William Kevin Wright


Almost  everyone  in America  and,  given  the  international TV  numbers  on Super Bowl

XVIX,  a  good  slice  of  the  world,  is  beyond  tired  of  hearing  about  the  quality  of  the

decision made by Pete Carroll and his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, to throw a

slant  pass  rather  than  handing  the  ball  to  Marshall  Lynch.  And  aggravated  by  the

inability of the Seahawks’ head coach to just say that it was a mistake.

We  have  heard  from  Carroll  and  his  apologists  that  the  time  remaining  on  the  clock

necessitated one pass during that last series, that the combination of the Patriots’ goal

line  defensive  alignment  and  the  offensive  “package”  the  Seahawks  deployed  made

handing Beast Mode the ball problematic, that Lynch’s season record from the 1 yard

line was, on a percentage basis, less than stellar, and on and on and on (including the

ridiculous assertion that the Seahawk organization did not want Lynch, who had gained

4 or 5 yards on the previously play, to be the “hero”).The Last Word on the Last Play (that mattered).

Almost  everyone  in America  and,  given  the  international TV  numbers  on Super Bowl

XVIX,  a  good  slice  of  the  world,  is  beyond  tired  of  hearing  about  the  quality  of  the

decision made by Pete Carroll and his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, to throw a

slant  pass  rather  than  handing  the  ball  to  Marshall  Lynch.  And  aggravated  by  the

inability of the Seahawks’ head coach to just say that it was a mistake.

We  have  heard  from  Carroll  and  his  apologists  that  the  time  remaining  on  the  clock

necessitated one pass during that last series, that the combination of the Patriots’ goal

line  defensive  alignment  and  the  offensive  “package”  the  Seahawks  deployed  made

handing Beast Mode the ball problematic, that Lynch’s season record from the 1 yard

line was, on a percentage basis, less than stellar, and on and on and on (including the

ridiculous assertion that the Seahawk organization did not want Lynch, who had gained

4 or 5 yards on the previously play, to be the “hero”).The Last Word on the Last Play (that mattered).

Almost  everyone  in America  and,  given  the  international TV  numbers  on Super Bowl

XVIX,  a  good  slice  of  the  world,  is  beyond  tired  of  hearing  about  the  quality  of  the

decision made by Pete Carroll and his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, to throw a

slant  pass  rather  than  handing  the  ball  to  Marshall  Lynch.  And  aggravated  by  the

inability of the Seahawks’ head coach to just say that it was a mistake.

We  have  heard  from  Carroll  and  his  apologists  that  the  time  remaining  on  the  clock

necessitated one pass during that last series, that the combination of the Patriots’ goal

line  defensive  alignment  and  the  offensive  “package”  the  Seahawks  deployed  made

handing Beast Mode the ball problematic, that Lynch’s season record from the 1 yard

line was, on a percentage basis, less than stellar, and on and on and on (including the

ridiculous assertion that the Seahawk organization did not want Lynch, who had gained

4 or 5 yards on the previously play, to be the “hero”).The Last Word on the Last Play (that mattered).

Almost  everyone  in America  and,  given  the  international TV  numbers  on Super Bowl

XVIX,  a  good  slice  of  the  world,  is  beyond  tired  of  hearing  about  the  quality  of  the

decision made by Pete Carroll and his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, to throw a

slant  pass  rather  than  handing  the  ball  to  Marshall  Lynch.  And  aggravated  by  the

inability of the Seahawks’ head coach to just say that it was a mistake.

We  have  heard  from  Carroll  and  his  apologists  that  the  time  remaining  on  the  clock

necessitated one pass during that last series, that the combination of the Patriots’ goal

line  defensive  alignment  and  the  offensive  “package”  the  Seahawks  deployed  made

handing Beast Mode the ball problematic, that Lynch’s season record from the 1 yard

line was, on a percentage basis, less than stellar, and on and on and on (including the

ridiculous assertion that the Seahawk organization did not want Lynch, who had gained

4 or 5 yards on the previously play, to be the “hero”).
Picture
 
 
Chip Kelly isn't racist. He's an egomaniac.
Jeremiah Short on March 12, 2015 - 10:35 am in NFC East, NFL, NFL Offseason, Philadelphia Eagles, Uncategorized
Chip Kelly doesn’t deserve to be called a racist. He deserves to be called what he really is: arrogant.

Over the past week, the Philadelphia Eagles have made a series of head-scratching moves. They traded LeSean McCoy, their all-time leading rusher who’s in the prime of his career, for Kiko Alonso, a former Defensive Rookie of the Year who’s still recovering from a torn ACL. They let Jeremy Maclin, their leading receiver( 1,318 receiving yards in 2014), walk in free agency. To top it off, they traded Nick Foles, who made the Pro Bowl in 2013, for the oft-injured Sam Bradford, who’s yet to live up to first-pick-in-the-draft status.

Why? To bolster the defense. Cap room. Insanity.

Stephen A. Smith, one of the host of ESPN’s First Take, had his own theory. “Chip Kelly makes decisions over the last couple of years that, dare I say, leave a few brothers feeling uncomfortable,” Smith said. “I think that’s fair to say. I mean, we’re sitting here looking at some of the decisions that Chip Kelly makes and I’m like what is up? What’s up with that? I mean, it’s like you’ve got to be his kind of guy, you know? And I’m like, well, Riley Cooper’s your kind of guy?”

If you didn’t read the opening line of this column or get the context of Smith’s soliloquy, he’s saying that the black folks in Philly think he’s racist.

How Stephen A. going to call Chip racist? He just signed Byron Maxwell, who’s black. Resigned Mark Sanchez, who’s Mexican. Tried to sign Frank Gore, who’s black. And he’s about to sign DeMarco Murray, who’s black.

You’re right. Chip Kelly isn’t engaging in extreme racism. He’s engaging in extreme hubris.

Kelly has the classic I’m-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room syndrome. If the locker room reports are true, the former college coach runs and tight ship and doesn’t tolerate players bucking up against him.

DeSean Jackson bucked up. Released.

Cary Williams bucked up. Released.

LeSean McCoy bucked up. Traded his butt to Buffalo.

And with Kelly winning a power struggle this past January, he’s now has control of all player personnel moves. So, he’ll establish whatever culture he wants and get rid of anyone who won’t fall in line.

I have to pause and ask the real question: Who the heck is Chip Kelly for him to be able to attain this level of power?

