do you see Aeris Williams' role as the season progresses? 


I hate it, but I have to be the wet blanket on this one: I think it's a little too early to read too much into the running back situation. 


Yes, the numbers are pretty drastic: Hill had nine carries for 50 yards and a touchdown, Williams got two for 15. But when I watched the game again the next day for the Film Review, I was keeping track of snap counts on skill positions for a while and I noticed the snap counts between Hill and Williams were much closer than I anticipated. Hill got more before the rotation went awry in a blowout, but it wasn't a massive difference; the only difference was in playcalling when they were on the field, and in this system with as many RPOs as there are, we don't have a way of knowing if MSU is avoiding calling runs with Williams on the field. It could just as easily been RPOs that the SFA defense forced MSU to throw on. 


It's entirely possible that one performs better than the other over the entire season and does so to the point that they become a feature back: Moorhead has had plenty of those in his history. But for the reasons stated above, I think there is still plenty of time before anything in that regard happens. 


- A football question from @donmeeler -- Thoughts on Jamal Couch and Malik Dear not playing? 


This is a good one, Don, thanks for chipping in. 


Jamal Couch not playing really surprised me, I must be honest. I really bought into what Moorhead said about how close No. 1 is to No. 2 and No. 2 is to No. 3 being the determining factor when it comes to rotation at that position. Since he's not a rotation guy in the first place, and his track record proves as much, I read that to believe that he was going to rotate here at least a little, given the talent at his disposal, and I thought Couch would benefit from that; not seeing him makes me wonder if the coaching staff believes there is that much separation between him and Stephen Guidry. 


This is just my opinion, no actual analysis on this: I wasn't all that surprised when Malik Dear wasn't seen much because I came into the season really high on Austin Williams and Deddrick Thomas. I can't say I took the next step in that thought process as to what would happen for Dear -- I still thought there was some possibility of moving Williams outside -- but now that it worked out the way it did in Week 1, I can't say that it shocks me. 


- Shouts to the homie Rob Montgomery (@10RobertWilliam), who comes in with Mailbag heat every week. What game result from the weekend surprised you the most? After the first week, do you feel any differently about your SEC predictions for the season? 


I cannot believe this is a sentence I'm about to utter: I was really disappointed in Kentucky. 


I didn't look at Kentucky as a 10-win team or anything, but I did see the pieces for a truly solid team, and struggling the way they did with Central Michigan -- even making a QB change or two in desperation -- was tough to watch. I'm trying not to read too much into it, because it's a one-game sample and Central Michigan has a history of giving Power 5 schools all kinds of headaches (remember the Oklahoma State game from two years ago?), but I will have a watchful eye on them. If some of that potential doesn't at least show signs of maybe coming to fruition in the next couple of weeks, my thought of that being a trap game for MSU is going to fall out. 


As for what I thought of the SEC: yes, the LSU game made me bulge my eyes a little, but those of you that follow me on Twitter (@Brett_Hudson) or listened to this week's Straight Sippin' podcast (you can find it on Soundcloud, iTunes/Google Play coming shortly) know that I am not going all in on LSU yet. I was also impressed with Auburn, particularly defensively. I thought Washington was going to win that game, and Auburn's defense playing that well in winning it was a big sign for me. 


- Shouts to the other homie, @dalemo830, who is getting us back to usual Mailbag frivolity. @dalemo830 -- Rob Montgomery (from the last question) and I just completed our 5th annual Harry Potter movie marathon, watching all eight in a 24-hour period. Have you ever considered attempting such a marathon? Are we crazy for continuing to do it? 


Man do I miss channel surfing. 


You see, my wife and I cut the cord about two years ago. We first got our live TV through Playstation Vue, but Vue's user interface was unbelievably bad (maybe still is, who knows), and Hulu is quite good in every way possible. That robs me of the experience of just flipping through channels with a classic remote and stumbling upon ABC Family or Freeform or whatever they're calling it now in the midst of a Harry Potter movie weekend, man did I love those happy accidents. I always -- always -- stopped and watched. 


