Robinson may have ran himself into the Heisman race.


Mississippi State is the first No.1 team in the inaugural College Football Playoff Committee poll. It may be improbable but it makes perfect sense if you understand the storm that brought the team together.

As Christian Holmes darted down the field, returning a Kentucky onside kick, I came to a realization: He’s not supposed to be on the field, nevertheless clinching the game with a sensational run.

Another thing I realized: There are several Christian Holmes’ on Mississippi State’s roster and coaching staff–players and coaches who aren’t supposed to be in Starkville contributing to a national contender.

Three elements have made up a perfect storm for the Bulldogs: the shouldn’t have been here, the overlooked and the should have been somewhere else.

The Shouldn’t Have Been Here

Christian Holmes: Holmes, if the off-season rumors had come true, was expected to move on after graduating college. Even if he returned, he was expected to be third-string behind Dezmond Harris, who had an impressive spring. He did come back, though. He beat out Harris and has become a major contributor–ranking third on the team in tackles (34).

Will Redmond: If things had shaken out the wrong way, Redmond wouldn’t have been eligible. But he was cleared, albeit with the cost of a year and a half of eligibility. He’s now emerged as the Bulldogs top one-on-one cornerback.

Nick James: James had one foot out the door after a true freshmen season which saw him struggle with conditioning issues and in the classroom. He had to shape up or ship out. Well, he shaped up literally and figuratively. He lost weight and bought into the team concept. After splitting time early in the season with Curtis Virges, James has solidified himself as the one-technique, defensive tackle on the 1B defense.

Taveze Calhoun: Calhoun might not have even got recruited if Quay Evans wasn’t his teammate. Harsh but real truth. He was viewed as package-deal player–helping to secure Evans commitment. Evans is off the roster and Calhoun has become one of the best cornerbacks in the SEC.

De’Runnya Wilson: Wilson would be playing for Alabama if they offered. He grew up an Alabama fan. The only reason he’s at MSU is because he couldn’t wear the Auburn colors due to allegiance to Alabama.

The Overlooked

Dak Prescott: Prescott was initially overlooked by LSU–as they only recruited him as an athlete. LSU did eventually recruit him as a quarterback but only after Dan Mullen had secured his commitment. The rest as they say is history.

Josh Robinson: LSU wanted Terrance McGee, Robinson’s high school teammate, but not him. Robinson grew up wanting to wear the purple and gold. He settled for torching them for 197 yards on 16 carries. Les Miles has been blessed with some talented running backs, but I think he’ll forever regret not recruiting Robinson.

Jameon Lewis: Although Lewis was a stud high school quarterback/athlete, he was only recruited locally. He had to bide his time behind Chad Bumphis. But he finally got his shot last season and shined. Once he is full strength, the electric slot receiver will bolster an already deep receiving core.

Blaine Clausell: Clausell was overlooked by his home-state schools–Auburn and Alabama. Those schools lost out on a talented linemen and Mississippi State gained a three-year starter.

Malcolm Johnson: Johnson is the classic tweener prospect that Alabama and Auburn didn’t give a second look. Coach Mullen recruited him and converted him from a big receiver into a hybrid tight end and key cog in their offensive machine.

The Should Have Been Somewhere Else

Billy Gonzales: Truth be told, Gonzales should be at a more elite program with his resume. Mississippi State,in a literal sense, is a step down from Florida. He should be somewhere else. But he’s at Mississippi State. The work he’s done with the Bulldog receiving core is top notch–especially with De’Runnya Wilson, who’s developed into one of the better receivers in the SEC.

Geoff Collins: Collins is an up-and-comer who could have jumped at a mid-Major coaching job this past off-season or taken an offer from a bigger school. He decided to stay after his salary was raised and has spearheaded “Psycho Defense.”

Dan Mullen: Mullen could have left and maybe should have been fired at different points. He’s stuck around and was able to see his plan through. He’s set up for long-term success and a huge raise. It remains to be seen if he’ll get that raise from Mississippi State or someone else. Bulldog fans should just enjoy this season and see how the ball bounces.

The Bulldogs are a hungry team that’s resilient and built for adversity. No one should be surprised that their having success. When a team is filled with overlooked players and ambitious coaches, the end result is a perfect storm.

J.Short’s Hot Takes

  • Dak is rising up the draft boards. But at this stage of his development, he would benefit greatly from another year in college. His long ball accuracy still needs work—as he throws the ball too far or too short most of the time. Also, the red zone play where he locked onto De’Runnya Wilson, instead of throwing to an open Robert Johnson is another area of improvement that needs to be made.
Could he win the Heisman? Yes

Is he ready for the NFL? Not in my opinion.

  • Fred Brown and Fred Ross deserve some praise for consistently performing in a reserve role. Brown has 210 yards on the season and Ross 158. Combined they have 368 with three touchdowns, which would be best on the team if they were one player. You can’t ask for more from reserves. I see ya young bucks. Keep grindin.
  • Chris Jones hasn’t answered my challenge. He’s been ineffective the past two games. He was moved outside against Kentucky and didn’t record a tackle. Inexcusable.
  • Salute to Kaleb Eulls. He got named defensive linemen of the week after a five tackle, two sack performance. It looks as though he’s finally living up to that four-star rating.
  • The Mississippi State pass defense continues to disappoint. But I do believe the real problem is at the safety position. The Bulldog cornerbacks are making plays. The safeties aren’t, though. Kivon Coman’s four combined four pass break ups and deflections lead the group, which is a testament to how few plays on the ball they are making. At this point, the coaching staff needs to focus on the players who make the most plays in the passing game and sit the rest. It’s a tough decision that has to be made.
  • MSU’s pass defense may be pourous. Their pass rush is not. The Bulldogs are tied for sixth in the nation with 28 sacks on the season. They’re doing their job. The back end just needs to do theirs.
  • I normally salute MSU’s players. But I have to salute Kentucky for a great effort. In particular, I want to salute Patrick Towles, who had 466 total yards with four combined touchdowns.
J.Short’s Final Take

Dak Prescott is getting pushed as the Heisman contender for Mississippi State. But I think another Bulldog deserves consideration: Josh Robinson.