Very few coaches in the NFL have full personnel control. And by a few, I mean Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll. Carroll doesn’t have the final say on draft picks and free agency, though. That’s two coaches who have power over personnel moves…TWO. Kelly is now the third.

In all fairness, let’s review his key personnel moves since he was given full control.

Trading LeSean McCoy: Kelly traded one of the top running backs in the NFL and a great system fit for a player who’s coming off an injury. If Alonso returns to his rookie form, he will improve an Eagle run defense which finished 15th in the NFL. If he doesn’t return to form, you’ve traded one of the most explosive weapons in the NFL for damaged goods.

Let Jeremy Maclin Walk: Maclin signed a five-year, 55 million dollar deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. 11 million a season is a hefty price tag. It may be a smart move to let him walk. But the Eagles are left with Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews as their primary options. That’s assuming Kelly doesn’t draft a receiver.

Trading Nick Foles For Sam Bradford: This was a true I’m-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room syndrome move. He essentially traded Nick Foles for, well, Nick Foles. Bradford is big like Foles. He can’t run like Foles. Bradford just has a quicker release and was drafted first in the draft. There’s nothing to suggest he’s better, though.

In addition to those moves, he released Cary Williams and replaced him with Byron Maxwell, which should improve a porous pass defense that finished 31st in the NFL.

The Eagles defense is better with Kelly’s acquisitions. No doubt. But will they be able to score?

Even if an offensive scheme is complex and innovative, you need talented players who can execute it. As smart as Belichick is ballyhooed to be, he has a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, acquired Randy Moss (2007) and signed LeGarrette Blount, a mercurial but talented running back, to get his team over the hump. Not to mention the fact he took a chance on Aaron Hernandez, who had character concerns coming out of college.

Kelly may know something the rest of us don’t. Maybe LeSean McCoy is about to go into decline. Maybe Jeremy Maclin will never have 1,000 yards receiving again. Maybe Kiko Alonso is the next Ray Lewis. Maybe Sam Bradford becomes a durable, elite quarterback under Kelly’s tutelage. Maybe he had a master plan to sign DeMarco Murray the whole time.

Or maybe Chip Kelly is about to suffer the same fate as every other college coach who thought he could reinvent the NFL: fired and back to the college game where they belonged in the first place.

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.

 
 
By John Breech | CBSSports.com          May 7, 2015 2:40 pm ET
Tom Brady's offseason might extend until 2016 if the NFL decides to drop the proverbial hammer on the Patriots quarterback and at least one report is indicating that the league could slam the hammer down hard.

According to the Miami Herald, Brady could be suspended for up to one year thanks to the part he played in Deflategate.

"Everything is being studied. Everything is being considered," an NFL source told the Herald.

Now, that doesn't mean that Brady will be suspended for the year, but it does mean that the NFL is at least considering it. Brady's punishment could end up being a shorter suspension, but the source told the Herald not to dismiss the possibility of a year-long suspension.

The Patriots quarterback, along with locker attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski are the three people most likely to be disciplined, according to ESPN.com.

The 243-page Wells report found that Brady was "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls."

The report also found that "McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee."

In the report, Wells also noted that Brady refused to turn over his cell phone and other personal information for investigative purposes.

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Will Tom Brady play in 2015? (USATSI)
Brady's refusal to help the investigation could end up being one of the big reasons he's hit with a potentially big suspension.

In the NFL's Policy on Integrity of the Game & Enforcement of Competitive Rules, the league notes that "Failure to cooperate in an investigation shall be considered conduct detrimental to the League and will subject the offending club and responsible individual(s) to appropriate discipline."

Brady's decision to not fully cooperate in the investigation was duly noted in the Wells report.

"Brady's refusal to provide us with his own emails, text messages and phone records on relevant topics, in response to our narrowly tailored requests, limited the evidence available for our review and analysis," the report said.

Whatever Brady's punishment ends up being, it will likely be handed down sometime in the near future.

In a statement after the Wells report was released on Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league "will consider what steps to take in light of the report, both with respect to possible disciplinary action and to any changes in protocols that are necessary to avoid future incidents of this type."

According to ESPN, the NFL will respond to the Wells report in a matter of days, as opposed to a matter of weeks.

Topics: Tom Brady, Deflategate, New England Patriots, NFL
 
 
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Jeremiah Short on March 14, 2015 - 8:05 pm in NBA, NCAA, NFL, Uncategorized
Anguish. Trepidation. Heartbreak. Loss. Exuberance. Tension. Excitement.

All a range of emotions the average person deals with on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. Another class of people deal with these emotions, too: athletes. With the early retirements of Jason Worilds, Jake Locker, Maurice Jones-Drew and Patrick Willis, I was reminded of this reality.

It comes as shock when any athlete retires before their time. We have vivid memories of an old Muhammad Ali being a shell of his former self or Michael Jordan’s ill-fated comeback with the Wizards.

But rarely do we see great athletes retire while they’re on top or in good health. Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Rocky Marciano are notable exceptions.

If Larry Sanders informal retirement from the NBA is added to the equation, five professional athletes have retired prematurely for a variety of reasons in the past month.

Sanders(26). Anxiety and depression.

Worilds(27). Focus on his faith.

Locker(26). Lost his passion for the game.

Drew(29). Focusing on next chapter of his life.

Willis(30). Bad feet and new-found faith.

We ask: Why did they give up so much money? 70-80 million of potential earnings.  But we have to realize athletes are people, too.

As Kevin Durant opined last month during NBA All-Star weekend, they aren’t “robots.”

I’m not here to condemn those who view athletes through the wrong prism. I do it, too. I did it this week when the news first broke that Patrick Willis was retiring to focus on his Christian walk. As a lifelong 49er fan, I selfishly wanted Willis to play a few more years and even questioned him retiring for religious reasons.

How selfish of me to think that way. For one, I’m a Christian who’s questioning another person wanting to be a better Christian. Two, if Willis doesn’t want to play football anymore, it’s his right.

This isn’t the point in the column where I’ll go on a diatribe apologizing for every athlete’s behavior. They aren’t infallible and do mess up. But we have to take a step back and consider what they’re going through on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis.

We don’t think about the college athlete who may be the first person in their family who’s gone to college and the pressure that’s on them to succeed.

We don’t think about the athlete who’s carrying the weight of their whole community on their back.

We don’t think about the athletes who are trying to raise a child while balancing school and practice.

We don’t think about the black athletes who don’t know if they should be socially conscious or protect their endorsements.