That's a roundabout way of saying I have definitely tackled the series in a weekend, maybe two-and-a-half days, thanks to those weekend marathons on TV, but I have never done all eight in one day. Honestly, this sounds like something you do once just for the story. Doing it yearly.....yeah, y'all might be crazy. Then again, you both submit questions every week to this land of the preposterous, so maybe that proved you were crazy even before this Harry Potter movie revelation, 


- Shouts to a third homie (that's all the homies in this week's Mailbag), boss lady Abby Hunt (@abstractabs). Her question is simple: Are specialists people too? 


Friends: not only are specialists people, too, they are the most impressive people. And this is not just a ploy to pump up the Heisman campaign for Jace Christmann -- but more on that in the next question. 


Specialists are like hot water heaters, you see. Specialists are barely noticed when they work the way the way they're intended to, but man when you suddenly go a day without, the world is about to end and this travesty must be fixed immediately. When your long snapper (Joel Baldwin) hit the money literally 100 percent of the time, it's fine, but he misses once and he needs to be replaced; all's well when your kicker hits 90 percent of the time, but dip below that and there's suddenly a existential crisis on kicking in your program; find yourself a couple of shanked punts in a game and all of a sudden you're going to high school games in the tri-county area trying to find someone who can do it for your school. A good specialist is like a good hot water heater -- they're so critical to the enjoyment of your life, and you don't know what you got 'til its gone. 


Which is why, as the football hive mind, we should recognize the humans that serve as our specialists. We should recognize Jace Christmann and Tucker Day as the kicker and punter, we should recognize Scott Goodman as the kickoff specialist, we should recognize Joel Baldwin as the long snapper and my main man Kody Schexnayder as the holder. 


Also (checks notes) thank you Abby for giving me the chance to tease this sweet #content. Later this week, y'all will see a story from me about a MSU specialist with a cool personal angle. Specialists are people, too. 


- And now the real pressing question. @crawford_cam95 -- What does Jace Christmann have to do to bring himself back into the Heisman conversation? 


The same thing that makes the modern Heisman Trophy a farce is the same thing that keeps Christmann right in the thick of things: All it takes is a couple of games to come alive. 


It took Lamar Jackson running for 146 yards and completing 65 percent of his passes in a huge game against Florida State to launch him into the conversation, lifted up there a week after hanging 610 yards on Syracuse. Frankly, Christmann benefitted from the same thing last year: he was launched into the international limelight and into our hearts with that game against LSU when he made three field goals. One big game like that and all is right in the world. 


- Finally, from Willie Vanderbrink (how's this for a handle: @OilFart1). Why does I-65 always look like a used car lot? 


If only Willie knew this was a question after my own heart. 


I was raised in Southern Alabama -- Gulf Shores, to be exact. I-65 runs from Mobile pretty much all the way up to Lake Michigan through Indianapolis, ultimately ending pretty close to Chicago. As you can imagine, a route like that pretty much has to cut the state of Alabama in half vertically, so anytime we went north, it was on 65. My parents taking me to Alabama games as a child, even going to Alabama for semesters as a student sometimes, going north for AAU tournaments, all of it. 65 was the way. 


I say all that to make this point: my I-65 experience spans a couple of decades at this point, and one thing has never changed. It's always under construction. 


Have you all seen the episode of The Office where Oscar has to explain a surplus to Michael like a 5-year-old? If you have you can skip the next paragraph; if you haven't, I got you. 


(Oscar is telling Michael to spend extra money so corporate doesn't cut the next year's budget. He does it like this: his parents gave him $10 for a lemonade stand, but it turns out he only needs $8 to run it. If he tells his parents that, they'll give him $8 next year, but he would obviously prefer $10, so he needs to find a way to spend that extra $2 so his parents will give him $10 next year.) 


I will go to my grave believing Alabama is doing this with I-65. I can't prove it and no one can, but let me have this one guys. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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