Look at the numbers: 887 yards and ten touchdowns on the season.

Also, when the Bulldogs have needed him to impose his will on the opposing team, he’s done so in impressive fashion. He even has the Heisman moments. The two great runs he had against Kentucky will go down as two of the greatest runs in Mississippi State history.

J.Rob for Heisman!!!

Jeremiah Short, Peach State College Sports Contributor

Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central and Thursday’s 8-10 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist.

 
 
Will Redmond defending a pass. The Bulldogs will need more plays like these to remain on top.


It’s easy to be the hunter, but it’s a lot harder being the prey. Mississippi State is about to find that out the hard way.

Mississippi State’s fans, players and coaches are in an unfamiliar position. The team that was once seeking legitimacy and relevance with every game is now the team up-and-coming programs will try to beat to gain legitimacy and relevance.

It’s an interesting role reversal. But it’s a well-earned one. The Bulldogs defeated three straight top-10 opponents in a row (First team since the 1983 Auburn Tigers to do so.). They were rewarded for withstanding the brutal SEC gauntlet–going from unranked to number one in the span of five weeks, which was unprecedented but warranted.

The Bulldogs have received all the acclaim and accolades that come along with a top ranking: the Sports Illustrated covers, the Heisman hype for their quarterback and, most importantly, the RESPECT.

If the casual fan didn’t know the difference between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, they darn sure know now.

How do they keep their status? Beware of complacency.

6-0 is a great record and start to any season. But that just means there are nine games left to play: six regular season, one SEC Championship and two College Football Playoff.

The next game is truly the most important one when you have a target on your back.

“Playing in the SEC gives you a bigger game every week. This is the biggest game we have played of the season. I said the Auburn game was the biggest game ever played in the state of Mississippi. This game is bigger now. Now we are a team that has a target on our back. We have to go on the road in a hostile environment and play one of the hottest and most improved teams in college football. Our guys better learn how to handle that and realize how big of a game this really is,” Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen on remaining focused.

While the recent three-game stretch proved that the Bulldogs have arrived as an elite program, the next three games against Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee-Martin will show if they’re still hungry.

All three games present their own challenges. Kentucky is a burgeoning program looking for that first “Statement” game to make the nation take notice. Arkansas is in year two of Brett Beliema’s regime, but they have some momentum and are powered by dominant run offense. Tennessee-Martin is a mid-Major but the matchup has “Trap Game” written all over it–as the Bulldogs might be looking ahead to a potential showdown with Alabama.

If the Bulldogs lose one of the next three games, they’re not out of the race. But they do lose a little bit of that “aura” of dominance. All it takes is a little chink in the armor for a team uncomfortable with the spotlight to go into a tailspin and believe what their critics are saying about them.

Oh, LSU wasn’t really that good and didn’t take Mississippi State serious.

Texas A&M wasn’t really that good and was dropping the ball all game.

Auburn’s a nice win but they shot themselves in the foot.

Critics do what critics do…Criticize. But critics aren’t always wrong.

In the Bulldogs key victories, they did catch a few breaks.

LSU didn’t respect the Bulldogs. Take the initial goaline stand from the Bulldog defense as an example. Instead of mixing it up and trying to run around the Bulldog front seven, LSU’s Head Coach Les Miles decided to run right at them. It’s was like he saying: We’re LSU and you’re MSU…stop us. LSU was stopped and embarrassed. But it still doesn’t stop the fact that Miles didn’t respect what the Bulldogs brought to the table.

Texas A&M, a team which built around an up-tempo offense predicated on rhythm, struggled to put together consistent drives because of constant drops and inaccurate passes from Kenny Hill. Could the Bulldogs have won the game without those miscues? Yes. But we’ll never know.

Auburn and Mississippi State turned the ball over in their matchup. But the Bulldogs did a better job of capitalizing on the Tigers mistakes.

Mississippi State has beaten teams who brought their B, C and D games. What happens when a team with the talent brings their “A” game?

Will the “Dawgs” make the necessary plays or will they buckle under the pressure?

That’s the question yet to be answered. But it’s going to be answered at some point. If the Bulldogs do make it past the next three games unscathed, they do have Alabama, the current preeminent SEC program that won’t relinquish its title without a fight.

And then if they beat Alabama, they have their annual showdown with Ole Miss in the “Egg Bowl,” which has weighted importance–as the Rebels will be playing spoilers or for their right to represent the SEC West in Atlanta.

Mississippi State is the top “Dawg” in college football. Keeping the hunter’s mentality is the only way they remain there.

J.Short’s Hot Takes

  • I understand Mullen deciding to roll with J.Rob against Auburn. But Brandon Holloway has earned the right to be on the field every week. He’s too much of an asset to be on the sidelines in an important game.
  • Salute to Malcolm Johnson for showing up against Auburn. He hasn’t been incorporated the way he should be throughout most of the season. But when his bell was called, he produced.
  • Shout out to Ben Beckwith. He’s making a lot of talent evaluators look bad. He’s gone from walk-on to a potential NFL Draft pick.
  • Shout out to Ryan Brown for a huge game against Auburn. His numbers were a little deceiving–as he only had two tackles and one for a loss. But he locked down the edge and had three quarterback hurries.
  • Matt Wells isn’t getting the pub that fellow Bulldog starting linebackers Benardrick McKinney and Beniquez Brown are getting, but it doesn’t mean what he’s doing isn’t equally as important. He only has 22 tackles on the season. But he has ten pass break ups and deflections on the year. He’s been the ultimate hybrid linebacker–sealing the edge and shutting down the flats. I see ya young buck. Keep grindin and flexing on them.
  • Quadry Antoine’s career hasn’t went the way he, or the coaches, would have liked it to have gone. But when he got his shot, he came up with a big play–causing a critical fumble that turned the momentum back in the Bulldogs favor. His time will come to make a few more of those plays…watch.
  • I’ve never been the president of the Will Redmond fan club. But he showed up against Auburn. He was superb in man-to-man coverage and he could be the lockdown corner Mississippi State has been searching for all season.
  • Justin Cox has been hobbled for most of the season, but he made the game-clinching interception against Auburn. The Bulldogs need him to make more of those plays if they hope to make it to the College Football Playoff.
J.Short’s Final Take

