Friday Morning Bulldog Football Notebook

It's almost a cliche among players. They all seem to say it's all about the team, not individuals. But with this year's Mississippi State football team it truly is all about team and not individuals based on what junior holder Aaron Feld says.

It's Friday night and the fans who are already in Starkville are enjoying tailgating with friends or eating out in the various restaurants throughout Starkville. Meanwhile, the Bulldog football team is in a hotel preparing for the next day's game ... as a team.

"In the past, (Friday night) we have gone back to our rooms and stayed off our feet and kind of got focused that way but this year, we stay in the hotel lobby and hang out together," said Feld. "Actually, we aren't allowed to go back to our rooms until about 9, and we are really encouraged to spend time with our teammates, which is really kind of cool."

They do things as a team the night before and they do things as a team as soon as they wake up the next morning.

"If it's a 11:30 (am) game, it's usually lights out at 10 and we get up around 6:45 or 7:00," said Feld. "We'll have a team walk, then we'll eat. Everything we do is focused on being a team. We do everything as one. Everything we do is centered on being a team, not just being a group of talented individuals."

They also go downstairs and watch a football video together that provides a positive feeling as they begin focusing on the upcoming game.

"We'll get dressed up, go downstairs and watch the highlight video from the week before or a motivational tape of things that we have done good so far this season to help get us pumped up for the game," said Feld.

Then one of the most exciting things in all of football for a football player happens.

"We get on the team bus to go to the stadium," said Feld. "Then we walk through the Dawg Walk. The Dawg Walk is one of the single most exciting parts of football. Part of you want to touch every bodies hands but at the same time you want to keep focused, so you really have to kind of motor through."

THE BAND OF BULLDOGS: So you have never heard of the band of Bulldogs? Neither had sophomore free safety Charles Mitchell until I asked him to put together a band from the current football squad. I had already heard that Charles was pretty good on the keyboard, so I figured he would know the talented musicians on this year's team.

So, who would be members of this band?

"I would play the keyboard," said Charles. "Kendrick Cook would play the drums. Gabe Jackson would probably be on the guitar. And they say Quentin Saulsberry can sing. They also say D.J. Looney can sing, too."

And what type music would the Bulldog band play? Charles wasn't so sure about that but he did mention that, "I play mostly gospel and I can play some R&B."

As for the band name, he's going to have to think about that one.

"That's a tough one," said Charles. "We would probably have to talk about that one."

BEING A LEADER: Junior defensive end Brandon Cooper is in his fourth year at Mississippi State. So, he knows what is expected of football players on this team. And he wants to help the true freshmen defensive linemen like Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox understand as well, not just to help them but to help the team overall.

"If I know how to do it, I am going to pass the knowledge down because it will make us a better defensive line," said Brandon. "When I see an area that they can improve on during a game or at practice I let them know. I don't come at them in a bad way. I pull them aside and let them know how they can do this better or what they did on this play, how they can improve it. And they are open to listening."

Brandon is not the only leader on the D-line. Senior Kyle Love is more of the fiery leader, Brandon the low-key leader and juco transfer Pernell McPhee is sort of in between the two of them.

"We try to lead in different ways," said Brandon. "I'm more of a laid back type guy. I may scream and yell here and there when my adrenalin is going but, for the most part, I'm a laid back guy. I lead by example, playing my role because I'm not a superstar. I'm a role player who just wants to do my job every play and do it to the best of my ability."

IT'S CHEMISTRY: To be a good team or even a good unit you obviously need talent but you also need something else called chemistry. And Brandon Cooper feels this defensive unit has the special bond.

"Off the field, we do a lot of things together," said Brandon. "It's not necessarily going out and doing things, but just hanging out. A few of us stay off-campus and sometimes we go over to Kyle Love's house or my house sometimes and just chill and play games, talk about life, just different things. In order to mesh on the field you have to have that chemistry."

AN INJURY AWAY FROM PLAYING: Up until last Saturday, junior walk-on kicker Derek DePasquale watched games from the sidelines. But an injury to starting kicker Sean Brauchle put him in the spotlight, something Derek had been preparing for.

"I prepared every week like I was going to start that week," said Derek. "I've done that since day-one, even before I got here."

And it showed because he was perfect on his field goal and his extra point kicks. But Derek expected nothing less.

"I was pretty good in practice all week," said Derek. "I think I might have missed two field goals in team (drills) out of thirty-something. So, I felt really confident going into the game. To walk away perfect was expected."

As for Georgia Tech calling timeout prior to his field goal attempt, that didn't bother Derek in the least.

"Really, that gave me more time," said Derek. "I wasn't nervous. So it was just delaying the inevitable."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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