Tulane Game Site Decision Still Pending

Mississippi State hoped to find out where they will play the third game of this 2005 season. Instead the Bulldogs will play the waiting game for one more day.

Tulane University officials did not make the anticipated Wednesday announcement about the site and time of their September 17 game with State. Mississippi State athletic director Larry Templeton had conversations with his counterpart, Rick Dickson about the planned re-siting. According to MSU, the conversation reiterated intent of both schools to play the game on the original date. Dickson has initiated conversations with potential sites but no decision had been made as of Wednesday.

The contest, the third in an extended inter-conference series, was originally scheduled for the Louisiana Superdome. The facility and plans alike were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina ten days ago, along with the Tulane campus, leaving the Green Wave administration and football team without a home.

Over the weekend Tulane confirmed that they would open their delayed season with the Mississippi State game, and by Tuesday it appeared everyone had agreed to play at Shreveport's Independence Bowl. But as of 5:30 Wednesday no formal confirmation was forthcoming.

Now MSU officials are telling reporters to look for an announcement, probably in a conference call, on Thursday. No one at State could say where the game is definitely sited but every indication remains Shreveport, which has the facility, the staffing, and the experience to put on a major college ball game. This would obviously take much of the pressure off a Tulane staff that is stretched thing with athletic teams housed now at cooperating colleges in Louisiana and Texas.

Mississippi State has openly offered Scott Field for the game, but Tulane appears to prefer to keep the contest in their home state if not at home itself. The choice is entirely Tulane's, as the contracted ‘home' team. It will also be up to Tulane and the host facility, in consultation with MSU, to determine matters such as kickoff time, ticket prices and means of purchase, and how to handle tickets sold for the original game site.

That game was to be televised regionally on CSTV at 7:00; word on any telecast will come with the announcement.

If indeed State does play at the Shreveport stadium, it will be only the second appearance there. In 2000 Coach Jackie Sherrill's Bulldogs scored a dramatic overtime 43-41 win over Texas A&M in Independence Bowl classic. It is reported that in the current situation, Coach Sylvester Croom plans to fly in on gameday, play the contest, then fly back and not use any local lodging and potentially inconvenience people dislocated to Shreveport by last week's storm.

Meanwhile Mississippi State continued preparing for this weekend's road trip and opening SEC game, at Auburn. The Bulldogs worked out in helmets and shoulder pads Wednesday, as usual, and were on the fields just over two hours.

A number of players, including scheduled starters, were in red-cross jerseys Wednesday. Tight end Eric Butler hurt his right ankle Tuesday and spent most of the session in the training room. When he reported to practice to watch it was in a protective boot. So did flanker Will Prosser, who still is limited in drills after a summer foot stress-fracture. Both are expected to play at Auburn. Fullback Bryson Davis was held out after tweaking the same hip flexor that hobbled him much of August; he should be able to go Saturday.

Others in red crosses were defensive tackle Andrew Powell, now with a cast on his broken hand; defensive tackle Solomon Ona (ankle) and offensive tackle Calvin Wilson (knee nerve). Powell will still start at nose tackle this weekend while Ona is questionable and Wilson out.

Offensive tackle Johnny Wadley was in a yellow shirt Wednesday, but still worked on the #1 line at right guard in most drills and will play as usual. Middle linebacker Quinton Culberson is limited this week after straining his neck against Murray State but will be in the starting lineup. Halfback Jonathan Lowe and tight end Joey Sanders both have hurting shoulders, and Sanders is a question mark at the moment.

One positive health development was the sight of junior James Redmond working at #2 right tackle. Redmond had back-disc surgery in mid-August and has recovered quickly enough that now State not only believes the veteran can play but probably will play in a tackle rotation at Auburn.

The starting lineup should not change by gameday, but there were two adjustments to the defensive depth chart as freshman cornerbacks Derek Pegues and Keith Fitzhugh were wearing first-team white jerseys for the first time. That signals a promotion to the primary backup jobs on each corner.

State will bus to Montgomery on Friday, then to Auburn for the 11:30 am game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. They will go to Columbus, Ga., after the game and fly back to the Golden Triangle.


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