We don’t think about the homosexual athlete who has to struggle with keeping their sexual preference a secret because they don’t want the backlash.

We don’t think about the female athlete struggling with gender identity because sports are supposed to be a male thing.

We don’t think about the male athlete who gets falsely accused of rape and has his reputation tarnished because he didn’t want to date a girl.

We really don’t think about the athletes who don’t know if people are there for them because they’re an athlete or because they truly value them.

Now that’s tough.

Imagine how Eric Striker, an Oklahoma Sooner linebacker, felt when he heard the racist SAE chant. He was angered and hurt by the situation.

Disclaimer: Vulgar language in both videos.

Athletes are routinely hurt, though. Sometimes hurt by those close to them.

Take Tyrone Smith, a Dallas Cowboys left tackle, for example: Smith agreed to pay his family a set amount when he signed his rookie contract. After he paid that amount, his family harassed him for more money. It got to the point where he needed a restraining order against his parents. Sadly, many athletes have to deal with similar situations.

There’s always someone out for a piece of what you got. And the athletes feel obligated to give it to them. They might be family. They might be close friends. They might be someone who has taken a charge for them.

They’re targets. Targets because of the money they have or are about to have.

Ask Dak Prescott, who is Mississippi State’s starting quarterback and future NFL Draft pick. He was trying to enjoy spring break in Panama City. As he left a concert, he was jumped and hit over the head with a bottle. He was fine. But what if he wasn’t. What if his career was ended? That’s a team’s whole season down the drain. Those are millions of dollars lost.

For what? Because someone didn’t like what he said to them. Prescott’s career was almost ended for nothing. Not on the field of play or a car accident. His career was almost ended because he attended a concert during his final spring break as a college student and a group of hoodlums decided to jump him and brag about it.

That’s what athletes have to deal with every day.

To make matters worse, if Prescott throws an interception in a key game next season, he’ll get death threats from fans and get scrutinized by the media.

Dak the player would have messed up. No one will stop ask how Dak the person is doing.

That’s not right.

Athletes are people, too.

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.

 
 
Following the NCAA's ruling, Joe Paterno now sits ahead of Bobby Bowden on the all-time wins list with 409 victories. Jeremiah Short on January 22, 2015 - 9:05 am in NCAA, NCAA Football, Uncategorized
Jeremiah Short, Feature Columnist

The NCAA was right to restore Joe Paterno’s wins, even if America disagrees with the decision.

Jerry Sandusky committed a vile and heinous crime. The now deceased Paterno, who’s the All-time winningest college football coach once again, was complicit in at least a portion of them. But that’s what they were…crimes…not an act which gave Penn State a competitive advantage.

It darn sure should not have cost “State College” four-years of postseason play (later reduced to two-years), 60-million dollars, reduced scholarships(later restored, as well) , and it darn sure should have not cost Paterno 111 victories (1998-2011).

But it did.

“Joe Pa” deserved to have his reputation tarnished. He was wrong. He allowed a predator to prey on helpless children. Stripping him of his victories was “grandstanding”, though.  Point. Blank. Period.

I was elated when I heard that Paterno’s wins were being restored. Not a “409 Billboard” elated(Really Penn State). But I was elated that a wrong was righted.

What the heck you talking about? Joe Paterno let that man rape those children. He deserved everything that happened to him.

America, I’m glad you interjected. I have a few questions for you.

First Question: How many times have you overlooked the homeless person asking for a dollar to get something to eat?

Second Question: How many of you have overlooked the classmate bullying the gay or transgender classmate?

Third Question: How many of you have overlooked the shooting of an unarmed black teen?

Fourth Question: How many of you have overlooked the friend who is beating on their spouse or significant other?

Final Question: How many of you have overlooked child molestation in your own family?

Umm. Well…Uhh

I thought you’d be a bit flustered. Let me explain why those transgressions are just as bad as what Paterno did.

Homelessness is a growing epidemic. It’s estimated that there are 100 million people without a roof over their head in the world. There are up to 2.5 million in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, alone. America spends money on luxuries they don’t need. Electronics. Jewelry. Cars.

But they won’t give a homeless person a sandwich or a dollar.

The suicide rate for Gay and Transgender youth is much higher than that of normal youth. That rate is 2.5 times higher in youths who’ve been bullied. If that’s extrapolated, how many lives have been cost because someone didn’t step in to stop the bullying?

The cases of unarmed black teens getting gunned down are well-documented. Oscar Grant. Trayvon Martin. Mike Brown.

In seemingly every one of those cases, the teen was demonized and made out to be a criminal while the perpetrators were seen as justified in their actions, although the circumstances have been suspicious. America’s lack of empathy toward those individuals emboldens the next cop or neighborhood watchmen to use deadly force in an altercation. Why not? You’ll be made out to be a hero and get donations.

Domestic violence is a growing epidemic. One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. One in three female homicide victims will be at the hands of a significant other or former significant other. The domino effect is even greater. Women who are trying to escape abusers end up homeless in some cases. Girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to it. Boys who witness domestic violence are more prone to become abusers themselves.

Those stats are outright scary, right. But when we hear our friend talk about how he had to put his wife or girl in line, what’s our normal response? Oh, that’s wild. Not a chill out with that mess or you need some help…just a that’s wild. I’m honest enough to say I’ve done it in the past.

How many deaths have we been complicit in?

Joe Paterno was complicit in the molestation of several children. But we all have been complicit. Who doesn’t have the creepy uncle or weird family friend?

Child molestation devastates families and leaves everlasting scars. Most times, it’s covered up because the family doesn’t want the embarrassment or scandal. They don’t want their neighbors to gossip. They aren’t protecting an institution as huge as Penn State. They’re protecting themselves from a few phone calls or wandering eyes.  That’s all.

How many of those victims–male and female–become promiscuous, turn to drugs or commit suicide? All because their family decided they didn’t want to sully their good name.

America, you have to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:1-5: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but you do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Joe Paterno was wrong. But America is hypocritical for judging him, too.

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.

 
 
By Jeremiah Short, Featured Columnist
Mississippi State’s Orange Bowl loss is a reminder that they aren’t where they need to be yet.

Mississippi State is hoping to become one of the elite teams in college football. On Wednesday, they realized that they still have some work to do to reach that status.

The Bulldogs entered the Orange Bowl wanting to cap off a magical season, which saw them hold the number-one ranking in both polls for five straight weeks. The match-up seemed to fit what they did well. Georgia Tech excelled at running the ball, and the Bulldogs excelled at stopping it.

