Bulldog Receiver Thrives as State Offense Goes to the Air

If Fred Ross gets into a routine of asking for a stat sheet, well, it’s with good reason. He still is surprised by that line from the Auburn game book. “You’re like dang, Dak threw the ball 41 times? It’s crazy.”

Or maybe not. As long as Dak Prescott’s passes are on target, receivers like Ross are both catching and running, and the Bulldog offense is scoring…why not stay with the air attack? Besides, Ross said, “It’s always fun to catch the ball.”

Fred Ross is certainly enjoying himself and this Mississippi State season. Through four games the junior slot-Dog has 22 receptions, tying for third-most of any Southeastern Conference receiver. Ross also gives State a solid ten yards-per each reception, too.

All that lacks for him to find the end zone as happened five times last season. But Ross is well-ahead of his 2014 pace otherwise. He caught 30 balls as a sophomore and should surpass that in half-a-campaign.

That is, if Mississippi State continues the September proportion of pass-to-run on into October. Balance is a concept beloved of fans and media and Coach Dan Mullen has heard the questions for weeks now. When will the Bulldogs go back to emphasizing the ground game which has been Mullen’s MSU trademark?

Yet Ross reminds this is not exactly a plan. “I just think it’s what the defense gives us,” he said.

“If they load the box I feel we’re going to throw the ball that game. If the pass is working that’s what we’re going to continue doing. If the run is working, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The same principle applies in how Prescott distributes the football, by the way. It interests outsiders how Ross, not wideout De’Runnya Wilson, is topping the receptions chart for State.

“It’s just matchups. If De’Runnya has a good matchup that game, it’s going to be De’Runnya’s night. If I have a good matchup it’s going to fall to me.”

Speaking of matchups… Ross and receiver corps are headed for one which bodes well for statistics. For both sides. Wilson and Ross have had their share of successes against Texas A&M defenses and more seems likely in Saturday’s re-matchup.

“I mean they play man-to-man 90% of the time. So as a receiver if you get man-coverage you’re going to get the ball thrown to you. I kind of think that’s what it is.”

What the weekend also is, is a semi-homecoming for Ross. Not that he or team will pass through Tyler en route to College Station. For that matter State is staying in Montgomery. Close enough for Ross as he returns to the home state.

“It’s always fun because I get to see a lot of my family. I just want to go out there and put on a show for them.”

The best show being a winning one, that is. The Bulldogs are natural under-Dogs this far from home. Then again, they walked out of Auburn with a win last week.

“It gave us a lot of confidence going on the road to a hostile environment. To know we can go into Texas A&M and do the same thing.”


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