Q&A with GenesPage.com

Gene Swindoll, publisher of GenesPage.com, answered questions from FightinGators.com subscribers in anticipation of Saturday's game. Gene fields questions on how Dan Mullen might prepare for his former quarterback and team, and he talks about the famous cowbells in Starkville.

FightinGators.com Subscribers: What or is Dan Mullen doing differently this week to prepare for us versus the other teams he's faced this year?

GenesPage.com Publisher: Dan doesn't allow media to attend his practices other than for 10 minutes on Tuesday prior to the start of the actual practice, so there's really no way of knowing what they are doing differently. But being from Florida and having coached with Urban Meyer for a number of years there is no doubt in my mind that he wants this game, probably even more than the Ole Miss game. And he's got things written and posted about Ole Miss all over the locker room even a clock that counts down the days and hours until the Mississippi State-Ole Miss football game.

The bottom line is this is a huge game for Mississippi State and for Dan Mullen. His team has come so, so close to defeating ranked teams this season only to fall short due to turnovers and penalties. Winning this one would be a huge statement about Dan Mullen and where he can take this program.

FightinGators.com Subscribers: How is Chad Bumphis doing and is he playing the "Percy" position, or is he strictly a WR?

GenesPage.com Publisher: Chad, who is strictly playing receiver, is doing even better than expected. He has become the go-to guy among the wide outs at State this season, catching 23 passes for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns. And this is in an offense that runs the ball almost 66% of the time thanks to senior running back Anthony Dixon, one of the best running backs in the SEC, and two quarterbacks who have better talent running the ball than passing it.

While he's having a solid year as a true freshman, next year could be a season where he really shines if true freshman Tyler Russell, a high school Parade All-American who is redshirting they year while learning the Dan Mullen spread offense, lives up to his hype as a passing quarterback.

FightinGators.com Subscribers: I'd like to get some insight on the team/fanbase reactions to running the spread and how long to they think before they can get enough quality players to compete with the elite in the West week in and out.

GenesPage.com Publisher: Considering an exciting offense is something Mississippi State fans have only read about or seen on the opposite side of the field for several decades, to say they are giddy about what they are seeing is probably an understatement. As for the players, they all love it even the defensive players. Heck, I've even talked to several former MSU players, all on the defensive side of the ball, who told me if they had this kind of offense when they played State would have been a top-10 team. As for how long it's going to take to get the necessary players to compete with the elite teams in the West, Dan and staff are already competing with teams like LSU, one of the better teams in the West. But week-in, week-out, give Dan a couple of years of recruiting and he will be there or at least close to being there. The key is finding a quarterback. And he may have that man sitting on the bench redshirting this year - true freshman Tyler Russell. Add in a couple more talented wide receivers similar in talent to Chad Bumphis and a couple more talented offensive linemen and that will go a long way to getting to where they need to be talent-wise.

FightinGators.com Subscribers: Will MSU play the UT and ARK strategy to put 9-10 players close to the box and dare us to throw over the top?

GenesPage.com Publisher: If Mississippi State had two veteran cornerbacks the caliber of former Mississippi State All-American defensive back Fred Smoot I would say that would be a possibility, but they don't. Instead they will probably be starting at cornerback a redshirt freshman, Corey Broomfield, and either Marcus Washington, a solid but not spectacular senior, or Maurice Langston, a juco transfer who missed most of the spring, all of the preseason and several games at the start of the season due to a suspension. And the safeties will be a true freshman, Johnthan Banks, and a sophomore, Charles Mitchell. It would be too much to ask those guys to cover the Florida wide receivers in man coverage.

What I expect State to do is play a four-man front, rotating two-deep the entire game, and have a linebacker or safety blitz on occasion in the hope it will flush Tim Tebow out of the pocket.

FightinGators.com Subscribers: Aren't cowbells illegal in the SEC?

GenesPage.com Publisher: Technically, artificial noisemakers are considered illegal by the SEC. But Mississippi State fans don't consider cowbells artificial noisemakers. State fans consider them real noisemakers. If you don't believe me, put one in your hand, shake it and then tell me that thing is not real. And after leaving the stadium this Saturday, tell me that ringing you will be hearing for the next day or two is artificial.

All joking aside, the SEC does put cowbells in that artificial noisemaker category, but cowbells are a long-time tradition that MSU fans won't ever let go. And as long as State fans can bring them and ring them they will.

FightinGators.com Subscribers: With Ole Miss not performing to snuff this year, has it helped Miss State recruiting in Mississippi?

GenesPage.com Publisher: In my opinion it hasn't helped because, to his credit, former Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom and his staff put a high priority on the state of Mississippi when it came to recruiting. And due to that, they pretty much dominated the state of Mississippi at least the past three years, especially in the high schools. You can easily see that by looking at the signees for both schools the past three years. And Dan Mullen and his staff are once again doing the same this year. My evidence to back up that statement can be found via the commitments of both schools. It's not even close. And of the remaining top recruits in Mississippi, Ole Miss probably leads for one, Madison Central's Carlton Martin. Among the other top recruits in the state, Mississippi State is a slight to heavy leader.

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