So Far, So Good For Myles And MSU

Numbers are nice and all. Just don’t expect Gabe Myles to focus upon his personal statistics any time soon. “We’re doing good, so my season is going good.”

Well by that measure Myles is having a spectacular season. His Mississippi State squad is ranked #1 in the nation and staying at the front of the Southeastern Conference race. Things can’t get a lot better than this, eh?

“It’s fun,” agrees wide receiver Myles. “Because we know who we are. We knew our capabilities coming into the season. Now we have to keep doing what we were doing to get to where we are now.”

In Myles’ own case, his work-load has risen through this redshirt freshman season along with his status. A leg issue has sidelined senior Jameon Lewis the past two games and Myles has jumped right into the lineup. And, onto the stat sheet. Working from the slot position, Myles caught four balls against Texas A&M and three more against Auburn.

“You have to step up and do what is best for the team. So I had to be in a position where I was ready to step in and take on all the roles Jameon was doing. It’s just part of being able to step up and help the team out.”

There shouldn’t be surprise how smooth this transition has been, for Myles and entire offense alike. Though he spent his true freshman fall at cover-cornerback, during bowl camp he became a pass-catcher and made a strong spring impression. Except Myles isn’t so much impressed with himself; it’s just his job, after all.

“Because when you work hard in practice it’s going to roll over to the game. I just have to thank the guys on the scout team defense, for giving me the looks. When I go out there I see what I’ve done in practice. And right there is already a confidence booster, I’ve seen what they’ve done and now I know what to expect.”

When we say Myles has taken over Lewis’ position, it really means taking over all of it. The younger slot receiver doesn’t just run routes and catch balls. He took an option pitch for a 20-yard rush against the Aggies, and has even taken a turn at Lewis’ favorite play, the throw-back pass. Myles completed it to quarterback Dak Prescott, too, for a 11-yard gainer.

So there is nothing in the standard offensive package which can’t be called with a younger guy holding Lewis’ position. “It just comes down to repetition at practice,” Myles said.

“When you gain that trust in practice that’s where it all starts. The coach has got to trust you, the quarterback has to trust you, that’s when the team trusts you being put in situations to actually make plays.”

His only shortcoming is Myles’ throwback did not go for a touchdown, where Lewis is four-for-four with scores. “Oh, man it’s fine!,” said Myles. “It is what it is and I guess teams are starting to look at that now. I still haven’t got a touchdown, but it’s coming.” It should; Myles just like Lewis was a high school quarterback and threw 12 TDs as a 2011 senior.

Hmmm, which leads to an obvious question: who has the better arm? “Ha! Yeah, we actually had this conversation in the film room,” Myles laughed. “Of course I’m going to say I’m the better passer because I believe in my skills! But he’s got a state championship so obviously he was doing his job, too!”

For his part Myles has fit into the ‘small’ slot spot in State’s four-wides base set quite naturally. He said he can and will play split end as needed, but lining up closer to the action suits his skills.

“I guess being able to be one-on-one with a linebacker. You may have the advantage at most times because of the speed difference and all that. And at the same time its toughness, you’ve got to go in there and block those linebackers. I like the slot because I’ve got a good guy in front of me in Jameon and I’ve learned from him a whole lot.”

Plus, there’s that scout team experience as a defensive back. Myles always wanted to play offense in college but he agrees seeing it from the other side has accelerated his own development.

“Yeah, it just goes to show that football is all one big thing. And it’s good to know both sides, what the corners are going to do and how they look at certain situations and what to expect. It’s a really good thing.”

In fact Myles has been really good in rotation or starts. His 13 catches are just two behind Lewis after all and third on the entire team. What comes next is turning a reception into a big play the way Lewis or the split ends do…which means yards after the first contact.

And here he can call on inside advice. Father Eddie was a Bulldog defensive back 1987-90 and knows something about hitting receivers. So, “My Dad always said not ever let one man bring you down. That’s what Coach G (Billy Gonzales) always reiterates as well.” On top of that Myles admits he needs to upgrade his blocking work, compared to the de-cleating contacts made by Malcolm Johnson, Joe Morrow, Robert Johnson,

“Yeah, not so much experience! But I do my best to get the job done. I’m working on it still.” Oh, and much as Myles is enjoying the amount of work he’s getting these days, he is a good teammate. Myles will welcome the sight of Lewis in the lineup again at Kentucky this weekend.

“This is his senior year and I kind of want him to get as much as he can out of it. Mostly I want him to get better because this is his senior year and I want him to go out and have a great one.”

Just as all Dogs have enjoyed what has been a great season…so far. An open date at mid-point of the schedule couldn’t have been timed better to let the #1 excitement settle down. Even a young pup like Myles knows half of a schedule is not even half-way to the ultimate goal.

“The season is not over with, we still have to win-out. Rankings are good and all that but we know who we are and we’re going to work every day.”

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