After losing 4 of their first 5, the football team has come back and reeled off a two-game winning streak and are 3-4 on the year.
The streak started with what was a not so pretty 11-8 victory over Troy State. The MSU defense, after installing senior Michael Gholar at DOG safety, true freshman Darren Williams at free safety and true freshman Kevin Dockery at cornerback, and going to schemes that allow them to better utilize their talents, started showing signs of what lay ahead by recording 6 interceptions in the Troy State game.
The secondary showed even more improvement this past weekend against a much better team in Memphis. They upped the ante by not only intercepting 4 passes from Memphis' outstanding sophomore quarterback Danny Wimprine, but they returned one for a touchdown. Michael Gholar's interception put an end to whatever hope Memphis had for a possible comeback in the game. Junior linebacker Jason Clark also recorded a 5th interception which he returned for a touchdown.
The much maligned offensive line also showed improvement despite being shorthanded due to true freshman offensive tackle Richard Burch having to sit out the game due to an injury. Senior Carl Hutchins played very well in his place until he was hurt late in the game. As an example of their effectiveness, for the first time this year, the running backs averaged 4.0 per carry. The only negative from the offensive line department was the injury to starting center Blake Jones. Blake suffered an injury to his left hand that caused a huge knock to completely cover the back part of his hand. MSU was to have it X-rayed to determine whether it was broken.
Other offensive improvements included the play of the running backs, the wide receivers and backup quarterback Kyle York.
With starting running back Dontae Walked shelved because of a couple of injuries, running back Justin Griffith, showing the heart of a gladiator, took up the slack even though he played most of the game with two hurt ankles. In fact, he had the most carries of all the backs with 17. Sophomore running back Fred Reid had his second straight good game, carrying the ball 14 times for 59 yards. Over the course of the last two games he has accumulated 170 yards rushing. True freshman running back Jerious Norwood, showing no signs of the ankle injury that had slowed him down the past couple of games, carried the ball 9 times for 67 yards.
Although he has not gotten any publicity since he has stepped in for punter Jared Cook, walk-on Robert Wallis has done an exceptional job punting the ball. During the past two games, he has punted 13 times for a 46.6 average. His net punting average has been a very good 38.2.
The team will now have two weeks to heal and prepare for the surprise team of the SEC, the Kentucky Wildcats, a winner over Arkansas at Arkansas Saturday night.
MSU picked up two more commitments this past week, Troup County (GA) High School's Avery Hannibal and Patrician Academy (Butler, AL) Brian Anderson committed to State. Avery is a 6-1.5, 240, defensive end while Brian is a 6-5, 285 offensive lineman. Avery chose MSU over East Carolina, Central Florida, Troy State, Jacksonville State, Wake Forest and Middle Tennessee (State). Florida State also recruited Avery hard but has not offered at this time. Brian chose MSU over Southern Miss and Troy State. Other schools, including LSU, are calling him.
MSU now has 8 confirmed commitments:
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Well, that wraps up this week's edition of the Monday Morning Bulldog Coffee Break.
Have a great Bulldog week!
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Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.