As I’ve perused the web, story after story has focused on the Bulldogs talent or lack thereof. While the Bulldogs aren’t filled with four and five stars, it doesn’t mean their players can’t play. “Mississippi Boys” can play. The stats support it. Per capita, Mississippi ranks fourth in putting talent in the NFL( One per 87,243 citizens). A couple of NFL greats hail from Mississippi. Brett Favre. Steve McNair. Walter Payton. Jerry Rice.

It hasn’t translated on the field because one: The State of Mississippi has two major football programs.

And two: No coach has every truly focused on development the way Dan Mullen has at Mississippi State. It’s been commented that Mullen has turned two and three stars into five stars. I disagree. He’s got five stars to play like five stars. Those Benardrick McKinney’s and Johnthan Banks were that good the whole time. Recruiting analysts were and are just too lazy to go into those rural Mississippi schools and scout them. I use to work for a scouting service. I know for a fact that they overlook small schools. Most of the players don’t get ranked until they commit to an SEC program in some cases.

Look at Mississippi State’s roster. Six of their key contributors: Jameon Lewis, Gabe Myles, Zach Jackson, Benardrick McKinney, Will Redmond and Justin Cox are former high school quarterbacks who were converted to different positions. Only one of those players (Redmond) was rated above three stars and he’s from Memphis, Tennessee.

So, I think Dan Mullen and his staff need to be commended for actually evaluating talent, instead of paying attention to what ESPN, Rivals, 247 and Scout have to say about them.

Jeremiah Short, Peach State College Sports Contributor

Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central and Thursday’s 8-10 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist.

 
 
Google Images/ Brandon Holloway Mississippi State very well could be the best team in the country.


Mississippi State is the 3rd-best college football team in the country. Let me repeat, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are the third-ranked program in the country and the center of the college football universe.

I’ll be honest in saying: I never thought I’d see the day.

To put that statement into context, I have to take the writer hat off for a minute and talk about my time as a fan of Mississippi State or “State” to those from Mississippi.

I wasn’t always a Mississippi State fan. I knew nothing of them until my brother walked into the house boasting that he got J.J. Johnson’s autograph. I vividly remember thinking, who is J.J. Johnson? Not in the good way, either.

Eventually, I started to follow Mississippi State when my older sister began to attend Mississippi State. I found out who J.J. Johnson was…possibly the best running back that had to come through Mississippi State(May still be). And so I became a Bulldog.

I was blessed early on as a fan. I got to see the Bulldogs go on an improbable 8-0 run in 1999, which saw the “Dawgs” win several games in spectacular fashion (Thanks Matt Wyatt). They finished 10-2 with a Peach Bowl win.

The Bulldogs went bowling again in 2000. And then began my most excruciating time as a fan of the team hailing from Starkville. Over the next six years, the Bulldogs didn’t have one winning season and compiled a putrid 17-52 record. One of those losses included an embarrassing loss to FBS opponent: Maine. Freaking Maine. The program I loved had become a joke. It didn’t help that I was a student at Mississippi State, either.

Fast forward to 2007, the Sylvester Croom-led Bulldogs put together a winning season, which was capped with a Liberty Bowl victory over Central Florida. A game I attended with my Aunt Florence, a fellow Mississippi State alum and fan. (It’s a memory I will always cherish–as that Aunt recently passed away.)

I thought we were about to turn the corner. I was wrong. One off-season shooting incident stripped the Dawgs of four top performers. It’s a loss that couldn’t be absorbed. The next season the Bulldogs won only four games. Croom, the first black coach in SEC history, was fired.

In came Dan Mullen, the offensive “guru” who was supposed to turn the Bulldogs into a national contender or at least Mississippi State fans pretended we thought he could get the program to that level.

The “Yankee” from New Hampshire got off to a solid start. He achieved a 5-7 record in his first season–defeating Ole Miss in the “Egg Bowl” and excited the crowd by saying that “Mississippi State was the program on the rise” in the State of Mississippi. It’s became the battle cry for Bulldog fans. We were on the rise to the top and Dan Mullen would lead us there.

While Mullen led the Bulldogs to four-straight bowl games, it seemed he would never deliver on his promise. It’s something that wasn’t lost on me. I went so far as to write a column stating that “Mullen Must Change His Ways” if he is to turn the Bulldogs into a contender.

The 2014 season was a true “Now or Never” year for Mullen. He had his guys and had to deliver. Finally, after years of disappointments, the Dawgs got over the hump. They didn’t just beat national powerhouse LSU but destroyed them. They didn’t stop there.They easily disposed of Texas A&M, another top-10 opponent.

Bulldog fans who dealt with years of anguish had something not just be excited about but boast about. It still feels surreal. The Bulldogs have the Heisman front-runner (Dak Prescott), are a favorite in the new college football playoff and share the Sports Illustrated cover with Ole Miss. It feels like something that would only happen on the now debunk NCAA Football video game. But it’s actually happening.

As much as I’d love to get excited, Tweet and “Flex for the Gram”(And I have) over MSU’s early-season run, I have to put the writer hat back on and assess the Bulldogs’ realistic chances of winning the National title.

Realistically, The Bulldogs have a real shot at winning the first college football playoff. They have all the ingredients: great quarterback play, a balanced offense, good depth and a stout defense.

The one Achilles heel that could come back to haunt the Bulldogs is the fact that they are susceptible to the big play through the air. They’re giving up 328.2 passing yards per game. That’s not going to get it.

