Archive for September, 2007

When it rains, it pours on MSU quarterbacks

September 30, 2007

Mississippi State quarterback Josh Riddell is out for the season due to a torn ACL in his left knee he sustained late in the fourth quarter on Saturday in a 38-21 loss to South Carolina.

Once swelling subsides, Riddell will undergo surgery. Also, because he played in less than 30 percent of MSU’s games in the first half of the season, he is eligible to apply for a medical hardship, according to MSU coordinator for compliance Bracky Brett.

With this setback, that means Wesley Carroll, who started against Gardner-Webb, moves atop the depth chart, while Chris Relf is No. 2.

Later this week, I’ll have more on Relf, a true freshman from Montgomery, Ala. I’m not sure if he and Michael Henig ever crossed paths during their prep days. Probably not due to the age difference.

As for Henig, he’s expected to return to practice on Monday, according to trainer Paul Mock. As for when he can play again, Mock said it won’t likely be this week. His return is mostly to see how much the hand has healed and if he can handle taking snaps.

Hopefully later in the day I’ll have some comments from Sylvester Croom. I left him a message around 3:30 p.m. and haven’t heard back. He’s pretty good, though, about returning calls.

Riddell, Bowser to have MRIs

September 29, 2007

Starting quarterback Josh Riddell and backup defensive back Tay Bowser are scheduled to have MRIs at 10 a.m on Sunday.

Riddell said he landed on his left knee funny with 3:33 left in the game and felt it buckle, but that it wasn’t sore. However, he said he is worried. After the game, the knee was tightly wrapped, and he was using crutches to get around.

Had something happened to Wesley Carroll, then Chris Relf would have been next in line at quarterback.

As for Derek Pegues, he’s fine.

Afterwards, everyone felt the block punt was definitely the difference in the game.

“You saw the energy rise on their sidelines,” Sylvester Croom said.

“It changed the momentum,” Anthony Dixon said.

 At the same time, Croom said State’s inability to cover receivers in zone coverage, along with poor tackling, also greatly contributed to the setback.

Considering all the upsets on Saturday in the Top 25, particularly the Top 15, you can’t help but feel Mississippi State let one get away at the Cock Cage (again thingreenline, thanks for coming up with that name. It’s a winner).

 BTW, the win against Auburn is looking better and better. So much for Gator bait!!

And finally, I’ll be touring a couple of airports and won’t be back until late. But as soon as I hear something on Riddell, I’ll do my best to post the news. That’s where the Blackberry comes in handy.

Killer on special teams

September 29, 2007

If you’re looking for a game-changing performance, try the block punt. With 3:51 to play in the the third, Eric Norwood, blocked Blake McAdams’ punt, giving Carolina possession at the MSU 27. One play later, Chris Smelley hits Kenny McKinley for a 27-yard scoring strike.

USC 24, MSU 21.

Late FG gives USC lead at the half

September 29, 2007

Thanks to a 45-yard field goal by Ryan Succup, South Carolina leads MSU 17-14 at the half.

And it’s been an interesting half.

Lots of penalties. Lots. USC has been flagged 9 times for 109 yards, while MSU has six penalties for 61 yards.

The Gamecocks have 215 yards of offense, while MSU has totaled 126.

As for State’s quarterback situation, Josh Riddell is 3-for-5 passing for 68 yards and a touchdown, while Wesley Carroll is 2 of 3 for 12 yards. In comparision, Carolina’s Chris Smelley is 14 of 24 for 184 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

What’s been surprising is how easily open the Gamecocks’ receivers are getting, the fact that State’s defense isn’t getting any pressure on the quarterback and the fact the Bulldogs are struggling with their running game. They’ve got just 46 yards on a defense that’s allowing 216.

Christian Ducre leads State with 27 yards, while Anthony Dixon has 25.

Your thoughts on what needs to happen in the second half for the Bulldogs to come back and win?

Riddell to start

September 29, 2007

It’s official! Josh Riddell will start in the Cock Cage (I must credit thingreenline for this name, which is awesome BTW). Your thoughts? But even with Riddell starting, Sylvester Croom said Wesley Carroll will play. It will be just like last week against Gardner-Webb, except this time it will be Carroll coming off the bench.

It’s an absolutely beautiful day for college football. Clear skies. No humidity. Late arriving crowd. Of course, the fact that it’s the most difficult stadium to get to doesn’t help. One way in = traffic nightmare. Great venue, though. It’s nearly kickoff and it’s stil a traffic jam outside.

