GAMEDAY: LSU travels to Starkville

When your 0-3 and haven't won a conference game since the 2001 season, it's tough to find any positives if your Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill. <br><br> Opening the season with loss at home to Oregon 42-34, the Bulldogs endured road defeats at Tulane 31-28 and Houston 42-35. Mississippi State is off to its worst start since the 1968 season when they were 0-8-2.

The 0-3 start is the worst start for a Sherrill-coached team since his days at Texas A&M when he started the 1988 season 0-3.


On an eight-game losing streak, Sherrill has not been in a winning locker room since State's 29-17 victory over Memphis on October 19 of last year.


Sherrill has struggled against the Tigers and is 2-13 in his career against LSU and 2-10 as the head coach in Starkville. The Bulldogs haven't beaten the Tigers since a 17-16 victory in Starkville in 1999 and have lost 10 of their last 11 against LSU.


Looking to preserve his own future in Starkville, Sherrill brought in two new coordinators. Morris Watts came from Michigan State to run the offense and Ron Cooper left Wisconsin taking over the Bulldog defense


Opponents have dominated the first quarter against the Bulldogs. In three games this season, Mississippi State has been outscored 49-0 in the first quarter.

Senior quarterback Kevin Fant leads the Bulldog attack that is averaging 413 yards and 32 points a game.


State's offensive numbers are very misleading. They have scored many late touchdowns in games in which the outcome was already decided.


Missing the final seven practices of the spring, the Bulldog coaching staff did not even know if Fant was still a member of the squad heading into the fall. Fant returned for fall practice and reclaimed his starting role. But he has had an up and down season thus far completing 63-of-114 for 891 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions; including five in State's loss to Houston last week.


In the backfield, the sophomore duos of Nick Turner and Jerious Norwood have shown flashes of brilliance this season. Turner (5-10, 182) is the leading rusher for the Bulldogs with 302 yards on 44 carries to go along with four touchdowns. Turner had his breakout game on the road against Tulane with 155 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.


Norwood has been a very capable backup to Turner collecting 150 yards on 24 carries and is averaging 6.3 yards a carry.


Senior wide receiver Justin Jenkins has become Fant's favorite target this season having caught 24 passes for 397 yards and five touchdowns. Jenkins was one of the few bright spots for the Bulldogs last week against Houston with 172 yards on nine catches and two touchdowns.


Listed as the third-string flanker heading into the season, junior Scott McKinley has emerged as one of the top receivers for Mississippi State. McKinley is second on the team to Jenkins with six catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. Ray Ray Bivens is the Bulldogs third receiver, but he has seen limited action with 98 yards on six catches.


Protecting Fant is another large offensive line, a tradition of past Mississippi State teams. Left tackle Richard Burch (6-5, 302), left guard Brad Weathers (6-5, 323), center Blake Jones (6-2, 284), right guard Chris McNeil (6-3, 280), and right tackle David Stewart (6-6, 295) give the Bulldogs an imposing front.


Giving up 38 points and 512 yards of total offense a game, the Bulldog defense has struggled to stop any aspect of opposing offenses.


Running a base 4-3 attack, the Bulldogs return eight starters, including three on the defensive line. Junior defensive tackle Ronald Fields (6-2, 296) is the leader up front and with 10 starts last season.


Perhaps the leader of the State defense is senior linebacker Jason Clark. The 6-1, 240-pound Clark was an all-SEC selection at defensive end last season after starting 11 games, in which he had 66 tackles.


In the secondary, Mississippi State may not be loaded will superior talent, but the Bulldogs have plenty of experience starting two seniors and two sophomores who played in every game last season.

Making the move from cornerback to safety, sophomore Kevin Dockery is coming off a solid 2002 season in which he finished near the top in every defensive statistic for the Bulldogs.


Second-team all-SEC selection Brent Smith returns for his senior season at place-kicker. Smith has made two field goals this season from 22 and 31 yards and has converted all seven extra points.


Junior punter Jared Cook shares the punting duties with senior Robert Walls. They both have shown tremendous strength as they have longs of over 50-plus yards this season.

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