Luckily, the Bulldogs don’t face a dominant passing team until they face off against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, which very well decide the SEC West and SEC for that matter. Talk about something I never thought I’d see.

I don’t think anyone thought this day would come. But it’s here now. Moments like these don’t come around often.

Soak it in, embrace it and enjoy the ride.

J.Short’s Hot Takes

  • Brandon Holloway’s emergence Saturday gives Mississippi State something it sorely needed: a game breaker. The Bulldogs haven’t had a game one in the Mullen Era. He makes an explosive offense…even more explosive. The Dawgs finally have a guy that can get the corner and break the long run with a small crease.
  • Joe Morrow, I wrote you off but you’ve made some plays this season. I see ya young buck. Keep shining.
  • Salute to Ben Beckwith for stepping up in Dillon Day’s stead on Saturday.
  • I’ve really been hard on Kaleb Eulls throughout his career. But he’s sold out as the one-technique defensive tackle this season. I see ya.
  • I challenged Benardrick McKinney after the first game–asking him to play like an All-American. And he has the last four games. Now I want to challenge Chris Jones, who was a preseason All-American, to step his game up. 12 tackles and two sacks isn’t going to get it. I need to see more.
  • I’ll put it simply: Mississippi State defensive backs, man up. The way you’ve played this season is an absolute disgrace. You’re too talented as a unit to get gashed the way you have every week.
 J.Short’s Final Take

I had to take a moment to say how proud I am to be from the State of Mississippi right now. Two Mississippi teams are on the cover of Sports Illustrated…SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. It became too real when a co-worker, who supports Ole Miss, came to my classroom and just asked: “Have you seen the Sports Illustrated cover?” I just smiled and opined: Yes, I had. That’s how awesome it is that the State of Mississippi dominates the headlines in college football.

*This column was dedicated to my Aunt Florence McGowan. She recently passed away–succumbing to Breast Cancer on September 8th, 2014. R.I.P. Aunt Flo

Support Breast Cancer Awareness. It might save a life.

Jeremiah Short, Peach State College Sports Contributor

Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist


Posted by: jeremiah short // October 8, 2014
 
 
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Prescott has emerged as a legitimate Heisman contender.


Who’s Dakota Prescott?

Simple Answer: He’s the 6’2, 230-pound quarterback who led his team to victory over perennial power the LSU Tigers this past Saturday. Their first victory over a top-10 opponent in 14 years and first win in “Death Valley’ since 1991.

Real Answer: Dak, as known by most, is the “program-changing” quarterback who has lifted Mississippi State from obscurity to national prominence.

The Mississippi State coaching staff and fan base always knew what they had in Dak. They always knew that he had the presence. They always knew he had the talent. And they always knew he had “It.”

Mississippi State’s head coach Dan Mullen realized that he had something special when he offered Prescott four years ago. He was one of the first coaches to offer him. Subsequently, he’s one the few coaches who was willing to give Prescott an opportunity to play quarterback.

Prescott rewarded Mullen’s loyalty and faith when he rebuffed a late LSU offer and enrolled early in 2011. He had an immediate buzz from the moment he stepped foot on campus.

Even with Chris Relf(One of more successful Mississippi State quarterbacks in recent memory), Tyler Russell(The most hyped quarterback recruit Mississippi State had ever signed) and Dylan Favre(Brett Favre’s nephew) on the roster, there was still talk of the broad-shouldered kid who was Mullen’s first true target at the quarterback position.

The media and fans had to wait to see the kid, though. Prescott redshirted and then served as the running quarterback to Russell’s passing quarterback as a freshman.

The time finally came for the kid to be unleashed. Russell succumbed to an injury in the first game of the season. Prescott entered and brought spark to an offense that looked putrid under Russell. The Bulldogs still lost the game, but it was clear that there was something special about the kid.

A young Bulldog team struggled in 2013 but Prescott shined and gave Mississippi State something it needed: hope.

Hope that they had finally found the quarterback they always sought. Coming from a state that has produced Brett Favre(Southern Miss), Archie Manning(Ole Miss) and Steve McNair(Alcorn State), it’s a shame that Mississippi State had never had “that” guy. But they had him now.

The national media heaped praise on Prescott during the off-season. The college football world was still wondering: Who is this kid Dak Prescott everyone is calling a “Dark Horse” Heisman candidate?

Prescott lived up to the hype in the first three games–throwing for 696 yards and rushing for 273 with 11 combined touchdowns.

With a primetime match-up against LSU, the stage was finally set for Prescott to announce his arrival to the rest of the nation. He delivered. He had 373 total yards and three touchdowns.

It wasn’t just the numbers that set Prescott apart. It’s the way he went about getting them.

The most impressive sequence came in the third quarter. Prescott fumbled the ball and LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter picked it up and scored. Showing great resiliency, the Haughton, Louisiana native responded with a 56-yard run through the teeth of the LSU defense–killing LSU’s momentum and re-establishing Mississippi State’s control of the game that was never relinquished.

It was a true “Heisman” moment.

Prescott emerged from the game as a true contender for the Heisman, not a “Dark Horse.” He has everything required to be a front-runner.

Stats: Prescott has thrown for 11 touchdowns on the season, to go along with 378 rushing yards and 15 combined touchdowns–including a touchdown reception.

Intangibles: Prescott has the million-dollar smile and clean image that Heisman voters covet now with the recent transgressions of past winners Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel.

Great Story: Prescott lost his mother Peggy last season. And in the same week, he went out and played inspired football. He suffered a shoulder injury but returned valiantly in the final game–leading the Bulldogs to an improbable victory over in-state rival Ole Miss.

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Mullen and Prescott are a match made in Heaven.


Not only has Prescott given the Bulldogs a Heisman candidate, he’s helped them have something they’ve never had: an offense.

The Bulldogs historically are known for having great defensive teams. But the offense has always left something to be desired.

The Bulldog offense in 2014 has changed that narrative. They’re putting up 41.3 points a game (26th in the nation). This year’s offense is a realization of what many hoped for when Dan Mullen was hired in 2009 away from Florida.

