Powell, Bulldogs Beating The Summer Heat

It's written there on back of every gray (soon to be sweated much darker) tee-shirt worn by the Bulldogs as they head to another afternoon's workout session. There in maroon letters it reads 212°. "The temperature at which water boils," Andrew Powell acknowledges.

Or, maybe, the emotional temperature at which Mississippi State's strength and conditioning drills are operating this summer. Whatever the thermometer reports, the legend on their shirts is an alert that these Bulldogs are hot to trot into their 2006 season.

"We're going to put the heat on somebody," the senior nose tackle says. "I'm pretty fired-up. I'm ready to get out there and show everybody what we can do."

For this Thursday afternoon, with the season still nearly ten weeks off, Powell and the rest of the summer roster is getting ready to show strength Coach Jim Nowell what sort of wind they have with a round of sprinting and agility drills. Run, ironically, indoors. "He said sometimes he wanted to get us out of the sun, but we're not getting soft, Powell insists. It's more a matter of those thunderheads looming to the east and threatening the day's scheduled session. Weather won't be allowed to interrupt what the Bulldogs are getting done this summer, Powell says.

"We're doing pretty good, spending a lot of time working out together."

This senior season ought to work out pretty good for Powell, as well as his upperclassman partners in the heart of State's defensive line. Nose man Powell really is fired up about how he and tackles Deljuan Robinson and Antonio Johnson are expected to anchor a very good SEC defense.

"Me and the front, with the things we plan to do we're going to put a lot of pressure on a lot of people. I'm going to do my part, lead, and do the best I can."

Powell is coming off a 39-tackle junior season, with six stops behind the line. That's a good tally for a nose tackle, who has to give up the body to open alleys where teammates can make the tackles. "I have to stay in my gap, maintain my assignment and handle my responsibility," Powell says. "And let the rest take care of itself." Fortunately enough folk have noticed, particularly offensive linemen who have to cope with the Clewiston, Fla., native. And Powell goes into '06 as a candidate for post-season honors.

Still…doesn't he ever get tired of tying up multiple blockers so other Dogs can pile up statistics? Has Powell ever considered saying the heck with the call, I think I can get through and grab a quarterback and glory? He smiles. "It's tempting, but at the same time you have to play within the defense. I've got no business trying to do too much, I might mess the next guy up.

"We nose tackles get credit, it goes to the win column. I can live with that."

Besides, this isn't the toughest assignment Powell has to handle. He gives his current weight as 303 pounds and says he's got to drop 5-10 more to be in prime playing shape by August. So for lunch he had lean turkey on wheat and low-fat yogurt. "Stuff like that. And a bunch of water." A sportswriter who only has to describe, not play the game recoils in mock horror at this ‘meal' but Powell laughs it off.

"We're all on strict diets trying to get ready for the season. It's not starvation, it's doing what you've got to do! You just have to be disciplined. That's part of the game."

It helps that Powell particularly and his teammates generally are motivated by plans to upgrade their victory total in 2006. He certainly wants to enjoy a winning season before leaving Starkville, and assures all that the defensive interior line is going to do its part. "I like the front, the three of us can do some things. We're very versatile and that helps us as well. Quinton Wesley is making a transition and I think he's going to grow up and be a pretty good backup. And we've got some young guys coming in to add more depth. Looking at Reggie Odom I think he can do some things for us, and Kyle Love."

So Powell and the Bulldogs don't mind having to beat the heat during this intense pre-pre-season. All they need is to look at their shirts for a reminder that hotter times are ahead. "I hope we're going to boil over on some people this year," Powell says, "turn up the temperature and make it a little bit hotter."

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