Tuesday Bulldog Football Notebook

TAKING THEIR TURNS: Coach Sylvester Croom confirmed that the plan is to play both starter Wesley Carroll and backup Tyson Lee at quarterback in the opener at Louisiana Tech. The method of deciding when and where to alternate isn't too technical. "By feel," Croom said simply, adding there is no script or schedule for either. "I'll just play it by gut feeling."

Both Mississippi State triggermen are fine with this ‘formula' too. Carroll is taking no offense, so to speak, about sharing a job he won and succeeded in as a true freshman. After all, it was injuries to elder quarterbacks that gave him the chance to win games, too. Carroll has a team-first attitude about any rotation.

"Whoever is in there just has to execute. As long as the offense is rolling no one can complain." Carroll naturally wouldn't mind knowing what the ‘schedule' may be but he'll give his coach responsibility to make that call. "I mean, I doubt Coach will take somebody out in the middle of a series! But whoever is in and has the hot hand, I'm sure we'll keep rolling."

"Whatever happens, whichever gets the team in best position to win the game," is how Lee sees things. The junior transfer had an impressive spring camp and has looked sharp most of August, running both the first and second offenses in drills.

And always in the back of everyone's mindset is recent history, as in the average ‘life expectancy' of a Bulldog quarterback the last several seasons. So getting Lee live snaps in first-game pressure is an obvious investment for the rest of this season. Redshirt Chris Relf, the #3 quarterback, will also make the road roster for the Louisiana Tech trip.

BACK TO WORK: Both quarterbacks welcomed the return of their coach and coordinator, Woody McCorvey, to Monday's practice. "It's truly a blessing," said Lee. McCorvey had undergone still-unspecified surgery the previous Monday and other than a brief trip to the office Friday had been excused all week. Yesterday, he was back both for the quarterback pre-practice meeting as well as the full afternoon session indoors, though not moving around much more than necessary.

Still, "It's great to see Coach," Carroll said. "He's very inspiring to get back here already, a week out of surgery. It's very, very uplifting and he just has this glow about him. He gets everybody going."

"I told my Mom about the surgery and she said ‘which game will he be back for?'" Lee reported. "I said Mom, he's back in practice on Monday! She was in awe. But God has done a lot through him and to have him back out there just gives the whole team a boost."

INJURY SHUFFLES: OT Derek Sherrod remains sidelined by the infected foot that sent him to the hospital last Friday during practice. He was released Monday, will sit in on his unit meeting today but not practice until Thursday, Croom said. "If he practices Thursday, he'll start at left tackle." Otherwise, Mark Melichar will go back to left tackle where he was a backup last season, and redshirt Quentin Saulsberry start at right tackle.

A couple of expected participants have developed tendonitis in the knees this week. WR Jamayel Smith should still play but for the moment has dropped from the starting lineup on the sore knee. Brandon McRae will take Smith's spot at ‘Z' receiver; while Aubrey Bell has gotten the tentative starting nod at ‘X' based both on an outstanding camp and days that Co-Eric Riley had to miss with either a banged-up shoulder or sore knee himself. All four will play Saturday.

DE Charles Burns also has a sore knee now, though Croom hopes the veteran can play since, when healthy, he has been a solid backup to Kyle Love at left d-tackle. In fact he and DE Cortez McCraney were both moved to tackle the last week because Love himself has been hobbled more days than not by those big toes operated on over the summer.

"I was feeling good about the defensive line," Croom said, "until I saw Charles Burns' name on the injury list. He's got some swelling in his knee." And Love, while able to work for the last several days, can't be counted on to last a whole game as of now. Then there is the still-unsettled rotation at both ends due to both the injury days-missed by Brandon Cooper and Jimmie Holmes, and the raw youth of their alternates.

So, Croom said, "We're going to have to play with numbers there, anywhere from ten to twelve defensive linemen to get the job done."

ROOKIE ROLL CALL: Croom expects to play at least a couple of true freshmen in the opening game. One, DE Sean Ferguson, is tentatively a starter at left end after a strong camp showing. Starter or not Ferguson will play Saturday, as will S Charles Mitchell. He has backed up at free safety in drills, behind senior Derek Pegues (suspended for this game) and sophomore Zach Smith who will start. Mitchell will se action in a four-safety rotation, along with senior De'Mon Glanton. Senior Chris Nance is the other ‘nickel' safety with Glanton in pass defense situations.

Other true freshmen scheduled as of today for the road-roster are wide receivers Delmon Robinson and Arceto Clark; cornerbacks Louis Watson and Corey Broomfield, and defensive linemen Nick Bell and Josh Jackson. They could be joined by others as the practice week plays out, such as LB Mike Hunt and WR Charles Bailey who have practiced regularly in the three-deep.

Hunt, Robinson, Clark, Bailey were among the freshmen and reserves who scrimmaged Monday afternoon following full-team practices, as were DLs Trevor Stigers and Shane McCardell. Normally this means a freshman is more likely to redshirt than play, but this early in the season some of the expected participating frosh are needed to round out full scrimmaging teams in such sessions.

One freshman receiver, O'Neal Wilder, is out four to six weeks after dislocating his patella. This shouldn't be a big factor in the early-season rotation, as Wilder missed a good bit of summer work with his track obligations. But the tall speedster is about to fall behind, Croom fears, and when he does return "We'll have to start all over with him."

CALL NOW: Louisiana Tech informed MSU that there are still tickets available for the game. The MSU Ticket Office has stopped taking orders, since any tickets shipped now might not arrive in time. Joe Aillet Stadium seats 30,600 officially, and Louisiana Tech is hoping for a first-ever sellout at this home venue.

Gene's Page Top Stories