Dak is a major reason for that turnaround. He’s allowed Mullen to open up the offense in a way he never could under Relf and Russell. Relf had the arm talent and legs but lacked the accuracy and confidence. Russell had the arm talent and accuracy but lacked the intangibles. Prescott has the arm talent, legs and accuracy with a little extra.

While I praise Prescott for his intangibles and talent, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what he has working in his favor.

The emerging star has the right talent around him. Josh Robinson has emerged as one of the best running backs in the SEC. Jameon Lewis and De’Runnya Wilson are All-SEC caliber wide receivers. The Bulldog offensive line isn’t half bad, either.

The “Power” spread employed by Mullen fits right into Prescott’s physical style of play. It’s the same offense that made Tim Tebow, who Prescott has been compared to, into one of the greatest college football players of all-time.

It doesn’t hurt that the Bulldogs have a “Psycho D”, which is only giving up 16.5 points per game (16th nationally). With that defense behind him, Dak isn’t under pressure to win the game by himself. It allows him to play free and uninhibited.

That will come in handy the next two games as Prescott leads the “Dawgs” against Texas A&M and Auburn, two top-10 opponents led by their own Heisman Trophy candidates–Kenny “Trill” Hill  and Nick Marshall.

So, who’s Dak Prescott? The player Mississippi State knew and the rest of the nation is about to find out about.

        J.Short’s Hot Takes

  • To J.Rob, I know you’re not getting the love around the SEC that you deserve. But I want to say: “I see ya.” Keep eating. The national media will notice your exploits soon enough. 
  • De’Runnya Wilson is the receiver that Mullen has lacked since coming to MSU. That big target who can stretch the field and makes things easy in the red zone. The play that showed Wilson’s worth was the corner route on the first touchdown of the game. The Bulldogs haven’t had a guy who can go up and “Moss” a defensive back that way in the Mullen era.
  • Salute to the Bulldog offensive line for stepping up and dominating one the best defensive lines in college football Saturday.
  • Sticking with the offensive line. Bulldog fans, take several seats over your criticism of the Dillon Day suspension. He deserves it. There is no way he didn’t stomp on those LSU players on purpose. And Change.Org petitions. Really? Y’all need to fall back and email the White House about ISIS or Ebola, not a darn college center for Mississippi State.
  • I have another I see ya for Nelson Adams, Richie Brown and Christian Holmes. All three have played well this season and haven’t got much pub for it. So, I see ya. Keep grindin.
  • If the Bulldog staff doesn’t plug the holes in the secondary, they will lose one or both of the next two games. The Aggies and Tigers have quarterbacks with big-time arms and will take advantage of every mistake. Get it together in the bye week or pay for it. I don’t care how they do it. Just do it.
J.Short’s Final Take

To Dan Mullen, what the heck were you thinking in final minutes of the LSU game? I really want to know. You get backups ready in other games to play the LSU’s of the world, not get them experience versus the LSU’s of the world. I’d call this colossal coaching blunder a fireable offense if the Bulldogs hadn’t actually won the game. It’s probably the stupidest coaching move I’ve seen in a long time.

Jeremiah Short, Peach State College Sports Contributor

Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist

 
 
Tyson Lee comes up short against LSU in 2009.


Tyson Lee failing to score on the goaline against LSU in 2009 signifies the entire Dan Mullen Era. The Bulldogs have always been one inch, one play, one player and one “statement” game short of ascending from a “Team on the Rise” to legit SEC Title contender under the sixth-year coach.

Auburn 2010: The Bulldogs were faced with an opportunity to beat the eventual national champion. Chris Relf attempted to lead a game-winning drive. It was a valiant attempt. But Leon Berry, a Bulldog receiver, dropped a critical pass. One play short.

South Carolina 2011: Bulldogs have an opportunity to beat South Carolina, one of the premier SEC ball clubs the past few years. They have the lead in the last minutes. What happens? South Carolina gets a favorable match up with Alshon Jeffery on Corey Broomfield and not Mississippi State’s best corner Johnthan Banks. Jeffery “Mosses” Broomfield and the Bulldogs are once again one play and player short in a big game.

2012 Season: The Bulldogs start the season 7-0 and are poised to take the next step. What happens? They nose dive and lose five of their next six games–including their only loss to Ole Miss, their in-state rival, during Mullen’s tenure.

Auburn 2013: The “Dawgs” again have an opportunity to beat Auburn, the eventual national championship runner-up. What happens? C.J. Uzumah gets a favorable match up against freshman cornerback Cedric Jiles and scores the game-winning touchdown for Auburn. Again, one play short. Now the Bulldogs had two solid victories in 2010. They beat Georgia and Florida, two perennial powers. The victories are a good notch in the belt. But it doesn’t do much for your program to beat perennial powers in down years.

Preston Smith/Google Images
Smith has won the SEC Defensive Linemen of the Week three times in a row. It’s the first time in history someone has accomplished the feat.


Present Day: The Bulldogs have another opportunity to make a statement Saturday against LSU. They’re riding a six-game winning streak going back to the 2013 regular season and have the most depth they’ve had under Mullen. The excuse for “Dawgs” in most years is that they don’t have comparable talent to most SEC powers such as LSU. That’s not the case this year.

The Bulldogs have a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback(Dak Prescott), two All-SEC candidates at receiver(De’Runnya Wilson and Jameon Lewis), two All-American candidates on the defensive line(Chris Jones and Preston Smith), an All-American candidate at linebacker(Benardrick McKinney) and two talented cornerbacks( Jamerson Love and Taveze Calhoun). An argument can be made that Bulldogs are more talented than LSU in several positions. Quarterback, Wide Receiver and Linebacker come to mind. That’s a claim the Mullen-led squad couldn’t make the past few years.