All right, sports fans. Enjoy the game. I’ll see you at the half.

Live from the Palmetto State

September 28, 2007

What started at 5 a.m. with a tirp to the lovely Memphis International Airport has now concluded with check-in at the downtown Marriott Courtyard in lovely Columbia.
Mid-80s. No humidity. Nice.

I feel I’ve been gone a month. So, help me out. Have I missed out on anything? Surely, there’s some news.

As for the team, they are scheduled to arrive early this evening. However, they’re not staying in Columbia. Instead, they are lodging in Augusta. Golf anyone? I hear there’s a nice course there.

After reading your comments regarding Saturday blogging, this is what I’ll do.
• A pregame blog with any news and notes
• Halftime update with any news and notes
• Quick post-game breakdown

If you’re looking for anything else, let me know.

Thoughts on Saturday blogging

September 27, 2007

By far, last Saturday was the lowest hits I’ve received. On game days, if you’re not there, do you all even check out the blog. With the game on television, are you even less likely to check this site out. Just curious. And if you do check in, what kind of blogs do you want to see on game day?

Answers to the blogbag

September 27, 2007

And as promised, I’ll include the questions . . .

dadwithpride (what was the attendance to the Gardner-Webb game): 42,272 fans. That’s official. I didn’t make it up.

dawgbones (why doesn’t the Bulldog mascot run out onto the field anymore): I’m assuming you mean the four-legged one. If you are, well, I’m told he’s getting older and it’s not good for his hips to be running that fast and that long. If you’re talking about the one in costume, well, have you ever tried running in one of those outfits? Nearly impossible.

dawgfaninva (who are MSU’s top recruits): DE Ravery Gray out of Co-Lin CC, DT Templeton Hardy out of North Panola, OT Jimmy Rogers out of Mississippi Delta CC, DE Derrick Chatman out of Coahoma CC, FB Don Brown out of West Monroe, DT Josh Jackson out of Canton, CB Alonzo Lawrence out of Lucedale and DE Trevor Stigers out of Ridgeland. OK, that was more than five, but as you can tell, heavy, heavy on the defensive side. Next year, look out for the quarterbacks. There are some good receivers, though, such as Charles Bailey out of Jacksonville, O’Neill Chambers out of Harmony, Fla., and Jarmon Fortson out of Columbus, Ga.

2thdoc (What QBs are MSU looking at): Really none this year. Chris Garrett out of Tupelo is high, high on the list. Pure passer and tall. He’s a junior. I couldn’t get a confirmation if Chad Bumphis is on the list or not.

thingreenline (Where’s the money from higher ticket prices going): Coaches salaries. That’s the biggest part of the athletic budget and the fast growing area.

statedog (which basketball incoming freshman are a sure shot to redshirt and which are a sure shot to play): Ask me that again in late October. Then, I’ll have a much better answer.

2thdoc (When do sportswriters get a day off): None during football and maybe one day a week during basketball and baseball. That’s why I disappear toward the end of June and don’t return until football media days in late July. Thanks for caring, though.

themaroonandwhite (Will Henig play at USC, who’ll get most of the snaps at USC, what effect with Jasper Brinkley have, will a mediocre passing game work). Hey, limit your questions to two. Just kidding. Henig won’t play, Josh Riddell and Wesley Carroll will split time, Jasper Brinkely is out for the year with a sprained right knee, and no, a mediocre passing game won’t work.

themaroonandwhite (thanks): You are welcome! And thank you for limiting your second set of questions to just one.

farley662 (Does Coach Croom get defensive with a question he disagrees with): Sometimes. Sometimes not. Hum. Not sure if that’s not repetitive. Anyways, when he gives a short answer, you know he didn’t like the question. He doesn’t like to be second-guessed, that’s for sure. He won’t pull a Mike Gundy, but he has a way of getting across is discontent. Trust me. I know.

dadwithpride (over the last 4 or 5 years, how have the top five signees panned out): That’s a good story for signing day. You’d be surprised how probably 20 percent of those signees don’t stay around for four years.

thingreenline (what do you know about the baseball signing class): Collegiate Baseball rates it as the 26th best in the country. That’s pretty good. The breakdown shows nine high school signees and two JUCO transfers, with six of the 11 coming from Mississippi. I haven’t had much of a chance to talk with Coach Polk about them individually, but he did say it’s one of the best he’s had since he returned for his second stint.

imabulldog (Did you every interview Ron Cooper and did you find him difficult to deal with): Yes. I talked with him at least once a week during his one year here as defensive coordinator. I had no problems with him. I always thought he was very accomodating. And yes, he’s now at South Carolina.

