Gary Hardamon NSU photo

The Demon perspective of the Mississippi State game against Northwestern State.

Mississippi State heads into this weekend's match-up with Northwestern State looking to fine tune some elements of their play on both sides of the ball. NSU enters the game with an 0-2 record looking to settle a few issues before beginning the heart of their conference schedule.

Chris Salim, the sports of the editor of the Natchitoches times, was willing to offer some of his insight about the Demons in this week's edition of the The Other Huddle.

Northwestern State has had some struggles in their first two contests of the year. Salim believes the first two results are more of a relfection of the opposition rather than any real problems with the Demons.

"I'm not sure if we are off to a slow start as much as we are playing the best competition of the schedule right out of the gate.," Salim shared. "Southeastern Louisiana is picked to win the conference and they have a devastating run game. ULL, was the "money game" against a team with more resources and better athletes.

"Not to make excuses for them, I guess I'm just not sure yet that there is a problem and we won't know after this week either because obviously Mississippi State is going to be by far the most talented team they step on the field with."

While the Demons graduated some talented playmakers a season ago, the roster is not devoid of talent. A trio of talented upper classmen are looking to lead the team to a winning record.

"Senior wide receiver Ed Eagan - Top 25 FCS National Player To Watch in the pre-season. Pre-Season First Team All-Southland Conference wide receiver and kick returner. I would liken him to a smaller version of Wes Welker. The guy can just flat out make plays.
"Junior running back Demard Llorens - Dual threat back that took over as the featured back this year but is a great screen back and can also run side line to side line or between the tackles. 
"Senior Offensive Lineman Pace Murphy - Just a 300 pound specimen that knows how to block, that knows the blocking schemes and gives us a great chance throughout the season. He is a vocal leader that plays the game the right way."
Through two games, Northwestern State has played four quarterbacks. The Bulldogs may see a combination of signal callers come Saturday.
"In the Southeastern game, Stephen Rivers and Daniel Hazelwood got a majority of the snaps," Salim said.  "I think it's a situation of 'X's and O's' and which of the four guys is going to help them move the chains. No rumors of any kind of any off the field issues. Thomas and Offensive Coordinator Ben Norton are just trying to find the guy they want to lead the way once they get in to the heat of the conference schedule."

Should the Bulldogs win on Saturday and drop the Demons to 0-3 on the young season, Salim expects the team to bounce back and have a successful campaign.

"There was a lot of excitement in the pre-season about this team because of the overall talent on both sides of the ball," Salim shared. "We are balanced and I think that will be shown soon.

"I really think the Southeastern game was just more about some mental mistakes for the first week of the season by some guys and nothing to panic about.

"Then of course the two "money games," it is what it go in there and compete and see what happens but as a reasonable fan of the team, it's tough for me to expect the almost impossible.

"People around here have a ton of respect for the SEC to a whole new level. So the idea of our Demons playing an SEC opponent the caliber of Mississippi State is a great opportunity given to us by Coach Mullen to get on the national stage regardless of the outcome."

Already down a game in the conference standings, The Demons have their work cut out for them should they expect to win the conference title.

"After the loss to Southeastern, it's going to be tough to win the SLC because Southeastern is good, real good," Salim said. "Hard to see them losing twice in the conference and give us a chance to bring home the crown. I think there is no reason to think we can't win 5 or 6 conference games. If I had to make a prediction looking at the remaining schedule. I think 7-5, 5-3 in SLC is reasonable."

The Bulldogs and Demons will tee it up on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 3:01. Tickets remain available 

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