It’s a game that the Bulldogs should have won easily on paper. Well, games aren’t played on paper. Georgia Tech dominated with the triple-option from the first to the fourth quarter. The Yellow Jackets know it’s their bread-and-butter. “That’s our game, no matter who we play,” said Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech’s starting quarterback who ran for 125 yards and a touchdown. “That’s what we’re going to do.”

The Bulldogs didn’t win the game. But it’s not like they didn’t do the right things to win the game–including following my keys to victory.

A quick recap.

1.Push the tempo: I was actually impressed that Dan Mullen, Mississippi State’s head coach, decided to start the game off pushing the tempo. He usually mixes it in throughout the course of the game. But he decided to push the tempo from the opening drive. When that drive came up short, he kept pushing the tempo. When the next drive came up short, he kept pushing the tempo. He had a game plan, and he was going to stick to it. Eventually, it did pay off. The Bulldogs had one of the best days in school history through the air. By the end of the game, Dak Prescott had the second-best passing day (453 yards) of any Bulldog quarterback in history.

The Bulldogs lost. But it wasn’t because the offense didn’t do what they needed to do.

2.Protect from the deep ball: Sadly, the Bulldogs failed in this area. Darren Waller, Georgia Tech’s star receiver, consistently got over the top and had 114 receiving yards. The Yellow Jackets would have had more yards through the air if Thomas could have connected on a few open throws. The Bulldogs lack of talent at the safety position showed up again. (More on them in the Final Take)

3. Handle the moment: For the most part, the Bulldogs handled the moment. As I watched the game, I never got the feeling that the team was in over its head. I think they just weren’t prepared for a triple-option that most of the players haven’t seen since high school. It should be noted that the Bulldogs defensive coordinator, Geoff Collins, had left for Florida during bowl practices. It’s hard for me to believe that the Bulldogs defense wouldn’t have played a little better if they had their leader.

While the Bulldog players seemed to handle the moment well, their head coach thought it was a confirmation of what he thought the program could become. “The last time was kind of one of the most surreal, weirdest experience you’d ever have in your life,” Mullen said. “I ran on the field, took a picture with the crystal ball trophy, and ran to get home to go to sleep and have a team meeting to try to build a program that could come back here. I think everybody doubted that. Everybody everywhere doubted that we could build a program that could actually come back here, and then here we are.”

As I wrote earlier in the season, I never thought I’d see the day where Mississippi State would be in the position it was in throughout the season. They were the premier team in college football for five weeks. Heck, I would have taken a top-25 ranking when I was in college. It was only a pipedream for Mississippi State to rule college football for even a minute. But they did rule college football. And that’s a memory no one can take away.

Mississippi State will forever be the answer to the trivia question: Which team was ranked number one in the inaugural “College Football Playoff” poll?

“We did a lot of things that this school has never done,” Prescott said. “The senior class led us to new standards, and that’s a success in itself of setting a standard for this university and this football team and I think we did that this year.”

If there’s anything the Bulldogs have eliminated, it’s the “But We Mississippi State Syndrome” that has infected the Mississippi State fan base throughout their history. Fans believe in what the Bulldogs are trying to do now. Higher student enrollment, more donations and increased revenue will be the byproduct of this season.

“It’s very disappointing to end the season on a loss,” Mullen said. “But we have a lot to build on, and we have to find a way to make the 2015 edition even better.”

The Bulldogs success in 2015 depends on the return of Prescott.

Hot Takes

  • There’s uncertainty right now about whether Dak Prescott is returning to Mississippi State. Brent Musberger relayed during the Orange Bowl that Dak told him that he was returning. But after the game, Dak refuted the report. I will take Musberger’s side in this controversy. I don’t believe a man that respected in the industry would just go out and make a statement like that just for headlines. Dak probably had every intention of returning until he threw for 453 yards and three touchdowns. I would have changed my mind, too. But I don’t think it’s right to say that Musberger was lying. We’ll see what the real truth is after Dak talks with his family.
  • Josh Robinson announced on Instagram before the game that he was turning pro. He didn’t have the perfect swansong—rushing for only 75 yards. Good luck J.Rob in the NFL. It was a pleasure to watch and write about you the past few years.
  • De’Runnya Wilson, Fred Ross and Joe Morrow put on a show on Wednesday–combining for 21 catches, 319 yards and three touchdowns. Good news: They’re all returning next season. (More on them in the Final Take).
  • A.J. Jefferson deserves some props for the way he played in the Orange Bowl(four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Yes, the team struggled on defense, but he was one of the lone bright spots.
  • In what is probably his last game as a Bulldog, Benardrick McKinney came to play–with ten tackles on the night. He probably would have had more tackles if not for Mississippi State’s 1A/1B concept.
  • DeShea Townsend is a good cornerback coach with pro experience. But let’s just say he’s a few years away from being a defensive coordinator at the college level.
Jones will be a key in the success of the Bulldogs in 2015.

Final Take

Obviously, the question now is: Can the Bulldogs repeat their 2014 season in 2015? If Dak Prescott returns, they can. And I believe he will.

Why? Coach Mullen and his staff have done a good job of evaluating talent–building incredible depth.

Offensively, we got an early glimpse of what the 2015 version might look like in the Orange Bowl…an up-tempo offense that’s built around the passing game.

At the quarterback position, Dak Prescott is the number one. But the back-up spot will be up for grabs. Damian Williams, Elijah Staley and Nick Fitzgerald will vie for the spot in the spring.

With the departure of Josh Robinson, the running back position is up for grabs. Ashton Shumpert is the natural replacement as the bell cow. But Aeris Williams, Mississippi’s 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year, might have something to say about that. Brandon Holloway will find a way to get the mix as the change-of-pace back. Dontavian Lee and incoming freshmen–Malik Dear and Nick Gibson could vie for carries, too.

Receiver is Mississippi State’s most experienced and talented position headed into next season. De’Runnya Wilson, Fred Ross, Joe Morrow and Fred Brown are not only the Bulldogs best receivers but also might be the focal point of the entire offense next season. And for good reason, they accumulated 1,812 yards and eighteen touchdowns (66 percent of Prescott’s passing touchdowns in 2014).

The aforementioned receivers are outside guys. Mississippi State has three inside guys: Donald Gray, Jamoral Graham and Gabe Myles who are explosive in their own right. They could reap the rewards of a talented outside group.

