The Next Step

With an 8-4 season and a bowl game win in the books, and high expectations the norm for the upcoming season, is Mississippi State about to take the next step? And if they are, what exactly does taking the next step mean?

"The year before last when we were 3 and 8, we didn't win the close games - we lost a lot of games by 3 points or less," said senior linebacker Jamar Chaney. "But last year we won those games. Some games (last year) .... like the Ole Miss game, we just showed up in the fourth quarter and won the game. This year, we have to play complete games. If we can go out there and play four quarters of football, we have a pretty good chance of going out there and winning every game."

A lofty goal indeed, and one that comes with high expectations, the kind of expectations that Chaney and his teammates want .... and more.

"(The high expectations) really feels good, and when the expectations come you want to live up to those expectations," said Chaney. "And even build on them."

And he knows what is required to build on them.

"We know it's not easy, so we know we have to work hard," said Chaney. "You practice harder, you work harder over the summer. Everybody wants to do their best."

And then you have the chance to reach that next step.

"The next step for this program is, like Coach Croom said, getting to Atlanta (and playing in the SEC Championship Game)," said Chaney.

And it's not just getting to the game that Chaney and his teammates want.

'"Our goal is to get to Atlanta and win the SEC championship," said Chaney. "If you go out and win the SEC you are going to be in one of the top BCS bowls in the nation and maybe in the national championship bowl game. If you want to be one of the elite teams in the SEC that is the next step you have to take."

Then, the Mississippi State program will have achieved the ultimate step that all programs strive for.

"If you do that, then you are right there with all the other great programs in the nation and everybody in the country will know that Mississippi State football is for real."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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