Speaking of thinking…Carroll said he has had no after-effects from the mild concussion suffered late in the second quarter of the Tennessee game. Not that he can remember anything that happened in the two series after taking a hard—and legitimate--hit to the head when held up during a tackle. "But I haven't even had a headache," he said. Nor any hangover.
"I've already moved on. That's in the past. Like I said before, you can't play in fear of getting hurt because it throws you off your game. Even though I was playing hurt, I didn't think twice about it."
Meanwhile, after trying to play and practice bare-handed, QB Mike Henig was back to working with protection on his still-healing throwing hand. But not a standard gray game-glove like most teammates wear; it was an elastic glove with open fingertips. And Henig was not taking all the usual #2 man snaps Monday.
"I think I might have done something in the UAB game to hurt it," Henig said. "It wasn't hurting that bad before the game, and now I can't even bend my fingers really. I think it's nerve damage. It's just going to take time. I haven't been throwing, giving it a chance to heal. I want to live for the future."
For the present though Henig has to prepare to play with pain if needed. "If I have to go I think I can with the momentum of the game. I'm definitely not 100%."
STICKS AND STONES: It might not have pained him, but Henig did hear reactions from the home crowd when he had to enter the game for Carroll. Asked what he thought of being booed, Henig responded "Just ignorant people. I try to take it like a duck and let it go right off my back."
Evidently though some of it sunk in anyway, from Henig's words and tone. "Probably half of the people booing have never played a down of football in their lives. It's kind of hard to understand. But, they booed Wes when he slid on fourth down. They just boo and boo and boo. I've heard boos from this stadium for four years and I'm sure they booing before I go there and they're going to boo after I get out."
Then again, Henig has been around long enough to hear his own predecessors greeted badly by the home folk. It all comes with the job, he realizes.
"When you're the quarterback they're always looking for the next one. If Wes makes a mistake they're going to want Chris Relf in there. If Chris makes a mistake they're going to say who are we going to sign next year. It's part of it when you're at quarterback."
FAIR AND FOUL: While not nearly as controversial as the game-ending situation at Oxford, the Bulldogs came out of the Tennessee game with some questions about officiating calls. And, non-calls, such as repeated holds of Eric Butler at the line of scrimmage that kept the tight end from getting out into patterns with favorable matchups. QB Wes Carroll took one late-looking hit while sliding with no flag, and a helmet-to-helmet shot late in the game that also drew no penalty.
What drew most MSU-ire was the third quarter penalty assessed S De'Mon Glanton when he pounded Tennessee's Austin Rogers after a high pass at the goal line in the third quarter. Glanton was penalized for what Croom was told was a ‘defenseless hit' on Rogers. Instead of 4th-and-12 from field goal range the Vols had a free first-and-goal and took advantage.
"It was a critical penalty that was questionable, either way," said Croom, who added he could see it being called or ignored equally. Regardless, "It was a little bit of a momentum shift" there early in the third period.
This State staff has been reprimanded before for discussing officiating decisions, whether resulting in flags or not. And Croom said today "I'm not critical of the officials" about the past game. But, as the subject was raised, he added "Where I sit, when you're building a program, if you're mid-level or lower, you'd better not make many mistakes because you're not going to get any help."
Such a statement might not set well with some. "Hey, I deal with life as it is!" said Croom, who was reminded by veteran media that once upon a time he played and coached for one of those presumed ‘upper level' programs. Which brought a rather candid admission his fellow Alabama alumni might not care for either. "You're right, I've been on the other side of it," Croom said. "From where I sit, that's what I see. The breaks always seem to go your way!"
Then again breaks aren't the true issue in Croom's MSU-mindset, which really is more a matter of making one's own luck…and not giving the other guys a break. "We can't make mistakes. We cannot put ourselves in a position where a call can decide a game. Where it's the difference between winning and losing a ball game."
INJURY REPORT: Mississippi State came out of the game with only one injury of note. S Zach Smith bruised a thigh and was not practicing Monday. His status will be determined Tuesday, but there were no indications Smith won't be available this week.
CB Chris Nance was the only player in a limited-jersey, standard for the last several weeks on his tender hamstring.