Tag:Mississippi State
Posted on: December 2, 2010 2:43 pm
 

Silver lining to Barron injury for Tide?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's hard to imagine that Alabama' s Iron Bowl loss (at home, having been ahead 24-0, vs. archrival, etc.) could be any more painful than it already is, but the Tide may have found out differently today as All-American safety Mark Barron will miss his team's bowl game after torn pectoral muscle suffered against Auburn. Barron underwent successful surgery for the injury Friday and will be out for somewhere in the neighborhood of four months.

The news is not good for Alabama in the short-term; their secondary is the thinnest and youngest part of their roster (Barron could be replaced by Will Lowery , a former walk-on), and Barron by far its most experienced and reliable member. The Tide have struggled with mental lapses in pass defense throughout the season, and will be even more vulnerable in their bowl game without Barron's steady hand.

But in the longer term, Barron's injury could prove to be a blessing in disguise. A junior widely regarded as one of the best safeties in the country, Barron was widely expected to test the draft waters and possibly move on to the NFL after this season. It's possible the injury has brought an end to his Alabama career. But if the surgeyy puts too big a dent in his stock, he could decide to return to Tuscaloosa for his senior season. Of course, he could decide to bolt anyway, just as he could have decided to stay anyway before the injury. But the surgery and his potential inability to work out for scouts ahead of time certainly won't boost his NFL standing or the chances of an early departure.

The Tide can also take some very minor solace in that they're not the only SEC team forced to play their postseason game without a major contributor; Mississippi State will be without the services of leading receiver Chad Bumphis after ther sophomore found out earlier this week he had suffered a broken collarbone in the Bulldogs' win over Ole Miss. The silver lining for MSU fans? Unlike with the Tide and Barron, they know they'll get to see Bumphis back in a Bulldog uniform next season ... and that compared to the potential drama with their head coach , one missed game for one player doesn't seem like such a big problem.

Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:58 pm
 

NCAA declares Cam Newton eligible

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's some bad news for TCU or any other school or fan base out there hoping that the hammer was going to come down on Cam Newton.  The NCAA declared Newton eligible on Wednesday.

On Monday the NCAA that a violation of amateurism rules took place, and Auburn declared Newton ineligible on Tuesday as they're required to do.  Still, using the evidence it had, the NCAA found that while Cecil Newton along with Kenny Rogers did in fact try to solicit money for his son, Cam Newton was unaware of it and the NCAA decided to reinstate his eligibility.  Though according to the agreement between the NCAA and Auburn, Cecil Newton's access to the Auburn athletic department has been limited.

The relationship between Kenny Rogers and Mississippi State has been dissolved.

“Our members have established rules for a fair and equal recruitment of student-athletes, as well as to promote integrity in the recruiting process,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. “In determining how a violation impacts a student-athlete’s eligibility, we must consider the young person’s responsibility. Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement. From a student-athlete reinstatement perspective, Auburn University met its obligation under NCAA bylaw 14.11.1. Under this threshold, the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible.” 

All of which is a fancy way of saying that every single win that Auburn had with Cam Newton as its quarterback will stand, and that any win from here on out will also stand.  Which means that if Auburn beats South Carolina on Saturday, it will be playing for a national title, and if it wins that game, it won't be stripped of it any time in the future.

Which, obviously, is fantastic news for Auburn, Cam Newton, and Auburn fans everywhere.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 1:34 pm
 

Report: Mullen is Option 1A for Miami

Posted by Tom Fornelli

So yesterday I told you about Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen saying that he hasn't been contacted by any schools about any head coaching jobs. He also went on to say that he is happy at Mississippi State.  Well, I also said that just because Mullen hasn't been contacted yet, that doesn't mean he won't be contacted in the near future, and that he'd be dumb not to consider any offers.

Well, bad news, Mississippi State fans.  Those sleepless nights are upon you, as according to a report on CaneSport.com, Mullen is option 1A in the Miami coaching search.

Sources have told CaneSport that they think that is Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt's ultimate vision if he can land Mullen or Gruden when they have conversations Tuesday and/or Wednesday and one of those two guys is hired as Miami's head coach.

Gruden has publicly denied interest in the job and there are questions whether Miami will have the budget to pacify a coach of Gruden's stature. At the same time, others are saying that budget issues have already been worked out and that Gruden is on the brink of being introduced as the new leader of Miami football. The Gruden speculation has created one of the craziest 48 hours in UM coaching search history. 

So right now, we are going to call Mullen and Gruden 1A and 1B and predict one of the two will land the job.


Seriously, Miami!  Let the dream of Gruden go!  Why would a coach that could get something like $5 million annually in a return to the NFL as a head coach accept $3 million to coach at Miami?  Not only would he make more money in the NFL, but he wouldn't have to recruit and he wouldn't have to deal with 18-year old kids.

