Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

In Defense of the 2013 football season...

We’ve been pretty hard on Dan Mullen and the football program of late. Some say too much, some say not hard enough, some say just about right. We don’t really have a writer who vocally defends the performance on the field, so I thought I’d take to the message boards to find some in the interest of being fair and balanced…

slickdawg on EliteDawgs: what may have happened..

Spring: 2012, with the graduation of Chris Relf, we commit to gearing our offense from a run spread option for a pocket passing QB in Tyler Russell. Spring and fall camp focus on this highly. Tyler sets a boatload of passing records in the 2012 season, but he has a bad couple of last games. #2 QB Dak Prescott sees limited action, usually in short yardage situations and has a limited set of “Dak” plays.

Spring 2013: Tyler Russell is our guy, record setting QB at State. We’ve tooled the entire offense around him and his tremendous arm. We are so engrained in this and so dedicated to it, we gave up the second fewest sacks in the SEC in 2012, even though we all feel Tyler holds on to the ball too long at times. He’s a 5th year senior, it’s his team, custom made for him. He is seeking redemption for his last two games.

In Spring ball: We have one healthy scholarship QB (Tyler) who was coming off a knee issue from Dec/Jan. Dak had turf toe surgery and was out for spring ball, and not cleared until late July. We lost five receivers to graduation including all the starters. We’re counting on a JUCO WR (Chappelle) and some incoming HS players (Wilson, Ross, etc) to step up.

Summer / fall camp: Tyler has worked with our receivers, Dak has been limited and has to play catch up.

Game 1, Oklahoma State, Tyler looks crisp, marches us down field, Tyler scrambles and slides, OSU LB hits him up high, takes a shot to the head. Completes a check down to LDP, Tyler is 5/5 thus far. Next play, Tyler just about throws a pick at the goal line, aiming for Tubby. LDP runs a play, Tyler calls timeout next play. Throws to LDP in the flat for a first down, negated by Morrow holding. Tyler then has to throw it away. We kick a FG.

Next series, starting at out own 15, Perkins runs right for 19 and 20, then up the middle for 2, then 5. Russell floats it too high in the flat for LDP, tipped, picked. The DB didn’t have possession before he stepped on the line, but that’s a different story. My point is, Tyler wasn’t the same after the hit. We run four straight plays, then pass, it’s a bad pass, and picked.

Later in the game, Tyler officially gets a concussion, Dak has a baptism by fire. Dak isn’t the refined pocket passer that Tyler is, but he is more mobile.

Tyler is out a month, we have to take our true run spread option QB and put him behind the reigns of a schematically pass oriented offense.

You don’t spend two years prepping for a pass oriented offense, then easily switch back to the run oriented spread. That’s a task for spring camp, not during the season. I believe this is a major contributor to why we are where we are.

Also, I should add, injuries at safety are killing us. Losing Jay Hughes early in game 1 for the season, then various injuries to Dee Arrington, we are basically on a third string safety. Kendrick Market has been getting better and better, and has made some great plays, but Hughes is like having another coach on the field. Arrington is a vicious tackler.

We have four games left this season, and I hope we will all four. I know the odds of that are low, but I’m a Mississippi State fan, and I’m cheering for our players and coaches without exception. If we need to have a coaching change, that discussion happens after the Egg Bowl. Until then, #HAILSTATE

Paperdog on SixPackSpeak: A national broadcaster’s viewpoint…

Tim Brando appeared on the Finebaum Show today. Paul asked Tim what he thought about the Mississippi State football programBasically, in summary this is what Brando said….

1. MSU is averaging 30 points per game which is good enough to win games in the SEC

2. Prescott is the first quarterback that Dan has had that can run the type of offensive system that Dan wants to run

3. The main problem with MSU this season is youth in secondary … He said the defense was too young in too many spots

4. MSU will be much older and much better next year … And has a chance to be “very very good” … Possibly a 10-win team

5. Mullen is the right man for the job and is headed in the right direction even though this season has been a disappointment in certain areas.

In other words, this is what will keep Mullen in place for many years to come. Stricklin will not step up to the plate and take on the heads-on criticism that would come for all corners if a coaching change was made. Brando is just one opinion … but he covers the SEC and has a national platform daily on radio.

The only thing that will remove Mullen from his present position is a complete collapse at the box office (that is what got Coach O in Oxford and Jeff Bower in Hattiesburg). If MSU averaged say 30,000 fans per game next season there would be cause for concern by the AD. However, as long as the box office numbers are good and next year’s team makes it way to 6-6 … Things will go on as is.

If you’ve got your reasons why we are where we need to be, and 2013 has been nothing to worry about, be sure to drop them in the comments section!

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