Green Is Full-Go For Sixth Egg Bowl Battle

Want to know the best measure of just how long Marcus Green has been around? Try this. Come Saturday the sixth-year senior will have experienced more Mississippi State-Ole Miss games than most of the head coaches in the rivalry's history.

It's a fact. Of the 30 men who have directed Bulldog programs in this in-state rivalry, 26 were on the sideline five games or fewer. Often a lot fewer than Green who already has five Egg Bowls on his Mississippi State resume. Not all first-hand on the field of course, whether from redshirting once or twice with injuries. Still, being part of six such showdowns?

"Yeah, it's a blessing!" Green said Tuesday following one of his final regular-season practices as a collegian. "I'm a die-hard fan of Mississippi State, I bleed maroon. So it ain't no more to add to that!"

Well actually there is. Green also is itching for Saturday's opportunity to see his fifth victory against the Rebels, whether he was in uniform or not. Fortunately for this NCAA-granted sixth season he is still in uniform, healthy and playing as well as ever in his oft-interrupted career. Green has caught 18 passes this season, six of them for touchdowns with an average gain of 11 yards each touch.

He probably won't match the 27 grabs of 2009 to be sure. But Green has doubled that year's touchdown total, and is looking for more in the two remaining Bulldog games. Doing it this week would be just fine by him. In fact the '12 trends indicate Green might be due for a big game. He's only had one reception in the last three games, though it did go for a touchdown (at LSU).

Prior to this though Green had a four-game stretch with 11 catches, mirroring the fast start to the senior season when he grabbed six balls for three scores in the first two games. This is not so much a hit-or-miss approach to Bulldog scheming, Green said. Certainly he isn't being ignored by the quarterback, either.

"That's just how the gameplan is," Green said. Or put another way, State taking what the defense allows. "You don't go into a game saying how many catches you're going to get. It's kind of how the situations are. You just have to be ready and when coach calls your number you just want to make that play."

So will Green's #32 be called this weekend? The Bulldogs see a defense which might not be the most physical faced this season, but offsets size with all-out energy an attacking. "They're very aggressive," agreed Green. "They're a lot better than last year, they're very competitive. But we are too." And an old Dog like Green knows well how aggression can—can—be turned into an offensive opportunity. Those rushing ends and blitzing linebackers have to leave opening behind, which just happens to be where a smart tight end is already headed.

Or does Green remain in for extra pass protection? It's all part of the great guessing game. "We'll look at it as whatever coach needs me to do. If they need the tight end to stay, in we'll do that. When that moment comes to make a play we'll be ready. But as far as helping the offensive line out, if we have to do that we'll do that.

"The key thing for us is just execution, if we take care of our part we will be successful."

Green has had some successes in this series himself. Last year, when the Bulldogs opted to just pound away on a damp Scott Field with power rushing the tight ends were blocking and not catching. But he has hauled in a couple of balls at Rebel expense, including one that is his favorite Egg Bowl moment…so far.

"I'd go back to '09 when me and Arnil Stallworth were trying to go for the same pass." It was a third-quarter lob by Chris Relf into the end zone that seemed too high for anyone to catch. Especially as back Stallworth got tangled with his tight end on a mixed-up route. But Green somehow rose above for a touchdown grab anyway. "I just wanted to show him I was more eager to catch it!"

Ironically, the sixth-season appeal means Green will have his only turn playing a game in Oxford as he watched the '08 and '10 events sidelined with injuries. Not that he requires any added motivation for his finale, of course, but just in case some other Dogs haven't got the message there are reminders all around the locker room. Including the Egg itself, which many players have been posing with already.

Green is pacing his own preparations. "I'm just trying to build into the moment, just making sure I'm ready. I don't need nothing to get me hyped, this is probably the biggest game of the year and that's how we look at it each and every year," he said. The ‘we' including kids who have only heard about this game so far, or redshirted last year or have watched from sidelines too.

"It starts with seniors," Green said of the week's theme. "Seniors lead the way and young guys follow. The main thing is each senior know what it means. Some are vocal and some lead on the field. My expectation is if a senior leads, the young guys are going to follow."

Goodness knows Green is a fine example to follow. Not just his overcoming repeated career setbacks or his feats on-field. It is how this truly elder Dog understands what Mississippi State had to endure and achieve to reach this proud point. That is something youngsters don't or can't truly grasp in one sense. Then again if this and future generations are spared the agony of 2008 as Green did, that's fine too.

"I had the idea growing up, where I'm from with big Mississippi State fans. So I was kind of born into that environment." Not everyone else was, but they can certainly learn. "Just over the few years of being around here, understanding what we're about and understanding what they're about it's kind of like rubbed-in what we stand for," Green added.

"To me this game is like a championship game. And for the last couple of years we've been holding that trophy and we don't plan on giving it back. It's just something to remind you, motivate you, we are a champion and we work hard. It's our trophy and we continue to keep it."

For a fourth-straight year, which will be a fine way for Green to bow-out after his sixth. By the way, he now claims another piece of special status, he went through Senior Day in 2011 at that Egg Bowl…and did it again last week for good measure. "It felt good. You know, only a few people get to do it twice!" he joked. Just as only a select handful of State coaches, and as best known no players, will have spent more time on an Egg Bowl sideline.

Which is proven by those tiny flecks of gray now popping up on Green's scalp, eh? "It's getting a little wiser!"


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