Chris McNeil Sees Positives

Mississippi State's starting center, senior Chris McNeil, after viewing the Auburn-Mississippi State game tape, saw some positive signs that gave him encouragement for the remainder of the season.

Although his team lost 28-0 against Auburn, the score wasn't indicative of the game. The Bulldogs shot themselves in the foot over and over with penalties and turnovers, but also played well...at times.

"I thought we did some good things," said Chris McNeil. "After we went in and looked at the film, we saw a lot of positive things. We saw guys flying around, playing hard. We were just a half a landmark short or had our pads too high. At times, we were running the ball well against them, but we shot ourselves in the foot. We had a lot of penalties, a lot of mistakes. Things like that will get you beat, especially against teams like Auburn."

McNeil was very impressed with another aspect of his team's performance - their conditioning. But it wasn't enough to overcome the mistakes.

"I thought we came out on top with the conditioning, but it wasn't good enough to win the game," he said. "Our defense pitched a shutout in the second half. The 14 points Auburn scored in the second half were attributed to (the offense) due to fumbles are interceptions."

Despite the mistakes, McNeil was encouraged by the play of the veterans on the offensive line.

"Avery (House) has been the high grader the last two weeks," said McNeil, of the senior who is starting for the first time this year. "He is a hustle guy who works his tail off. (Redshirt freshman) Anthony Strauder is (the starter) at left guard. He made some mistakes, but he's a young guy. (Strauder's immediate backup, redshirt freshman) Dio (Herrera) did well, too. Those two have a lot of ability to build on. They are probably the two most athletic of all the offensive linemen we have right now. (Junior starting tackle) Brian (Anderson) is steadily doing his thing. And (senior starting guard) Johnny (Wadley), as long as he stays healthy, does well. I really think we have a lot to build on this year."

According to McNeil, part of the improved play of the veterans, including himself, can be attributed to a year's experience in the Sylvester Croom offense.

"I think the biggest advantage we have this year is we understand what we are doing," McNeil said. "Last year, I was still trying to figure out what was going on. This year, I am more poised going into the game. Instead of riding on an emotionally roller coaster, I try to stay focus on what I'm doing."

He was also impressed with the play of the true freshmen, although, at times, the Auburn atmosphere, something they had never faced before, took its toll.

"We have a lot of young guys who are improving every week," McNeil explained. "In certain situations, I guess they were kind of like a deer caught in the headlights in the Auburn game due to the atmosphere. Playing down there probably made a lot of them nervous. Now, they have it out of their system and I think they will be alright the rest of the season."

Speaking of emotions, MSU will play a team, Tulane, that is on an emotionally roller coaster itself after having to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What is he expecting from them Saturday?

"This is their first game of the year, so, basically, all the film we have on them is from last year and our game against them," said the senior. "But during training camp, we looked at about every front there is, so I think we will be prepared for whatever they throw at us."

And beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday night in Shreveport, Louisiana, McNeil and his teammates will find out if they are up to the challenge of facing a very emotionally charged Tulane Green Wave team.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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