McCorvey: "Got To Be A Balanced Team"

Even in an unexpectedly successful freshman campaign Wesley Carroll showed he could keep compliments in perspective. Now, after a painful opening to his sophomore season, Carroll is proving he can handle complaints just as routinely. "I try not to focus on what is said outside of meetings and our little community here at Shira," Carroll said. "We've just got to get back on the right track."

Carroll wasn't actually at the Shira Complex when speaking with reporters. They were at the Palmeiro Center where Mississippi State has spent most of this iffy-weather week. Not because the Bulldogs need insulating from a critical public this week, though. It's for the iffy weather all week as they try to both put the humbling debut-defeat behind them; and focus on starting the home season, really re-starting the whole season, with a better outcome against Southeastern Louisiana.

Besides, all the Dogs really need to hear at the moments is what their coaches are telling them. And the message given to the offense in general, and quarterbacks in particular, has been straightforward and simple. "That we need a win," Carroll said. "We can't have turnovers. That whoever is in, we've got to be more productive and eliminate errors."

Coach Woody McCorvey is equally direct on what he desires from his offense, and quarterbacks. "I hope we don't throw any interceptions! If we don't throw interceptions it'll be pretty good as long as you don't do things to beat yourself. I feel we'll be better this week because we can get some things corrected that we did last week. We've worked on them and I'm sure we'll be better at it."

If not, it won't be for lack of emphasis and practice. Drills that media have been allowed to observe have been weighted towards throwing: the proper way, the right placement, the best targets, etc. Not, though, because starter Carroll or backup Tyson Lee were terrible at any of this in the opener. "I thought we threw the ball good at times," McCorvey noted. But it was the times State didn't throw so well that made the difference—that is, the three interceptions from Carroll.

"Wes was off some, particularly on some of the throws downfield," McCorvey said. "He was rushing himself trying to get the ball out there. But we worked on those things and hope we got them corrected.

"If you take the interceptions away, then I feel we made a big improvement. But now we've got to be a complete balanced football team, run and pass. And I think we can be a complete offense this week. But the biggest thing is to eliminate turnovers."

Carroll agrees. "It was evident where made mistakes. We left way too many points out there obviously. I don't feel our offense played as well as we could have."

While players and coaches haven't let outside noise inside Palmeiro, they have been asked about the proportion of running plays to throwing in game-one. That's not exactly the correct question, Coach Sylvester Croom reminded this week; what needs evaluating is the ratio of what was called by the offensive staff, in runs and passes, against what the two quarterbacks actually attempted once they looked over Louisiana Tech's defensive pre-snap sets. Croom said the ratio from the press box was 60% runs as desired.

Carroll, then Lee, checked out of many of those called runs and threw passes instead. And McCorvey said review showed Carroll was correct in doing so. "Pass to run, run to pass, he did not have any mistakes in the game in terms of doing that. He understands the offense." But, the quarterbacks coach added, "I've just got to get him to play within himself. Let the defense come to him and not force things."

This was the real insight coming out of week-one, but also has to be kept in context. It was certainly not that Carroll was over-ambitious for himself. Or, that he was over-confident after his exciting freshman season. McCorvey has worked with or around young quarterbacks for a long time and knows there is a natural tendency for them to take on more of a burden as they age on the job.

"I think that's natural, because he feels he probably has to do a little bit more," McCorvey said of Carroll. "But he doesn't. He's got capable backs behind him, he's got good receivers. The only thing he has to do is get the ball to them and let them do their thing."

In no way is the coach undermining Carroll's position with the team. Nor is State's staff slighting junior transfer Lee this week by declaring that Carroll is the quarterback they will win or lose with for the time being, and that Lee is in competition with redshirt Chris Relf for #2 status. A job that based on observed practices Lee is holding on to.

"As far as this week goes, Wes is our starter," Lee said. "Chris and I are behind Wes right now just trying to work it out, to see who can fight for that number-two position whenever somebody is needed. We'll see how it goes from there."

McCorvey is confident in Carroll's internal strengths, that the soph will learn from how his second season began and play within the correct context again. A context that has been expanded, McCorvey added, now that Carroll is a full-season older from that August 2007 rookie. "We didn't want to put a whole lot on him last year because of that. We've given him a few more options this year.

"But, I want to bring him back within his game. You know, he's got a lot of good players around him; get the ball to them, let them do what they can do, and don't try to force things."

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