Whew! Great questions, guys. If this segment continues to grow, maybe I’ll do a two-part blog and split the answers up.

Until next week . . .

Backup QB quits

September 27, 2007

Mississippi State walk-on quarterback Zach Harrington has quit the team, media relations director Mike Nemeth said early Thursday morning.

The sophomore from Hattiesburg and former Oak Grove standout transferred from Southeastern Louisiana last year and saw action in just one game – at Ole Miss.

I guess he saw the writing on the wall that he wasn’t going to climb the depth chart.

An interesting, inside look at USC’s ranking

September 26, 2007

OK. I admit, I was a little surprised to see South Carolina drop from No. 12 to No. 16 in the polls after losing to LSU. I mean, the Tigers are No. 2 in the country and this game was played in Baton Rouge. Plus, the Gamecocks played LSU closer than anyone else and score more points on the Tigers than they’ve allowed all year.

Still, they fell in the polls (see, this is why we need a playoff). So, I asked Parrish Alford, who covers Ole Miss for us and is an AP voter this year, how he felt about USC and where he put the Cocks in his poll.

 This is what he had to say . . .

“I dropped South Carolina from 14 to 25 after the loss to LSU. I didn’t get to see the LSU-South Carolina game. Statistically, it doesn’t look like the Gamecocks played too badley, but they have some issues they’re dealing with on offense.”

Personally, I thought he dropped them a little too far. But, that’s just my opinion.

What do you think about USC’s ranking. Also, you can check out Parrish’s Blog to see his complete poll.

My thanks to you

September 26, 2007

I just want to say thanks to everyone who reads and comments on this board. Since we went to this site on Sept. 17, I’ve received 10,000-plus hits. By far, that’s the most at the Daily Journal.

Of course, a little quarterback controversy never hurts.

As always, I’m open to suggestions. If there’s anything new you’d like, let me know. If there are things you don’t like, let me know.

Just one thing, well, make that two. Watch the language (let’s keep profanity in its proper place), and my name is spelled G-R-E-G-G. Not Greg.

Thanks again and keep coming back.

MSU to change signals

September 26, 2007

Sylvester Croom is all for advancement and didn’t stand in the way when assistant Shane Beamer left for South Carolina last year.

But when Bulldogs travel to South Carolina this weekend, both sides of the ball will use different signals.

“We changed everyone of them,” he said.

Hey, you can’t be too careful in light of everthing that was just revealed in the NFL.

“I’m not accusing anybody of anything, I know when I was a young coach in this league, everybody got every advantage they could possibly get. Things happened in New Engalnd that’s been happening in the NFL for years. People don’t close practice in colleges for nothing.”

OK. Pick that score

September 26, 2007

It’s Mississippi State at South Carolina. Is this the upset special? What’s your score and why?

Here’s what we learned from Croom today

September 25, 2007

• There is no change in the quarterback situation.
• Everyone, except for defensive lineman LaMarcus Williams is expected to play at South Carolina. He’s out with Fasciitis, which according my medical dictionary is inflammation on the under side of the heel.
• Croom said he’ll talk with Steve Spurrier during the pregame warmups and ask him why on earth he voted for MSU in the Top 25 poll.
• He didn’t think Anthony Dixon and Tony Burks played well.
• He did think Anthony Strauder, Michael Brown and Jarvis Kyles played very good.
• Captains for the South Carolina game are Titus Brown, Dezmond Sherrod and Jarvis Kyles.

Quotable
“I believe our coverage on special teams has been one of the bright spots this season, but it will be tested this weekend against South Carolina” – Sylvester Croom.

Quick update from practice

September 24, 2007

Just left the practice field as the team drills began (we’re not allowed to watch that portion of practice), but before I go back out to talk with Sylvester Croom and the quarterbacks, I wanted to give you a quick update.

Wearing Red Cross jerseys were LaMarcus Williams (foot), Cortez McCraney (ankle) and Tim Bailey (groin).