Focus on Mullen.  He's just as good of an option as Gruden, if not better.  After all, we already know that Dan Mullen can do a good job on the college level, look at what he's done in the toughest conference in the country, in the toughest division.  Gruden has never been the head coach of a major college football program.
Posted on: November 29, 2010 5:13 pm
 

Dan Mullen hasn't been approached by anyone

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Mississippi State fans find themselves in a bit of a new position compared to what they're used to come this time of the year.  There's the one aspect of life that has the Bulldogs ranked in the top 25, and seemingly on the rise with one of the best young coaches in the country in Dan Mullen. The downside of all that, though, is that they have one of the best young coaches in the country, and early indications are that there will be plenty of schools in the market for a new head coach this season.

Which means that Mullen's name is going to be coming up in a lot of rumors over the next couple of months, and Mississippi State fans will have a lot of trouble sleeping while they wonder whether or not the coach who seems to have the program finally heading in the right direction is about to jump ship. Though, if it makes those fans feel any better, Mullen did go on the radio on Monday and say that he hasn't been contacted by any school about any job openings.

“Here’s what happens," said Mullen. "One, it’s a good thing for myself and it’s a good thing for Mississippi State because it means we’re winning. Speculation only comes when you win. But, for us right now, I think a lot of that stuff gets overblown. I’ve been an assistant coach for a long time, and I don’t hear the speculation about what’s going on and what he’s going to do and all these different jobs that are supposedly being thrown your way. I only ever really got one phone call. I have not been approached by anybody at this point and my wife and I, we’re very very happy here at Mississippi State.”

Of course, just because nobody has called Mullen yet, that doesn't mean the phone won't be ringing eventually.  And if the right program calls, Mullen would have to be stupid not to consider it.  Yes, he has done a nice job at Mississippi State, but the task of bringing that program to a level in which it can compete with Alabama and LSU on an annual basis in the SEC West is not going to be easy.

So the question for Mullen will be -- throwing money aside -- would he be happy with 8-4 and 9-3 seasons in the SEC, or would he want to go somewhere else with a chance to get to a BCS game or a national championship?
Posted on: November 24, 2010 3:47 pm
 

Barrett Jones likely to miss Iron Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's obvious that this year's Alabama team is not the same as the squad that won the national title last year.  All you have to do is look at the Tide's record, and see those two blemishes in the loss column to figure that out.  While there are a few reasons for this, one of the bigger factors has been the offensive line's inability to block for Greg McElroy.

Only Tennessee and Vanderbilt have allowed their quarterback to be sacked more often in the SEC this year than Alabama, who have given up 27 sacks. In the Iron Bowl on Friday, while Auburn's defense as a whole hasn't been all that impressive, the Alabama offensive line is going to have its hands full with Nick Fairley and company.  A task that may be even tougher now that it looks like guard Barrett Jones isn't going to be able to play.

“Barrett Jones is still struggling a little bit,” said Nick Saban after practice on Tuesday. “He hasn’t been able to practice much. He may try to do some things tomorrow and I think that would be the indicator of whether he would be able to participate in the game or not.” 

Jones suffered a sprained left ankle in the Mississippi State game, and sat out of the team's ritual sacrifice of Georgia State last week.  He has been practicing, but he's been wearing the black "no-contact" jersey.  If he can't go on Friday, he'll be replaced up front by Anthony Steen who filled in for him against Georgia State.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 2:29 pm
 

Receivers suspended at Ole Miss, Arizona

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's been a rough news cycle for wideouts; Markeith Ambles is gone at USC , Lavisier Tuinei is likely out for the rest of the regular season at Oregon (though official confirmation is still to come) and now two other starting receivers have been suspended for their team's biggest games of the season.

One of them is Melvin Harris , the leading receiver in 2010 for Ole Miss . He's going to miss the annual Egg Bowl against the Rebels' bitter in-state rivals at Mississippi State for the dreaded "unspecified violation of team rules." Though Harris isn't a big name (or much of a name at all) outside of Oxford, his 30 receptions and 408 receiving yards --both team-leading totals -- will be sorely missed when you're already the nation's 88th-ranked passing offense and Jeremiah Masoli has been erratic-at-best as thrower.

Also falling victim to the specter of the unspecified team rules violation: Arizona 's Bug Wright , who will miss the Wildcats' attempt to stop the Oregon freight train this Friday. Unlike with Harris, his team may not feel Wright's absence all that keenly; the junior is fifth on the team in receptions and fourth in yards, though the 'Cats may miss the jitterbug shakiness in the slot that's given Wright the team's second-highest yards-per-reception average among those with 20 catches or more.

Of course, it probably doesn't much matter who does or doesn't play for Arizona, since with the game in impregnable Autzen Stadium the Ducks are likely to roll regardless. The stakes are higher for the Rebels, whose only possible salvation for a lost 4-7 season would be an upset victory at home over their archrivals. Harris's absence from an already-wobbly receiving corps won't help matters in the slightest.

Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:42 pm
 

What I Learned from the SEC (Nov. 20)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. South Carolina learned its lesson. The last time Carolina won a game as big as last week's SEC East-clinching victory over Florida , they had downed No. 1 Alabama before going out the following week and laying their biggest egg of the season against Kentucky . Now, sure, the Gamecocks got a lot of help early on from a Troy team that for some reason played like a nervous team with lots to lose rather than the massive underdog with nothing to lose they were. But the previously-hapless Gamecock secondary held a statistically potent Trojan passing attack entirely in check, the Marcus Lattimore -led offense ruthlessly punished every Troy mistake, and by halftime it was already 56-7, 'Cocks . Not only did Carolina avoid the letdown, but they looked ready to give Auburn all they want and more when the SEC championship game rolls around in two weeks.

2. It's time to put the defense-first image of the SEC to bed for good. Maybe the SEC really is home to better athletes, maybe they really do hire better coaches, maybe they take defense more seriously than some other conferences ... but none of that, even if true, is making a lick of difference on the field at the moment. This week gave us only four games between SEC teams and FBS competition, and those four games produced 268 total points (in regulation) and as average score of 42-25. And that 's with Tennessee and Vanderbilt battling to a low-fi 24-10 Volunteer win, and the conference's best offense and ninth-ranked defense at Auburn taking the week off.

You get the point: very few teams in this league are playing defense. When even the consensus best unit in the league -- LSU's entered the weekend No. 1 in total defense at 274 yards per-game -- is getting gashed for 36 points and 420 yards at home against the conference's No. 5 offense, the SEC's image as a collection of grind-it-out attacks and impregnable defenses is officially as current as Bob Dole . If SEC fans want to argue their conference is superior, fine. If they want to argue their conference is superior because of the SEC's brand of defense, they need to acquire a clue.

3. LSU should be an underdog going to Arkansas. Full kudos to Les Miles for exorcising his clock management demons , but it's the Hogs who appear to be playing the better football at the moment after surviving what might have been Mississippi State 's best performance of the season on the road in Starkville while the previously stout LSU defense was busy getting gashed by the up-and-down Rebels. If Masoli and Co. can do that in Baton Rouge, what can Ryan Mallett and the suddenly scorching-hot Knile Davis do in Fayetteville?

(And while we're playing the transitive property game, the latest compelling evidence of how much stronger the West is than the East? The Razorbacks went to the East champion three weeks ago and rolled to an easy win. Then they went to the fifth-place team in the West tonight and were fortunate to escape with a double-overtime win.)

4. This Tyler Bray kid might just be one worth watching. Not that you'd expect it from his taste in tattoos , but the skinny kid from California has taken to SEC football like a duck to some very forgiving water. No, the pass defenses of South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt aren't the most intimidating the conference has to offer. But after another productive outing in Nashville (16-of-27, 232 yards, 8.6 yards-per-attempt, 2 touchdowns), Bray has collected some seriously impressive numbers in his last three league performances: 43-of-76 (57 percent completion rate), 714 yards (9.4 YPA), 7 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.

And he's a true freshman. If Derek Dooley can keep his head on straight and his brittle-looking body remains intact, Bray should be one of the SEC's best in due time ... and maybe as soon as 2011. (As for 2010,the Vols are one win against Kentucky away from scraping their way to a bowl berth. Not bad considering they stood at 2-6 not so long ago.)


Posted on: November 20, 2010 7:51 pm
 

LSU escapes Rebels as Miles outclocks Nutt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Maybe it's fitting that Les Miles ' best job of clock management in ages -- maybe ever -- came against Ole Miss today in his Tigers' 43-36 win . After all, it was the spike-with-one-second fiasco against the Rebels last season that took the "Miles can't manage the clock" meme from the ravings of embittered LSU fans to an accepted mainstream fact.

But not today. Today it was Miles whose team took over on their own 49 with 4:57 to play, down 36-35, and cooly drove the ball into the endzone and -- just as importantly in a game that at times resembled a ping-pong match as much as football -- the clock under 35 seconds as the Rebels watched helplessly. Why helplessly? Because Houston Nutt 's charges had wasted two timeouts comiong out of the huddle slowly earlier in the half. Combine that with some hard running from Jordan Jefferson , Michael Ford , and Stevan Ridley , and the outcome of the drive (and the game) was a foregone conclusion from the minute LSU crossed the Rebel 20.

Yes, advancing that far was made a much more manageable goal by the questionable unsportsmanlike flag on the Rebels' Markeith Summers , who had been penalized for somersaulting into the end zone despite the fact he was being pursued by an LSU defender. (How exactly it's Summers responsibility to know precisely how far behind him the defender was, we're not sure.) But the flag only hastened the inevitable; the way the game had been going and as tired as the Rebels' defense had to have been, LSU was putting points on the board there.
Those points keep LSU in the dead middle of the hunt for a Sugar Bowl berth, one they'll all but clinch if Arkansas lose to Mississippi State tonight. But even if it comes down to Razorbacks vs. Tigers next week, LSU can sleep a little better knowing their coach has started to put some of his biggest past mistakes behind him.
 
 
 
 
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