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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

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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

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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:

Mississippi State football coach Sylvester Croom said Tuesday that six suspended players will not be penalized further and will be eligible for the season opener on Aug. 31 against South Carolina.

Cornerback Derek Pegues, safety Keith Fitzhugh, offensive tackle Michael Gates, quarterback Tray Rutland and defensive ends Charles Burns and Quinton Wesley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor simple assault, paid a $500 fine and received six-month suspended sentences.
"I think everything was done properly," Croom said. "I see no reason why we can't move forward from here."

...with two projected starters and three top backups, he did not add...

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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Previous absurdly premature assessments:
April 3: Central Michigan...April 4: Brigham Young...April 6: Kentucky...April 7: Bowling Green...April 8: Southern Cal...April 11: Rutgers...April 12: Marshall...April 13: Florida State...April 15: San Diego State...April 17: Alabama...April 19: Oregon State...April 20: Buffalo...April 22: NC State...April 23: Arizona...April 24: Memphis...April 26: Louisiana Tech...April 28: Iowa...April 30: Toledo...May 2: Ohio State

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3:49 PM

actually, msu last beat ole miss in 2001
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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.

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Past Seasons
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