AN ABSURDLY PREMATURE ASSESSMENT OF: MISSISSIPPI STATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - SMQ spins the wheel for a hastily-rendered, too-soon look at a random school's prospects for the fall, sans inevitable academic and criminal suspensions, sudden transfers, debilitating injuries and other miscellaneous misfortunes of the long summer
Today: MISSISSIPPI STATE - - - - - SMQ's MSU-fan relatives on the fall: What's next baseball season looking like?
PAST FIVE SEASONS: 15-45 (6-34) - 2005: 3-8 (1-7 SEC) STARTERS BACK, ROUGHLY: 17 (8 Offense, 9 Defense) WHAT'S CHANGED: Very, very little: the coaches are back, the quaterback is back, the top receivers are back, literally everyone on defense is back. The major change will be the loss of the best players on each side, running back Jerious Norwood - the school's all-time leading rusher, struggles against most decent defenses aside - and disruptive end Willie Evans, one of the few major bright spots the last two years. WHAT'S THE SAME: The 'Dogs are still well, well behind the SEC curve in terms of talent and lack any notable identity other than futility, especially on offense. Croom hasn't done anything yet to give the impression the program that's devolved quickly into the SEC's worst is inching forward. DOES WAYNE MADKIN HAVE ANY ELIGIBILITY LEFT? Norwood's graduation hurts moreso because it might put even more pressure on the passing game, one of the nation's most hapless non-flexbone efforts behind two quarterbacks who barrely topped 1,500 yards and were sacked 3.3 times per game, tenth-most nationally. Omarr Conner was better than Mike Henig, though Conner's only notable performance came against Murray State and his athleticism wound upi making him the team's best receiver over the last two games of last year. That leaves Henig, who threw two touchdowns to help whip Ole Miss but otherwise had no scores and five picks in five extended performances as a redshirt. He was the most improved player during the Spring...which means, what, a 1 to 3 TD-INT ratio in the fall? A 200-plus-yard game? Both would be improvements. The defense should not be so bad: other than Evans, just about everybody returns from the nation's 29th-ranked group, including leading tackler Quinton Culbertson and former stud recruit Deljuan Robertson. The front seven did a good enough job getting into opposing backfields, but got put in too many bad situations by the stunning ineptness of the offense to even keep any of the losses close. OVERLY OPTIMISTIC POST-SPRING CHATTER: Sylvester Croom, who once ran players off so quickly the team adopted the official slogan, "The Few. The Proud. MSU Football," is much more welcoming to the six players who pled guilty last week to assaulting a cop at a bar last month:
Pegues, especially is a star in the making at cornerback, a kid of whose talents SMQ is well aware. REASON FOR HOPE: How much of an impetus was the season-ending Egg Bowl win, the first since 2000 and easily MSU's best game of the year? There was some brief hope after the 2004 upset of Florida and follow-up win over Kentucky, but that quickly dissipated back into futility - was beating Ole Miss a legit jumping-off point? REASON TO BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID: The quarterback spot has been so bad, even if the other pieces manage to align themselves, Henig, Conner or whoever have shown zero ability to steer straight. HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING: Four wins would be an improvement, five a near miracle. Croom has pulled one out-of-nowhere good performance - against Florida, against Ole Miss - out of these ragamuffins once in each of his first two seasons; two such upsets this year would be a leap.
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And don't let the name fool ya - second guessing the phenomenal athletic feats and split-second decisions of college kids under extreme physical duress is for every day of the week.
AWWW!! The totally nicest people, like, ever!...
How much football does he watch? Dude's got insights on -everybody-, and by everybody, I mean everybody. Throw in some of the best writing in the blogosphere, and we're talking about a daily must-read.
- Burnt Orange Nation
SMQ starts to sound more and more like the Gregg Easterbrook of our ideal memories every day - whip-smart, systematic, omnivorous in his intellectual tastes and yet unafraid of the cheap joke.
- Every Day Should Be Saturday
Sunday Morning Quarterback is one of our favorite football blogs on the internet.
- State Fans Nation
Sunday Morning Quarterback is a killer football blog if you are a college football junkie. It is run by one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and analytical writers in the college football blogosphere...The guy is thorough and detailed and provides a level of analysis you are not going to find anywhere else .
- Bruins Nation
Just another hack writer who hasn't done one lick of research...
...the pride of Southern Mississippi ever since Brett Favre turned into an ESPN soap opera, has the sort of prose knack that can keep you riveted to a preview about any one of D-IA's scrubbier members ... should be given gifts.