Dixon Interrupts Record Run For Dog Down-Time

It wasn't only the Mississippi State record book that took another beating. Anthony Dixon admits he absorbed some minor damage of his own Saturday night at Kentucky. "I was definitely sore, I was feeling a little bit of it in my calves," related Dixon. "And for some reason my butt was sore, I don't know if it was a lick I took in the game or what."

Whatever the cause of this fascinating Monday injury report—most likely from the third quarter when the Bulldog back tried to squirm on his, ummm, backside towards the goal line—the fact is Dixon was a much bigger pain in the posterior to Kentucky. And, that his Halloween Night slashing of the Wildcat defense gave Mississippi State's record-setting runner one more first-place in the Bulldog books. Dixon's 252 yards were the most ever for a MSU runner, eclipsing the standard of 247 set in 2005 by Jerious Norwood against Houston.

Thus Dixon has added the game-yards mark to the career rushing record he rewrote two weeks ago; he now has 3,604 yards in four seasons. All that's left in the MSU book is the season total, and at 1,001 this week Dixon has three more games to reach 1,383 (James Johnson, 1998). It's a topic this Bulldog is bound to hear about often all month from the guys responsible for tracking his records: his family.

"They give me different things to chase, they bring them up and say this person has all this and you haven't got that yet. So I'm like, alright! That's just how me and my brothers do it, once I get one goal it's time to go after something else. Why not?!"

Why not indeed? Dixon and the Bulldogs certainly expected him to have a productive evening against a Kentucky team that looked vulnerable to hard running. But 252 yards and a record? Those looked to be fantasies…until the man himself got rolling up and down the field on what became a fantastic evening. While Dixon had run for 100 or more yards 14 times (another program record) before he'd never topped 200 yards in a college game.

He got there before the third quarter was out, on a 47-yard jaunt that not only dug the Dogs out from their 13-yard line but triggered what became the go-ahead drive. Which, fittingly, he capped by bulling over from three yards out for what proved the winning points in a 31-24 final score. Dixon had scored State's first touchdown, in the second quarter, by vaulting the final yard.

But he said today it wasn't going high but staying low that made this night the biggest and best as a Bulldog. "I like what I did. I definitely got my pads a little lower, I was hitting the holes." As well as punching quite a few holes in that out-manned Kentucky defense. For that matter Dixon did not have a single negative-rush all this SEC evening, which in itself might have been some sort of personal record. Regardless, he had only watched "bits and pieces" of the game tape as of Monday lunch; though he was ready to review by afternoon.

"I'll go over and get some treatment and then go in and watch the game, and watch a little bit of Alabama," he said. Not that he needed a whole lot of treatment beyond the bruised butt and a sore elbow, of course; it was the home team that's needing whirlpool time this week after getting pounded on what, ironically, was a designated Black & Blue game date.

"Kentucky made me earn it the hard way, they were out there playing hard and it was a physical game," Dixon said. "I'm feeling alright now, a win makes you feel a whole lot better!" By ‘you' Dixon meant ‘us' as in everybody involved with Bulldog football, playing and coaching and cheering alike. "I had a bunch of family and friends hitting me up, I think I had about forty text messages after the game!" Dixon reported. His cohorts could express their feelings more personally. For their lead Dog to score a major record was the bonus from a successful SEC road trip, one this team (now 4-5, 2-3 SEC) very much needed . Thus it was a more joyous, even raucous, locker room than usual.

"I was happy, it was just all joy. We had the big win, my family and friends showed me a lot of love, my teammates showed me a lot of love, they held me up in the locker room. They were just happy to get the job done, everybody was smiling. You know, when Coach is happy everybody's happy, things go a little better around him. So I'm just happy." For the record it was, not surprisingly, wild Dog Patrick Hanrahan who hoisted the 235-pound Dixon; no report on whether he was in the training room today with any strains.

"That's my boy," said Dixon. "He does a lot of blocking for me, and we sit in the running back room right beside each other, we spend some times off the field with each other."

Not to mention the quality time on-field together, such as when Hanrahan led the wishbone-blocking on both Dixon scores as well as the dive by RB Christian Ducre that tied the tally 17-17. Later Ducre came down badly on a catch, the lower leg going in the wrong direction upon landing. Fortunately the result was just bruises inside the knee and no real damage and Ducre should be ready for the Alabama game. But it meant Dixon had to carry the whole load the rest of the running-way. Obviously he was up to the opportunity with a career-high 33 rushes.