Adding in Gus Walley and B.J. Hammond at the tight end position into consideration, I’d be surprised if the Bulldogs don’t finish in the top-10 nationally in passing yards per game next season.

Mississippi State loses Ben Beckwith, Dillon Day and Blaine Clausell to graduation. So, the offensive line has to replace some key parts. But I don’t think there will be much of a talent drop off. Devon Desper will slide in to center. Jamaal Clayborn, who rotated with Beckwith as a freshman in 2013, should take over for Beckwith at right guard. Clausell’s replacement is the real question mark. Juco transfer Martinas Rankin will get the first shot. But the question remains if he’s tall enough to protect the quarterback’s blind side. And I think there are serious questions if Justin Senior can move from the right to left side or if Cole Carter is capable of playing left in the SEC.

Kent Flowers, Elgton Jenkins and Jake Thomas are three names to remember on the offensive line, as well.

The 2015 offense might have a drop off in a few areas. I don’t think that will be the case for the 2015 defense.

All-SEC players Preston Smith and Benardrick McKinney (Likely entering the NFL Draft) are huge losses. But with the talent on that side of the ball, I think Mississippi State is capable of absorbing their departures.

On the defensive line, A.J. Jefferson will take Preston Smith’s spot. He will form a pretty good duo with Ryan Brown, who could evolve the way Smith did in 2014. After those two guys, Will Coleman, a Juco transfer who was forced to redshirt in 2014, likely is the third defensive end. Torrey Dale, Johnathon Calvin and Grant Harris will battle it out for the last slot at defensive end.

While the defensive end position has question marks, defensive tackle does not. Chris Jones, Nick James and Nelson Adams will be relied upon to fill the void left by P.J. Jones and Kaleb Eulls. I think they will. Braxton Hoyett, Corey Thomas and incoming freshman Fletcher Adams will battle it out for the remaining reps. I got my money on Adams. He could be an All-SEC freshman. He’s that good.

Receiver is the most talented position on offense. Linebacker is the most talented position on the defensive side of the football. Beniquez Brown could be pre-season All-SEC. Richie Brown, who had a solid season backing up McKinney, will start at one of the linebacker spots, whether it’s the Sam, Mike or Will. He played the Mike this season. But I don’t if he’s suited to play in the middle. He’s just not enough of a thumper. Gerri Green, who redshirted in 2014, will start at one of the linebacker positions in 2015, in my opinion. He’s too good of player to keep off the field. I called him a “program changer” on Signing Day. I still believe that he is. The rest of the nation will find out next season.

The Bulldogs have some talent behind those three guys. Traver Jung, a Juco transfer, is talented enough to start for most SEC teams. I expect him to be the fourth linebacker next year. Dezmond Harris, Zach Jackson and Quadry Antoine will battle it out for the remaining two slots. If Darrien McNair, an incoming freshman, is ready to contribute, he could figure into the mix, too.

Will Redmond and Taveze Calhoun return to give the Bulldogs a terrific tandem at cornerback. Cedric Jiles returns from injury. Tolando Cleveland, a rising junior, should provide depth. The sleeper at cornerback is incoming freshman Chris Stamps. The kid has the size, speed and the ball skills to compete for a spot in the two-deep as a true freshman.

Oh the safety position. Kivon Coman and J.T. Gray and Brandon Bryant are SEC-level players. But they’re the only ones at the safety position. Jamal Peters, a four-star recruit, can’t get on campus fast enough. He’s an immediate two-deep player and probable starter. He’ll be a definite talent upgrade and give the Bulldogs something they’ve lacked at the position: a presence.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention special teams. Devon Bell and Evan Sobiesk give the Bulldogs rare stability at kicker and punter.

I would like to see more from the Bulldogs return game in 2015, though. Fred Ross looked solid returning punts after replacing the struggling Jamoral Graham this past season. But I still want to see more. Donald Gray should help with that. He was an explosive punt returner this past season in junior college. He’ll be expected to do the same for Mississippi State next season.

At kick returner, Brandon Holloway has to finally break out. Aeris Williams, Nick Gibson and possibly Jamoral Graham are three names to keep an eye on for the other spot.

The “Dawgs” are expected to have a drop off in 2015. But If they stay hungry, I think they’ll build upon the successful 2014 campaign.

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.

 
 
Marcus Smart is the perfect building block for the Celtics next phase.
Jeremiah Short on December 24, 2014 - 4:35 pm
Boston Celtics, NBA, NBA Draft, NBA Top Story, NBA: Eastern Conference, Uncategorized
Jeremiah Short, Feature Columnist


The Boston Celtics have decided to end the Rajon Rondo era and start the Marcus Smart era. While it’s a bit premature, it’s the right move for an organization in the midst of a rebuilding project.

Nearly a week ago, the Celtics traded away Rajon Rondo, who was the last remnant of the “Big 3” era. The move didn’t come as a surprise-as it was inevitable following their selection of Marcus Smart, a point guard, with the 6th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

The immediate question: Is Smart ready to take over?

The answer: yes and no.

Smart isn’t quite ready to handle everything that comes with being a point guard in the NBA. His shot selection is still suspect. His jumper is weak. And he’s only been playing the position for two years. All reasons to be hesitant on turning the reigns of an entire organization over to the passionate, first-year player.

Smart’s intangibles make up for his lack of polish, though. He’s a tremendous leader and has overcome a rough background to become a top pick in the NBA Draft. In addition to his intangibles, he’s a terrific defensive player with the length(6’9.25 wingspan) and size(6’3, 227) to guard three positions: point guard, shooting guard and small forward.

“Some of that stuff depends on the personality, how you play, what your expectations of that person are,” said Stevens. “You can be a floor leader and not have the ball all the time. He has the disposition to be a leader. He has a lot of growth that has to occur because he’s 20-years-old. But one thing we know right out of the gate is that we have a lot of versatility defensively with that lineup.”

The other interesting aspect of the Celtics making Smart their franchise player and jettisoning Rondo is that it would have been the right organizational decision even if they were both 20-year olds.

Here’s why.

Smart is more versatile: Rondo is a great defender and has the ability to guard two positions—point and shooting guard. But offensively, he can only play point guard.

Smart is the exact opposite. He can guard the three positions I mentioned earlier in the column. And eventually as he develops, he’ll be able to man those positions offensively, as well.

