"Ten penalties, five turnovers, three critical errors (in kicking). You're not going to win against a good YMCA team with 18 plays. We didn't do that in the worst of times, and that was really disappointing. Because we did some good things."
Even the good things were eventually negated. Croom complimented the passing in general and a handful of big plays, but was just as unhappy with three interceptions. And in the fourth quarter, with State trailing, twice tape review showed missed chances for "huge, explosive gains" with QB Tyson Lee. One of those had a wideout wide-open in the end zone, but Lee never lofted the ball. Croom said some Dogs played well on defense, but on the whole tackling was poor. And of course the fumbled kickoff return, the dropped punt, and the out-of-bounds kickoff late in the second quarter that in retrospect began Louisiana Tech's turnover were glaring gaffes. So was an obvious hold by WR Co-Eric Riley that brought back a 78-yard reverse run. Thus, the emphasis Monday on all special teams as well as tackling. And, as much as anything, the MSU mindset. "Some things happened in the game the other night that I've been worried about," Croom said. "We've handled adversity around here for a long time; but handling success? There were a lot of things in the off-season, just little things, that concerned me."
Thus a double-practice day where the goals were as much intangible as technical. "I hoped we get across to them today, other people win in different ways but in order for us to win we cannot beat ourselves with penalties and turnovers. We can't overcome them.
"The things that we can control, we have to control. That's the only way we won last year, and the only way we're going to win now. We're not good enough—I don't think many people are, there's a few—good enough to have 18 critical errors that had nothing to do with the other team. If we eliminate one of those plays, one, we win the game."
And with that, Croom said talk turns Tuesday entirely to this weekend's home game with Southeastern Louisiana.
INJURY UPDATE: MLB Jamar Chaney has already undergone surgery for the fractured left ankle and is out for the season. "He's done for the year and it's a big loss," Croom said. "Chaney has been a very consistent player and he had a good game the other night. I thought he was poised to have a great year, I really hate it for him. It's a tough loss for our team but I hate it more for him."
Chaney can apply for a medical redshirt at the end of this senior season, his fourth year to play, if he wishes. Chaney will also be draft-eligible if he wants to go that route.
Redshirt Jamie Jones is now first-team at middle linebacker and true frosh Bo Walters is the backup. "And if we need to use Karlin Brown or Anthony Littlejohn, both have had some experience and can be the third guy. We'll try to be at least three deep and one of those guys will have to swing inside if we need somebody else."
There were no other serious injuries in the game itself. TE Marcus Green banged up one hip early in the contest and could still do his blocking duties, but lost a step needed for pass pattern use. He should be full speed by this weekend. As should S Keith Fitzhugh and OT Mark Melichar, both with minor knee contusions.
OT Derek Sherrod missed his first college start with after-effects of an infected big toe. Sherrod attended practice today but did not participate. "He says he's feeling better," Croom said. "I still don't anticipate him practicing tomorrow, if he practices by Thursday I'll be tickled. When you're that big, it's a problem. It's nothing wrong with the toe, it's a matter of the incision healing and being able to push-off on it without re-injuring it."
And HB T.J. Patterson, who has barely practiced since the first day of August camp with that ankle damaged as a high school senior, returned to active status today.
SCRIMMAGE TEAM: The afternoon practice was a short, and shorts, one as the Bulldogs had worked out in the morning for almost two hours. Though there was not much of the usual post-practice scrimmage for reserves, Monday policy at State, those players did come to work in full-gear unlike the varsity. Among them were true freshman DT Shane McCardell, DT Devin Jones, DE Nick Bell, OG Templeton Hardy, WR Charles Bailey, WR Arceto Clark, and HB Patterson. And juco OT Phillip Freeman is still on the scrimmage group.
Of those frosh, Bailey and Clark are still possibles for playing time in the next few weeks.