Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

From The Dawghouse

And on the, what, 26th day? of preseason, the Bulldogs rested. Well, after taking care of Friday classes and other obligations. But here, one week before boarding busses for next Friday’s trip to Hattiesburg, the players are off.

That’s what the scrolling-screens schedule in Seal Complex say, anyway. It’s true. With the 2015 season literally looming Dan Mullen has given the day off. Make that days, as there are no practices or apparently required position and squad meetings booked for Bulldogs.


Oh, I suspect some will show up at Seal anyway for training room attentions. We’ve heard no official injuries all August, just a few rumors (Taveze Calhoun?) of some gimpy guys. Nothing serious has leaked-out though, which is the first and maybe foremost positive point to this preaseason.


Another? The free weekend, obviously. Yes I know, Mississippi State will have used every date, even hour allotted by NCAA for preseason work. And with barely any breaks since August 2 team assembly we have to figure the quota is reached by now.


Still. With ultra-rare exceptions coaches always, always find (create?) something else they want to work on if there’s time available. If Mullen is turning the troops loose for a few days, especially at this point on the football calendar, that has to say something about satisfaction with preparations. Put another way: I doubt the Dogs have done much this month that their coaches want to send them out of sight for a while. Just the opposite, actually.


We now see too why Fan Day, normally held the final weekend before season starting, was moved-up this year. As y’all saw, and I do mean a heckuvalot of y’all in person, turnout wasn’t impacted at all. Bulldogs appeared to enjoy the Day themselves as did everyone. Save for the unfortunate folk caught at the long-end of long-lines and cut-off from autographs. Or those who got over-heated in a crowd crush which strained Palmeiro Center a/c past limits.


Now. Preseason is done. A week and four practices are all that remain. Is State ready?


At this point the cynical and the confident will riposte does it really matter? I get it. The last few years have been rather rough on the CUSA club, on and off the field…especially at the box office where Lite5 life will only get rougher. It’s actually kinda sad to see, and not the most admirable reflection of what college sports is and must ever be. But it is fact.


What the C&C should consider is allllll the unknowns in this matchup on the home sideline. Not the staff. Dan Mullen has often commented favorably on Todd Monken’s acumen in play calling and preparation. Now Mississippi Southern has a lot of wild card factors, mostly the intriguing transfers who will make gameplanning a challenge. Put another way, don’t stake too many shekels on another seven-touchdown margin.


Worries about club complacence, though, should be unfounded. Manny Diaz said it best last week, talking for the defense but the offense feels the same. Mississippi State is ready to scout, scheme, and strike strangers for a change.


Meaning, energy and excitement will be just fine next weekend. I’d kinda worry more about this free weekend for those exact reasons. Four weeks grinding away has built a formidable head of steam by now and you just know when everyone is turned loose someone or –ones are going to vent their share. One wonders if this is the weekend all college coaches have their most concerns, as the guys are out of sight and very much in their mind.


My own mind flashes back to Mullen’s own opening day here at Mississippi State. When he had to sit down his most proven and popular offensive player for the first game. Fortunately it was Jackson State and Mullen could have sat the whole first-team safely.


Still it did send a lesson when Anthony Dixon couldn’t play against his old favorite team, and I will always believe that hurt Boobie more than if he’d had to miss the Egg Bowl. (Thankfully he didn’t.) We also know that skipping an easy day’s work against Jackson State kept Dixon from setting the season rushing record.


The point holds. This is not the time for Dogs to get too unwound. Again, it would take a pretty catastrophic roll call by the local constabulary to make the opener a toss-up. Why risk it?


If there is anything which should keep players under reasonable mental leash, it’s their own memory of where and how last season. Bulldogs got to celebrate a great season in south Florida sunshine and did indeed enjoy the partying. The Orange Bowl itself? Hopefully that burns enough memories eight months later to keep the edge on for Dogs eager to take a fresh start.


Relax, fellows. Just be wise about it.

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