Yet his favorite wasn't the longest, that 47-yarder; nor either of his touchdown totes. He liked best a run in the first quarter. "The one on the sideline where I didn't run out of bounds on the defender." That poor Wildcat safety wished Dixon had because he took full-brunt contact at the end of a 37-yard ramble and was planted on his own backside. "I don't don't know who it was but it didn't matter. I didn't want to go out of bounds."

A quarter later Dixon forgot that philosophy on a sweep. His stopping the clock let Kentucky use their remaining two timeouts to force a punt, get a good return, and kick a field goal to lead 17-10 at halftime. Yes, Dixon got an earful from Coach Dan Mullen about this one, just not in the form of positive reinforcement.

"Oh, he told me that was terrible! That was the most terrible run, I wish could have put it back. I just made the mistake and didn't realize what the situation was and for some reason ran out of bounds. That was definitely out of character, a thing I don't usually do. I told him it wouldn't happen again." It didn't, and the only other hard words Dixon heard the rest of the evening were meant in jest after he was dragged down at the end of his 47-yard scamper. "My teammates have already been getting on me about that one! I wish I could take that one back, too."

Or better take it to the house, as Dixon has now done 39 times via rushing and 43 overall; both Bulldog records and top-tens in SEC history. The siblings now keep him alert to where Dixon stands on the league lists for yards and scores. This week he is the SEC's #2 man in average with 125.1 per-game, behind Alabama's Mark Ingram (125.5), and is sixth in the NCAA standings. Yes, Boobie knows this also and finds further motivation herein.

"I want to be up there with the best of the and I feel like I am one of the best. I just wanted to see where I was standing at and how much ground I needed to make up. I just want to be able to say I'm one of the best running backs in the country and I definitely want my play to do the talking. I don't want to have to come out and say it."

Not that Dixon is shy about saying, well, almost anything. He certainly looks forward to the next time he can talk to the man whose records he's been busy erasing, though they haven't spoken since Norwood was on campus for the Georgia Tech game. "I'm pretty sure we'll talk in the future!" Dixon grinned. Yet for all the joy this Dog takes in making plays and breaking records, as well as the fun found in press conferences (such as his description of Tyson Lee's touchdown pass to O'Neal Wilder as "breartiful"), Dixon has a perspective.

He also has a favorite record that isn't measured in yards or points.

"It's probably the wins that we've got since I've been here. When I watched Mississippi State when I was little they weren't doing a lot of winning before I decided to come here. So it's been big for me to go back home and say we won this week, we're in the win column this week. Just to show we can compete with the SEC, that's really the big one for me. Because like I was telling my teammates, that's what the scouts want, they want winners. If we ain't winners they're going to look at us like losers and it's going to be bad for us all together. So that would probably be the best one."

And the Bulldogs have three remaining chances to add to their 2009 and Dixon's career victory totals. Fortunately there's an open date in-between as after nine-straight games State needs a break. Dixon and teammates will be free for the weekend, though the Terry, Miss., native probably won't get to see his alma mater play their Thursday evening game.

So, "I'll probably just go home, kick it with my brothers, I might go up to the high school and see what's going on. I want to go watch the football game. I just want to go home and spend a little time with the family because I haven't been to Jackson since I've been here (since early August)."

But even during the down-time at least part of Dixon's mind will be on the upcoming contests. The November 14 home date with Alabama has been reserved by ESPN for prime-time viewing on either the first or second network with a 6:00 start. Pending how the Crimson Tide fares against LSU this weekend, State could for a second time this season be hosting a top-ranked opponent. If the atmosphere for the Florida game was electric, the outlook in two weeks could well approach lightning-storm stature when these rivals reunite.

"Oh, man, it's big. It's what we play for; the excitement, the opportunity that's coming up, we couldn't ask for nothing better," says Dixon. "That defense they've got, I can't wait to play against them. I mean, I've played against them three years and we've beat them two times. So we've got great confidence going into the game, we really feel like we can beat them. We know that we're probably going to be the underdog. Which is fine, we've got confidence that we can beat these guys, we have before."

And so what if Alabama held Dixon to 26 yards last November in Tuscaloosa? Kentucky was able to limit his damage in 2008, and look what happened with Boobie got a senior-shot at the Wildcats. He ran, more records fell, and the Bulldogs got a must-win for their ambitions of a successful season and bowl opportunity. It will be fun to re-view again, of course...but Dixon doesn't plan on spending all his open date watching old tape and sitting on his butt.

"But I ain't going to take too long on it because there's still a lot of unfinished business for me to do. I've got three more games and two more wins to get. We'd like to get all three of them."

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