Smart is less mercurial: Smart’s incident with the Texas Tech fan last year is well-documented. I actually wrote a column in response to it. He hasn’t garnered a reputation as a malcontent or ticking time bomb, though. If the shoving incident is taken into context (His mother was being rushed to the hospital before the game.), I think it would be viewed more sympathetically, instead of with derision.

Rondo in retrospect has the reputation as a mercurial, volatile player who the Celtics were hesitant to give a big contract to because of those issues. I don’t make that statement to cast aspersions on Rondo. Franchise player’s normally have issues. Ego. Entourages. Off-the-court drama. But they have to at least be manageable. Rondo isn’t manageable.

Smart fits the franchise player model: Before the 2013-2014 NBA season, I introduced an equation to evaluate franchise players. I broke them down into three types: the dominant big man, the swingman and the playmaking point guard.

Smart fits the playmaking point guard model. Yes, he’s still transitioning and learning the position. But as he gains experience, I think he will resemble a more powerful, physical John Wall type of player with better defensive skills.

With the right pieces around him, Smart could lead the Celtics back to prominence sooner rather than later. The Celtics have accumulated the draft picks to bring in some of those pieces to put around him.

2015 NBA Draft: two 1st-round picks, three 2nd-round picks.

2016 NBA Draft: two 1st-round picks, four 2nd-round picks.

2017 NBA Draft: one 1st-round picks, one 2nd-round picks.

For a rebuilding project that I view as a three-year process, those draft choices will be valuable assets. The 2015 Draft is loaded, too. Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Stanley Johnson and Emmanuel Mudiay will likely be available. Assuming the Celtics miss the playoffs, they would be in position to take at least one of those talents.

It’s not like the Celtics don’t have pieces already in place, though. Kelly Olynyk had a solid rookie season. Jared Sullinger is a solid big. Evan Turner is flashing some of the potential that he showed at Ohio State. And James Young, my number-one rated shooting guard in the 2014 Draft, could be an excellent wingman to Smart.

“The confidence that [the organization] has in these young players, including myself, is tremendous,” Smart said. “It was a big move from the guys upstairs and just showed how they believed in these young guys and this young team that they have.

The team-first attitude exhibited in this quote is exactly why the Celtics future is bright with Smart leading the way.

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.


 
 
Jeremiah Short on December 1, 2014 - 8:05 AM
NBA, NFL, Uncategorized
Jeremiah Short, Feature Columnist


What’s doing the right thing?

That’s the question I’ve asked myself the past week after the “Ferguson” grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson.

Should I incite the riot or do I calm it down? It’s really a tough dilemma for most in the Black community.

On one hand, we’re upset that another unarmed black teen was gunned down like his life didn’t matter. On the other hand, we don’t know all the full details and don’t want to make someone out to be a martyr who doesn’t deserve the distinction.  

It’s especially close to my heart–as I’ve been racially profiled and branded a criminal when I was just trying to drive home after a long night working at a newspaper. There’s nothing more dehumanizing than police dogs surrounding your car and being carted off to jail for a frivolous charge. I was exonerated and escaped with my life. Sadly, many young brothers aren’t so lucky.

Viewing Ferguson through a sports lens, I’ve been touched by the words of LeBron James and Ben Watson. Watson’s Facebook post on Ferguson was poignant and gripping. His words captured what most in the black community were feeling regarding Ferguson.

Pain. Sadness. Anger. Curiosity.

The black community does want justice for another black life lost. But they also want to know how to prevent it from happening again. Next time this happens it could be their brother. It could be their father. It could be THEM.

How do we prevent another senseless murder? UNITY.

Unity in the black community. Unity in the white community. And unity between the black and white community.

The black community must unite so that we can mobilize and push for change in a positive way. And I don’t mean by rioting. That’s destructive to our own communities and confirms a thought process that black people are animals who don’t know how to act right.

The white community must show unity, as well. They must come together and decide that they’re tired of young, black kids getting killed, too. It’s tough for some whites to empathize. But they have to if change is to happen.

Ultimately, the black and white communities need to come together and unite as one to bridge the racial divide in America. I’ll be frank in saying that I’m tired of the back and forth every time a sensitive racial topic comes across the news feed.

It’s literally always the same conversation.

Black Person: Oh, the cop was racist and killed the kid for no reason.

White Person: Oh, he was a thug who wasn’t raised right.

Black Person: Oh, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just defending your own.

White Person: Oh, I’m tired of y’all pulling the race card.

And it goes on for days with no resolution. No one stops and tries to figure out the real details of the situation. They just go back and forth destroying each other. I’m tired of it. Not only am I tired of it. …I’m sick and tired of it.

Everyone needs to STOP!!!

How do we unite? We unite by first starting the dialogue.

As a Christian, I feel the first place to start is in the Church. It’s been said that the most segregated place in America is the Church on Sunday mornings.  It’s unfathomable that the Christian community is so separated–especially when they’re commanded to come together as one.

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought,” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:10.

With the church community coming together as one, that would help with the second part of my plan to unite everyone: understanding.

People fear what they don’t understand. Let’s eliminate that fear and understand each other. Once the dialogue starts in the Church community and then grows into the community at large, the racial barriers will start to get broken down. That “black” friend will become a friend. That “white” friend will become a friend. We’ll start to see each other as people, not a person from another race.

Finally, I think America can unite through sport. Sport has a way of uniting people. It’s no surprise that football, the most popular sport in America, is the one that all races love. It goes beyond the field of play. Athletes have a unique ability to make people pay attention and inspire change. Articles get written when St.Louis Rams’ players hold their hands up in solidarity with the protesters in Ferguson. Instagram posts from LeBron James get reposted and shared across social media. Facebook post from Ben Watson go viral and make people think.

Sport has the power to galvanize and unite people. Unity is what we all should want. That’s the only way the racial divide will be bridged in America.

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.


 
 
Plays like Amari Cooper made Saturday are what separates Mississippi State and Alabama.

It’s not easy being the “Top Dawg” in college football. Mississippi State found that out the hard way Saturday night.

The 2014 season has been a growing experience for “State.” They went from a team looking for their first statement victory to top-25 team to the best team in college football in just a few short weeks.

In that time, they went from the hunter to the prey–a position no up-and-coming team is truly prepared to handle.

While holding that No.1 ranking, the Bulldogs showed tremendous resiliency and found ways to win games where they didn’t play their best.

The one by-product of not playing your best, though, is that teams develop bad habits. Alabama exploited Mississippi State’s bad habits on Saturday.