Toppling LSU won’t be an easy task. They are LSU after all. While the Tigers still have uncertainty at quarterback, they still have a dominant running game, which features Kenny Hilliard and heralded true freshman Leonard Fournette. They have the big-play ability of Travis Dural on the outside. And as always, they have an elite defense, which is only allowing eight points a game. Oh yeah, the game is in “Death Valley”, one the toughest road environments in college football. A win would give the Bulldogs a statement victory, but also, momentum as they head into the meat of their SEC schedule, in which they face Auburn and Texas A&M two weeks in a row. “Right now our focus is on this game and this game only. If we win this game we are going to be where we want to be in the SEC race. It is always important to win your first game in conference play because that really gives you a big jump start in the conference,” Mullen on the importance of getting off to a strong start in SEC play.

ESPN will televise the game. So, the whole world will be watching. Mullen is trying to keep things in the proper perspective, though “We get a ton of publicity playing in the Southeastern Conference and playing great teams all the time. If we win we will have one day where everyone tells us how great we are, and if we lose we will have one day where everyone tells us how bad we are. Then we have to get back to work. I don’t pay much attention to it because we won’t be as good as everyone tells us we are and probably won’t be as bad as everyone tells us we are. Sunday we will be right back to working on the next opponent,” Mullen on playing on the national stage.

The Bulldog fans and players have come up with creative hashtags for the season: #Dak4Heisman, #$Yr, #MakeEmBelieve and #RdToAtl. All those things could become a reality if they don’t fold in the clutch. That means they must convert their third downs. That means that they can’t have a slow start. And they can’t let the moment overcome them as they have in every year under Dan Mullen. Beat LSU and you’re not a team rising to the top. …You’re there.

Jeremiah Short, Peach State College Sports Contributor Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist


Posted by: jeremiah short // September 18, 2014
 
 
Dare To Dream Can the Mississippi State Bulldogs win the SEC? I say to Bulldog fans: Dare to Dream.

I’m not trying to pump sunshine with that statement. I’m speaking reality. To win the SEC, teams must have three traits: good depth, elite talent and an elite defense. The Bulldogs have all three in 2014.

They rotated two-deep on both sides of the ball on Saturday, and there wasn’t a noticeable drop off. Dak Prescott, Josh Robinson, Jameon Lewis, De’Runnya “Bear” Wilson, Chris Jones, Benardrick McKinney are All-SEC caliber talents who must be accounted for every week. And the Bulldog defense, which has taken on the mantra “Psycho Defense”, is ferocious.

I like to keep things in perspective, though. I understand the Bulldogs have to get through Alabama, LSU and Auburn and the entire SEC West for that matter. But all you can do is play the games on your schedule, which is favorable to the Bulldogs. They don’t face an SEC opponent until the fourth game of the season. That’s enough time to work out the kinks and establish who the key pieces are on the team.

The first game, while against inferior competition, offered some insight into who are those key contributors.
Google Images/Dak Prescott


Offense

The Bulldog offense started where it left off ending the season: dominating. After early troubles, the offense gained its footing in the second quarter and never looked back…making it look easy.

Quarterback (B)

I know some feel Prescott played a tremendous game, but I don’t think he played up to expectations. I was disappointed that Prescott hasn’t progressed more mechanically in the pocket. He still was flicking the ball too much and throwing flat-footed at times. His mechanics came a long way last season. I thought he would be much further ahead after a full off-season of work. His numbers were eye popping, though. Four touchdowns and 286 yards through the air are nothing to sneeze at. But if he doesn’t fix those mechanical issues, it will show up against upper echelon opponents.

QB Position Now and Going Forward: I critcized Prescott’s performance. But I expect nothing less than an All-SEC season from him.

While Prescott is a superstar, I have concerns about whether Damian Williams is a capable back-up in the SEC. He performed admirably last season in spot duty. If I was to go off the first game, he didn’t progress much. I’m not comfortable he could get the job done if Prescott went down. With that said, Coach Mullen needs to get Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley ready and allow them to compete for the number two job.

Running Back (B)

The MSU running backs were probably the most unheralded of all the offensive positions headed into the season. Josh Robinson made those who underrated him and his cohorts take notice after his spectacular performance, though. He looked comfortable in the lead-back role. He was fast, physical and got stronger as the game went on. And he displayed some good hands with three catches for 49 yards.

I was a little discouraged with the other backs. Nick Griffin’s stat line looked nice (eight carries for 45 yards). But he ran out of gas quickly and lacks the necessary explosion to be a rotational SEC back. Brandon Holloway looked solid in a few runs. Solid isn’t going to get it in the SEC as a rotational back.

RB Now and Going Forward: Robinson is entrenched as the feature back, but he needs capable backups. Ashton Shumpert was suspended for the first game. He’ll take one of spots in the rotation in game two. The number three spot is where the trouble comes in. Again, Griffin isn’t a player you want as a regular rotation back.

What’s the answer? Pull the redshirt off of Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year Aeris Williams. He’s too good of a player to sit down on the bench when there is a need at running back. With Robinson, Shumpert and Williams leading the charge, Holloway could settle into a specialty role where he fits best. Griffin could continue in his role as the Fullback. The unit would have depth with this rotation and stack up to the rest of the SEC.

Wide Receiver/Tight End (A)

I loved, loved, loved what I saw from the Bulldog receivers on Saturday. They got open, were sure handed and played with a level of aggression I’ve never seen from a collective group of Bulldog receivers. It’s the first time in a while I can say that at least four MSU receivers have that “dogg” in them: Jameon Lewis, De’Runnya Wilson, Fred Brown and Fred Ross. Lewis is already an All-SEC talent. But Wilson is “that” outside guy MSU has been waiting on since Dan Mullen took over. He doesn’t just have All-SEC potential…He has All-American potential. He’s big, tall and a proficient route runner. Many don’t know his name. But they will soon.

WR/TE Now and Going Forward: The Bulldogs have a legitimate two-deep at Receiver and Tight End. The three main targets are Malcolm Johnson, Wilson and Lewis. I’d take that. There needs to be some reshuffling on the depth chart, though. Robert Johnson would be my first change. The coaches have been waiting on him for a couple years now. He’s yet to take that next step. Brown, Ross and possibly Joe Morrow have passed him up. He deserves to be in the rotation. But one of those players needs to replace him in the starting line-up.

