Riddell Ready To Answer Spring Questions

It had to be asked. Is the name supposed to be pronounced same as the helmet brand he happens to wear, or like the conundrum? Josh Riddell doesn't mind as he's heard it before. "It's Rid-ell," the junior quarterback says. Just the same as the question.

It's no riddle why Riddell is on Mississippi State's 2007 roster, either. He was signed out of Foothill College in California to both provide depth at the position, and to give veteran Mike Henig a healthy dose of spring camp competition. And if the transfer happens to do more than that, then so much the better for the Bulldog offense.

Certainly Riddell wasn't in the least intimidated about taking the field for his first senior-college practice Monday. A December signee, he has been preparing as much as possible just for this date. "When I got here they gave me a little playbook of the first day, so I got to go over that and just try to get that down," he said. And other than making some translations of the counts he called at Foothill, not much looked new to him.

"The offense terminology is different but mostly the same types of concepts."

Good thing because even for a fast learner there hasn't been a whole lot of time to get up to spring speed. And in this case, there is a measure of urgency involved. With soph Tray Rutland still recovering from last October's devastating knee injury and some off-season complications, and fellow soph Ty Evans not yet making any moves up the depth chart, Mississippi State needs somebody to come out of camp a strong #2 quarterback. Riddell was signed for just that purpose, as well as to keep junior Henig on top of his own game.

Yet if the new guy in camp is in competition with the starter, it hasn't caused any issues between the two. In fact, Riddell has found ready assistance from his rival. "Mike's helped a lot this off-season. If I've got questions I ask him. He's been through it and so I go to him for advice."

At Monday's first practice Riddell looked to have a grasp of the offensive idea, taking the second set of snaps each series behind Henig. Early on his throws were often low, slow, or both, but as the day went on things improved. That was to be expected, Coach Sylvester Croom, and had nothing to do with nerves or competition. "He's not used to being under-center, he's been a shotgun guy.

"The couple of times we had him in the shotgun he threw extremely well, but he's really got to work on his drops. Because he's going to have to be under-center in three and five step drops, stuff he's capable of doing. But it takes a little adjustment for the rhythm of the drops and knowing where to go with the football. But I was pleased with how he threw the football."

It shouldn't' take long for Riddell to get his cleats set and arm on-target. He said he came across the country to play big-time ball in the SEC, in an offensive scheme he understands, and he's ready for the challenge.

"I'm pretty knowledgeable about the game. I grew around it my whole life, my Dad is a coach. And I'm a decent athlete. I can throw the ball alright."

And if the touted transfer plays up to expectations, it might make choosing a triggerman this fall more of, well, a riddle.

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