As for the quarterback situation, Wesley Carroll was the first to take snaps with the first unit, but Josh Riddell got his reps too.

Here’s what Croom had to say following practice . . .

“I thought they both had a good practice. Both of them have strenghts, both of them have weaknesses. It’s obvious Josh throws the ball better and has a better arm than Wes. But Wes probably manages the game and runs the team better than Josh. Two of his best passes were thrown into the wrong coverage. I know it looks good in the stats and it’s a big play and everyone loves it, but those plays get you beat. What happens in game like that, when you play Gardner-Webb, you get lucky. You’re not going to luck your way through the SEC.

“We’ve got a decision to make and it will be made on who performs better (in practice). That doesn’t mean who completes the most passes. That means who quarterbacks the game better. And I’ll make that decision, along with our coaching staff, regardless of what public opinion might be.”

Croom not exactly pleased with Riddell’s performance

September 24, 2007

During his weekly teleconference, Sylvester Croom said Josh Riddell didn’t do anything to win the starting job outright. As for who’ll start Saturday at South Carolina, he said that will be determined by Riddell’s and Wesley Carroll’s week of practice.

“It’s still a work in progress,” he said. “They didn’t play well enough to grade out a winner. It’s not a positive situation. They did do some good things.”

As for Josh, he added this, “I know everybody saw his big-play passes, but he was pretty lucky with a couple of those. The touchdown he threw to Tony (Burks), that was a misread.”

I asked him if the two splitting time with the first team in practice hurt, as opposed to one or the other getting a majority of the reps. He emphatically said, no.

As far as injuries are concerned, everyone is healthy and expects cornerbacks Anthony Johnson and Marcus Washington will be back in the lineup.

As for who played good against Gardner-Webb, Croom gave praise to Titus Brown Michael Brown, Anthony Strauder and Gabe O’Neal.

At the same time, he was not all pleased with the play of Anthony Dixon, J.D. Hamilton and Derek Pegues. And outside the play of Tony Burks, he thought the receivers had a bad outing.

“We’ve got to play a heck of a lot better to stand a chance,” Croom said.

I will say I was surprised by his remarks regarding Riddell. Heck, I thought he played pretty good. After all, he directed the offense to three-straight scoring drives. Also, he was asked if there was a personality conflict between and Riddell and he emphatically said no.

Time for BlogBag

September 24, 2007

Got questions regarding MSU sports? Fire away and I’ll have answers later in the week.

Also, check this out: Spurrier turns to Smelley.

MSU gets a vote

September 23, 2007

In today’s USA Today’s poll, Mississippi State got one vote.

However, I’m sure it’s from Steve Spurrier. He’s been known to cast a vote for the team he’s playing next and the Bulldgos travel to South Carolina on Saturday.

I’m going to say it’s the first time the Bulldogs have received any votes since the 2001 season, when they were ranked No. 21 going to Florida, where they lost 52-0, the second setback in a five-game losing streak.

Bulldogs win again, now 3-1

September 22, 2007

Well, sports fans, at the end of the day all that matters is that Mississippi State is 3-1 and winners of three straight.

No. The Bulldogs weren’t impressive in the second half against Gardner-Webb in their 31-15 victory. However, they did look good in the first two quarters as they bolted out a 28-0 lead at the half.

Wesley Carroll got the call at quarterback, but it was the play of Josh Riddell that really moved the offense. After the game, Sylvester Croom said practice will determine who starts at South Carolina.

To be honest, though, I think Riddell earned his stripes.

Your thoughts?

Carroll gets the start

September 22, 2007

All week, Sylvester Croom wouldn’t say who the starting quarterback would be for the Gardner-Webb. Well, with about 45 mintues left until kickoff, we now have an answer.

Congrats, Wesley Carroll. You are the man today. However, expect to see Josh Riddell too.

In other moves, Aubury Bell is starting in the place of Jamayel Smith, while Kyle Love is penciled in at left defensive tackle instead of Cortez McCraney. Also, there are two new starting cornerbacks – Jasper O’Wuinn on th right and Tay Bowser on the left.

Oh, whoever turned on the heat, please turn it off. It’s hot. Really, really hot. And humid, too.

So, do you agree with the decision to start Carroll, a true freshman, over Riddell, the junior college transfer who was here in the spring?

BTW, I love Gardner-Webb’s uniforms. They look like Tampa Bay’s.