Offensive Line(C+) The offensive line was very Jekyll and Hyde Saturday Night. They did a good job making holes in the running game, but Prescott and Williams got hit way too many times. The struggles could be attributed to the constant rotation at the position. But there’s no excuse for a player like a Blaine Clausell, a two-year starter, to get dominated the way he did on a few plays. He has not only needs to step up but man up. He’s the Left Tackle and has to set the tone. He didn’t set the right one on Saturday.

OL Now and Going Forward: All the offensive line has to do is settle down, and they’ll be fine. Coach John Hevesy has to find his best seven and go with them. That ten rotation stuff is implausible. Most good teams don’t have seven good linemen and darn sure don’t have ten.
Google Images/Benardrick McKinney


Defense

“Psycho Defense” was in full effect on Saturday. The Bulldog defense looked mean, aggressive and intimidating. This is the first time since the Joe Lee Dunn “Dawg” defense days that the Bulldogs have an identity on that side of ball. The rest of the SEC should be worried…very worried.

Defensive Line (A)

Unstoppable is the only word I can use to describe this unit. The Southern Miss line just couldn’t slow them down. They bull-rushed, ran through and ran around the Golden Eagle offensive line the whole night. Chris Jones was, well, Chris Jones. And Preston Smith announced himself as the next breakout star in the SEC. He got to the quarterback a couple of times, had an interception and blocked a kick. Smith and Jones give Coach Geoff Collins two dominant pieces to build his defense around.

DL Now and Going Forward: The unit rotated ten defensive linemen in the first game. Those numbers probably need to get trimmed. I would also do some reshuffling. First, Kaleb Eulls has to get demoted in favor of Chris Jones or Nelson Adams and reduced to a spot duty role. With Adams back at Defensive Tackle, there are two options for the other defensive end spot: Use Gerri Green or Dezmond Harris at DE to maximize talent or reduce the rotation to three players: Smith, Ryan Brown and A.J. Jefferson. Hopefully, Torrey Dale steps up and solves the problem.

Linebacker (A-)

I’ll say this about the Bulldog linebackers: They aren’t afraid to hit anybody. Matt Wells, Benardrick McKinney and Beniquez Brown will step up in hole and meet running backs at the point of attack and bring the pain. Their backups weren’t half bad, either. Christian Holmes led the team in tackles and Richie Brown was noticeable the whole night. I do have one gripe from the group and that’s with its leader: McKinney. He made a couple nice tackles, but he wasn’t as disruptive as an All-American should be on a play-by-play basis. He needs to make his presence felt, and he didn’t make himself known on Saturday.

LB Now and Going Forward: I don’t think many changes need to be made to the linebacker position. The redshirt getting pulled off Gerri Green, the Bulldog’s heralded freshman linebacker, could change a few things, though. He’s good enough to take a spot in the two-deep. And I think he would do that if Mullen elects not to redshirt him.

Defensive Back (Incomplete)

It’s hard to grade the defensive backs–as they didn’t really get tested all night. They played well in run support. But defensive backs are ultimately judged off their pass-coverage ability, and they get to display that on Saturday. MSU’s defensive line didn’t give USM’s quarterback time to throw the ball. I can more accurately judge them when MSU plays an SEC opponent.

DB Now and Going Forward: I didn’t grade this unit, but I think they could be one of the SEC’s premiere secondaries. Taveze Calhoun, Jamerson Love, Tolando Cleveland and Will Redmond form a nice foursome at cornerback. Cedric Jiles eventual return will provide even more depth at that spot. At Safety, the Bulldogs are not as strong but still pretty good. Justin Cox moved back to his junior college position of Free Safety and looked more natural there. Jay Hughes, the starting Strong Safety, showed no ill effects from his Achilles injury suffered last year–returning a blocked kick for a touchdown. Kivon Coman, Kendrick Market and Dee Evans provide the Bulldog with capable backups at the spot.

Special Teams (D)

The Bulldog special teams need work. No surprise there.

Kicking/Punting: I don’t know the name of either kicker. I don’t think it matters. They’re both bad. On the bright side, Devon Bell looks top notch at punter after struggling the past two years at Kicker. He put three balls inside the 20. You can’t ask for better than that.

Return Game: Cox and Redmond didn’t get a chance to show their stuff-as the Bulldog defense pitched a shutout. But Lewis and Holloway returned a few punts and were average at best.

ST Now and Going Forward: I don’t think there’s much that can be done at Kicker except for new players. And that’s real. I just hope a game doesn’t come down to a kick. Bell, in my opinion, should have a stellar year at punter. I won’t say that he’ll be All-SEC but he’ll help tilt the field position in the Bulldog’s favor on several occasions.

I don’t know what to expect from Cox and Redmond. But they both can run…like 4.3 speed run. That can’t hurt when returning kicks. I’ve always thought that Lewis could be a great punt returner, but he’s never lived up to it. Let’s see if he can finally do it in 2014.
Google Images/Geoff Collins


Coaching (B)

I think the coaching staff did what they needed to do in the first game while not showing too much.

Game Management: Mullen excelled in this area for a change. He rotated evenly at every position got his key players out when he needed to get them out.

Offensive Play Calling: It seems Mullen has finally seen the light now that people know he’s really the one calling the plays. The offense had a fluidity to it that I haven’t seen in the Mullen Era. And that’s while being vanilla. He protected his main asset, Prescott, by not calling many zone-reads or QB Power plays. I liked the run-pass balance, as well. My praise comes with one caveat: The red-zone play calling was generic and confounding. Why doesn’t Mullen makes things easier on himself? He has a 6’6 Bear at receiver (Wilson), a tight end he can flex(Malcolm Johnson) and a quarterback that gives you the run-pass option(Prescott). I wouldn’t run anything but a zone-read, bootleg or fade route inside the ten.