Try to bounce the ball outside against the Arkansas’ of the world. You might make a play or get a few yards. Against Alabama, you get taken down in the end zone for a safety.

“Josh [Robinson] was trying to make a play he didn’t need to. He should’ve kept it up inside, but he tried to bounce it outside to make a play. The guys are just trying to make plays out there on the field in big games, which you don’t have any problems with, ” Mullen said in his post-game press conference.

Robinson wasn’t the only Bulldog to make mental errors. Star quarterback Dak Prescott threw three interceptions–essentially eliminating himself from Heisman contention.

There were other mental lapses such as Justin Malone committing a false start on the one-yard line and a drop by Jameon Lewis on a key drive.

But even with all the mental lapses and errors, the Bulldogs had an opportunity to win the game. And that’s says a lot about where Mississippi State is as a program.

I thought you don’t believe in moral victories.

I don’t. But I do believe in assessing where a program ranks in the college football hierarchy. If Saturday’s game proved anything, it’s that Mississippi State is on par with the rest of the college football’s elite. As I stated in my preview for this game, Alabama is the gold standard in college football. And they had to play mistake-free, conservative football just to come away with the victory.

That shows two things.

1. Alabama respected Mississippi State enough to not get aggressive–fearing they would make a costly mistake.

2. The gap is closing between Mississippi State and Alabama. And by proxy, they’re closing the gap with the rest of nation’s elite teams.

The proverbial gap closing can be quantitatively measured with the last seven final scores between Alabama and Mississippi State.

Last seven final scores: 32-7, 31-3, 30-10, 24-7, 38-7, 20-7, 25-20.

Outside of the 2012 game, the games between Alabama and Mississippi State are becoming more evenly matched by the year. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I’ve long been one of Mullen’s biggest critics. But he, along with his staff, deserves credit for finding and developing the undervalued talent on the Bulldog’s roster. His ability to do both is the reason Mississippi State is competing with Alabama, which, to put it mildly, has more heralded players.

“(They) probably have more 5-star players sitting on the bench that can’t get a rep on their team than we have on our roster,” Mullen opined before the Alabama game.

Mullen isn’t lying, either. Mississippi State has one five-star recruit (Chris Jones). Alabama has, well, a lot of them.

Forget the rankings for a second. Mississippi State still has several elite talents: Dak Prescott, Josh Robinson, De’Runnya Wilson, Jameon Lewis, Preston Smith, Chris Jones, Benardrick McKinney and Will Redmond.

Even with those stars, though, the “Dawgs” are one or two elite players short. The two big plays given up to Amari Cooper are proof.

First Big Play: Amari Cooper lines up in the slot and is one on one with Jay Hughes. The end result is an easy Alabama score.

Second Big Play: Amari Cooper streaks up the seam and both Mississippi State safeties are in position to make the play and Cooper just goes up and gets it over them. It’s one of those classic “I’m-Better-Than-You” plays.

Mississippi State has players that can make those plays. But Alabama has a few more of them. And that’s what separates the two teams and possibly Mississippi State from the rest of the nation’s elite–a couple of Bobby’s and Joe’s.

The Bulldogs are expected to get a few more of those guys, though, over the next few years. As I type this column, they’re ranked 13th in 2015 recruiting (247 Sports). The Bulldogs have become a national title contender with classes ranked 25th and below. Imagine what they’ll do with a top-15 class.

Mississippi State may have fell short Saturday. But they’ve arrived as one of nation’s elite. And they’re not going anywhere.

J.Short’s Hot Takes

  • Dak Prescott’s chances of being drafted in the early rounds were pretty much dashed Saturday night. Dak made a few plays, but he made two poor throws that may have cost his team the game. The saving grace is that his issues are correctable. You can’t correct arm talent or poor mental acumen but stubbornness can be corrected. And that’s Dak’s main issue. With experience, Dak will throw fewer interceptions and become a more efficient, viable NFL prospect.
  • Before the Alabama game, I asked for more “Bear.” Apparently the Mississippi State coaches listened. De’Runnya Wilson got the ball thrown his way early and often. Oddly enough, he probably should have been featured more. He had eight catches for 88 yards, but should have had more targets. The Alabama corners were completely mismatched and the Mississippi State coaches should have recognized it and thrown it his way every time he was one on one with a Alabama corner.
  • Salute to Preston Smith. He had another good performance against a quality opponent. Not only is he an All-American candidate but he’s now a serious pro prospect. With a good NFL combine, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him taken in the first three rounds. You don’t find too many defensive ends that have the versatility to play the seven, five or three technique. Smith can do that and it makes him valuable.
  • There’s no reason to mince words with this statement. J.T. Gray needs to replace Zach Jackson on the 1B unit. Jackson has been the cause of too many big plays. Mississippi State has traditionally made young players wait their turn. In this case, they can’t do that. Gray has star potential and needs to be on the field.
  • Mississippi State is looking to become an elite team. To become elite, you need elite players or at least SEC-level ones. One position where Mississippi State doesn’t have SEC-level talent is safety. Justin Cox and Kivon Coman are SEC-level talents. But the rest of the unit leaves little to be desired. Jay Hughes and Kendrick Market are just not where it’s at. The coaching staff has to put a focus on recruiting 6’1-plus, 205 pounds and over safeties. They took a similar approach with the wide receiver position–recruiting De’Runnya Wilson, Fred Ross and Fred Brown. I’ll say that paid off. I think recruiting bigger safeties would yield the same results.
J.Short’s Final Take

With Mississippi State only falling three spots to fourth the College Football Playoff Poll, they’re in the position to control their own destiny. It’s pretty simple. Mississippi State wins out and they’re in the playoffs. I don’t think the Bulldogs could ask for more. Now all they have to do go out and finish strong.

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.

 
 
The Mullen-led Bulldogs showed again Saturday that they’re ready for the spotlight.


Before the Kentucky game, I asked: Could the Bulldogs handle being the prey, instead of being the hunter?

The answer so far: yes.

The Bulldogs fended off Kentucky in their first game as the No.1 team in the nation. This past Saturday, they held off an upset-minded Arkansas squad. It wasn’t easy, either.

Arkansas brought their “A” game. They hit the Bulldogs in the mouth and dared them to beat them in a defensive struggle. They even jumped ahead 10-0. Faced with adversity for the first time this season, the Bulldogs rose to the challenge. Slowly but surely, they chipped away at the Razorback lead and pulled ahead…holding on to a seven point lead throughout the fourth quarter with Will Redmond sealing the game with an interception on the Razorback’s final drive.

The win showed the resiliency that this Bulldog squad possesses now. Two years ago, they lose that game.

“Looking back, Saturday was a great win for us. We have had to win games a lot of different ways, and we knew we were going to have to coming into this season. Before the game we actually talked to our team about that. We have won some high scoring games, and now we have won a low scoring game. We have won by holding on to leads, and now we have won by coming from behind. We have won running the ball well, and we have won games where we had to throw the ball well. We have won with goal line stands, and we have had to make offensive plays to win games. I am proud of our guys, and I think they understand all the ways they are going to have to win, “Dan Mullen on the Bulldogs overcoming adversity this past Saturday.

Mullen’s correct. The Bulldogs have won in every imaginable way. The LSU game was won with good ole fashion dominant, physical football. The Texas A&M game was won with great offensive football. The Auburn game was won by capitalizing on turnovers. The Kentucky game was won by a star performance from Josh Robinson. And the Arkansas game was won by stout defensive play.

The Bulldogs “Psycho D” was darn impressive, too. The goaline stands from the Bulldogs Saturday are the ones that define championship teams. There’s nothing more demoralizing than having the ball inside the five and the opposing team shuts you down for four straight plays.

That’s what the Bulldogs did to the Razorbacks…demoralized them. They could smell the upset. But the Bulldogs showed why they’re the best team in the country.

The victory was a tough one. But it’s on to the next one, which just so happens to be Mid-Major opponent Tennessee-Martin.

It’s a game with its own storyline–as the Skyhawks are quarterbacked by former Bulldog Dylan Favre.

“He is a play maker. I know that. We always knew that when he was here. If you put him out there exciting things are going to happen. Some good and some bad. I do not know if it gives us much of an advantage. He is going to be used to this environment. He has played in this stadium and has been in that environment before,” said Mullen.

He’ll surely try to put on a show. But the game is a proverbial “Bye Week.”

This weekend could serve as an opportunity for the Bulldogs to get ailing players–Dak Prescott and Jameon Lewis rest.

The matchup will also give inexperienced players: Ashton Shumpert, Jamoral Graham, Devon Desper, Quadry Antoine and J.T. Gray a chance for some game reps.

The additional reps could prove vital as the Bulldogs prepare for their road game against Alabama, which could be a One vs. Two showdown.

College Gameday, ESPN’s premiere college football show, will probably be in Tuscaloosa for the cross-state rivalry game that could be one the most important and hyped in the history of the series. It very well could determine the SEC West and alter the national championship race.

Bama Wins: The SEC chances of two bids in the College Football Playoff vastly increase. For two reasons: if Alabama runs the table, they represent the SEC West and the Bulldogs likely are left with one loss and holding one of the slots in the playoffs. If Auburn runs the table–beating Alabama–they’re only loss is to the number one ranked team and they’ll likely secure a playoff bid, as well.

MSU Wins: Alabama is eliminated from playoff contention. MSU and Auburn are then the only SEC teams with a chance to make it into the playoffs.

The pressure is about to be put on the “Dawgs.” They beat inferior opponents who brought their “A” games the past two weeks. Let’s see what happens against Alabama.

I doubt Josh Robinson is worried, though. “Throughout the season we are going to have to face adversity, and that just shows you what kind of team we are. If we just keep playing Mississippi State ball, we’ll be fine.”

The Bulldogs will be fine. They’re resilient.

J.Short’s Hot Takes

  • Dak Prescott’s NFL prospects will become just as big a story as his Heisman hopes as the season presses along. On Saturday, he showed why he has a bright future in the NFL but he also showed why it shouldn’t be next year.
Prescott was proficient from the pocket—lighting up Arkansas for 331 through the air (Career High). In the process, he threw two interceptions. One interception was a result of Prescott getting hit as he threw the ball. But as he matures, he will learn to sidestep that defender, instead of trying to be tough by standing tall in the pocket. The second interception was a result of Prescott locking onto a receiver with three defenders around. It’s a habit he has that must be broken. The good part is that his problems are correctable. Another year in school would help Prescott develop into a top-10 or top-15 draft choice. Hopefully, he chooses that option.

  • The hype is on Dak. But J.Rob deserves some praise as well. He didn’t run the ball well versus Arkansas. But he did have 110 receiving yards. Robinson will be on the NFL radar by the end of the season if he isn’t already.
  • The Bulldogs offensive line deserves some kudos for their performance Saturday. They didn’t allow a sack to a talented and physical defensive line.
  • The real Chris Jones showed up…to the tune of four tackles, one tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries. It’s about time.
  • Matt Wells deserves some praise for his performance against Arkansas. Nine tackles, two pass break ups and two quarterback hurries. His chase down tackle of Alex Collins might have saved the game for the Bulldogs–as he would have scored.
  • Will Redmond impresses me more and more every game. He may not be the starter at cornerback on the official depth chart, but he’s clearly the best cornerback on the roster.
  • Evan Sobiesk’s connecting on a kick longer than 30 yards was huge as Coach Mullen stated. If he can begin to hit those kicks on the regular, the Bulldogs are in a much better position in close games.
  • I was excited after watching the way Coach Collins rotated the linebackers on Saturday. He mixed the 1A and 1B units for the first time all season. It was move that many were waiting to see. Benardrick McKinney, Beniquez Brown and Christian Holmes on the field is particularly nice to see. They’re the smartest linebackers on the roster and the best run stoppers. With Alabama coming up, this trio might see the field a little more together.
  • The Mississippi State offense is reaching heights that it never has this season. Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson are a big reason. Coach Mullen pushing the tempo at the right time is a big reason, as well. The first touchdown drive was a perfect example. MSU needed a boost after falling behind 10-0. J.Rob and Dak had a couple of nice runs and Mullen decided to go no-huddle push the tempo. What was the result? A score. 
It shows Mullen’s growth as a coach. Conservative Mullen doesn’t push the tempo that way in 2009.

J.Short’s Final Take

The most encouraging takeaway from Saturday’s game was Mississippi State’s improving pass defense. The defensive backfield has been much-maligned but they showed up against Arkansas. If it wasn’t for a last minute drive from Arkansas, they would have held them to under 200 yards through the air. I don’t care if Arkansas’ passing game isn’t the most prolific…It’s a step in the right direction.

Coupled with some solid kicking from Sobiesk, the Bulldogs improving pass defense bodes well for the Bulldogs as they head into the stretch run.

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.