Why do anything else?

Defensive Play Calling: There wasn’t much to critique. Collins didn’t want to show much. So, his play calling was vanilla. If the defense was that good running their base set, think how good they’ll be once the aggression is turned up.

The Bulldogs are poised for a great season. They will not only compete in the SEC but potentially win it.

Jeremiah Short, Peach State College Sports Contributor

Dare to Dream of Atlanta.

Catch me on the “SportsKrib” on Wednesday’s 8-9 Central. Follow me on social media @DaRealJShort or check out my facebook page JShortJournalist or my Google Plus page J.Short- Journalist


Posted by: jeremiah short // September 1, 2014
 
 
Posted by mlbnbasource

By Jeff P.

All of us had that moment we tried, and fought for something so intensely, with pain and dedication, but despite the fact that we deserved it, we didn’t get it or should I say we got “snubbed”. Why? Probably because the other competitor or contestant was more popular, more known, or all of the above. Well, plenty of rich, talented, and blessed NBA superstars may have that same feeling as i’m writing this article. Some players such as Lance Stephenson went from an unpopular, and low viewed at player to a player who is helping a potential run at a championship. Despite this, they have been snubbed from the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, which is a dream for all athletes to compete in, and play for. The list is long, and hard but the popular vote has overruled the true All-Stars, and it’s nothing that’s being hid.       First of all, let me start off by showing the two complete all star teams. The West team consists of the following players: Starters BC Stephen Curry BC Kobe Bryant FC Kevin Durant FC Blake Griffin FC Kevin Love Reserves BC Chris Paul BC Damian Lillard BC Tony Parker BC James Harden FC LaMarcus Aldridge FC Dirk Nowitzki FC Dwight Howard BC- Backcourt player       FC- Front-court Player           Of course this is a popularity contest for the starters, but this team mostly rewarded well-deserved players. However, there is always the exceptions. The Underserving All Stars: Kobe Bryant:         Of course Kobe Bryant is amazing, and is one of the most talented NBA players in history, although this revelation of him being voted in to start the all star game is just a bit too far. Not that this was unexpected, but Kobe Bryant has played only six games, in where he wasn’t impressive. Don’t get me wrong, Kobe Bryant is still at it, and may even be deserving to this spot had he played. Although he has been injured, and will most likely not even participate in the game. Clearly undeserving of the spot, but in the end it was going to happen whether you liked it or not. Dirk Nowitzki:        Dirk Nowitzki is a great player, but Dirk over Anthony Davis, or even Demarcus Cousins? Dirk has averaged a strong 22 points, a decent six rebounds, and has helped the Mavericks compete for a playoff spot in the tough West. Though when there are players such as Anthony Davis who have been playing with more explosiveness than a nuclear bomb, Dirk just doesn’t deserve it. Remember, this game is for players of this year, and not a few years ago. Blake Griffin:       Blake Griffin deserved an all star spot, and has been great. His dunk have continued, his stats are still up, but is he better than LeMarcus Aldridge? I’d have to say no. Along with Damien Lillard, Aldridge has been unbeatable as he has posted already 29 double-doubles on the season, and led the Blazers to be much better than expected. So did Blake Griffin deserve an all star spot? Certainly, but a starting spot? I think not. The Snubbs: Anthony Davis:       Anthony Davis is still on his rookie contract so he didn’t have enough money to bribe the NBA executives. Davis is the fastest rising star in this association in the league, and is the first player since Shaq to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks in their sophomore year. Additionally, he is also the only player besides for Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson to also average 1.5 steals, along with those stats in his sophomore years. Apparently, the all star game is not for future legends. Goran Dragic:       The Suns were predicted to be along with the Sixers, not just one of the worst teams this season, but one of the worst teams ever. Dragic had other plans. I can write a whole article about the amazing contributions of players like Marcus Morris, and Archie Goodwin, but who are we kidding? The Suns are Dragic’s team. BC Kyrie Irving BC Dwayne Wade FC Lebron James FC Carmelo Anthony FC Paul George Reserves BC Joe Johnson BC John Wall BC Demar Derozan FC   Chris Bosh FC Joakim Noah FC Paul Millsap FC Roy Hibbert BC- Backcourt      FC- Front-court The Underserving All Stars: Joe Johnson:       All of us should be asking the same question: Who did he sleep with? Demar Derozan:        Is this a Canadian thing? because if it was Kyle Lowry should have gotten the nod. Demar Derozan may be leading this team leading the horrific Atlantic Conference, but is that saying much? No. Demar Derozan may be averaging an astounding 22 points, but on 43% shooting from the field, is that really impressive? Not really. Also, the Raptors fans may be scared when I even mention this, but his defense is out of stadium. That is literally out of stadium, because the way Derozan plays defense he might as well not be on the court. In conclusion, should someone be an all star team which is full of team leaders because their leading a team with an easy schedule? No. The Snubbs: Lance Stephenson:         The real question is, who didn’t he sleep with?. Lance Stephenson has been amazing on both sides of the court this year and has went from a little nothing to a superstar. It still shocks me how the coaches didn’t choose him. Why? Maybe it’s because he crushed their teams continuously. Lance Stephenson isn’t only playing a shooting guard, but is also playing point guard for the Pacers as George Hill has been an ineffective point guard, as his passing skills haven’t been high on the charts. Overall, Lance Stephenson does it all. Rebounding, passing, defense, shooting, and all of the above. Kyle Lowry:         Kyle Lowry is the best guard in the country. That is Canada of course. In all seriousness, Lowry has been outstanding and has not only ran the offense, but has been solid on the defensive side. Also Kyle Lowry has averaged nearly 19 points, eight assists, and almost five rebounds in the last 30 days whilst shooting 46% from the field. He’s not only much more deserving than Derozan, but he may even be the best point guard in the Conference.            All I know is, that these coaches screwed up big time, but regardless we are in for an exciting weekend in New Orleans.