MWN Mailbag: Strain Edition


Oct 4, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs fan rings his cowbell during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

It’s mailbag time here at Maroon and White Nation. You guys have questions, and I have answers.

So the Bulldogs, predicted to finish last in the SEC, just beat the team predicted to win the SEC (but finish 2nd in the West, still don’t get that one). Just goes to show the media doesn’t have everything figured out like they so often think they do.

It was a good win for the Bulldogs. Any time you can go on the road and walk away victorious in the always tough SEC West, it’s a good thing. And remember, this was an “upset” because the Bulldogs were 2 to 2.5 point underdogs depending on which line you went by. So the Bulldogs did a nice job of pulling off the upset of the Tigers.

But life in the SEC means going from one tough game to another tough game. The Bulldogs have their second straight road game on the schedule. They head to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in what is sure to be am entertaining (and possibly interminably long) football game.

To the questions!

Yes. The key word there being significant, and not starting. I have faith in Mullen to realize after two SEC games that Shumpert isn’t going to be able to get the job done and start distributing carries to other players. Most likely he gives more carries to Holloway first and a few extra to Lee and Williams. I hope I’m right because we can’t continue to operate at this level.

If you have no idea what Lewis is talking about, Mullen was talking about the effort the defense gave in the press conference after the game on Saturday, and said they had “Great strain”. And people started making strain jokes. Thank you Internet!

Now then, about the running backs. I don’t think it is effort or “strain” so much as it is execution. Shumpert isn’t attacking the line. The offensive line is blocking superbly when it comes to pass protection, but not run blocking. This isn’t an effort problem. The team has to execute.

As for your paycheck’s “strain”. It depends. Where are you giving “great strain” in the other areas of your life? If you are straining too much in areas that you shouldn’t be straining at, there isn’t enough “strain” for your paycheck to help the ole bank account.

This is probably going to be the key to the Bulldogs being able to score. The Aggies are not a great defensive team. They rank 60th in FBS for total defense, but they get after the quarterback like very few teams. The Aggies currently lead the SEC in sacks with 5 more than the Gators. I think the Bulldogs need to use draw plays and roll Dak out of the pocket to neutralize the pass rush of the Aggies. Texas A&M is 81st in FBS in defending the run, but Auburn wasn’t very good either and State did nothing. Running the ball right at the Aggies would be the best approach, but I’m not confident the Bulldogs are capable of doing so right now.

And the answer to your second question is pretty much the same answer as your first. The Razorbacks lined up and ran the football. it’s what made them successful last season, and they got back to it this season. Arkansas ran the ball 42 times against Texas A&M. Without question, the best way to slow down the dynamic offense of the Aggies is to simply keep them on the sideline. The Aggies aren’t good at stopping the run, but they are great at sacking quarterbacks. Without a somewhat reliable running game, those linemen are going to pin their ears back and come after Dak with everything they have. If we can’t at least make the running game a viable option against the Aggies, it could be a long day in College Station

I think it is both. Teams have made a concerted effort to keep Dak in the pocket, so he is taking what the defense is giving him. And since this is what the defense is giving him, Mullen is going to call less straight up quarterback runs. I know everyone think he needs to run more, but it isn’t working as well. We can’t do things that won’t work if we are going to win football games.

I don’t think it has gotten out of control, but there are times when it flies off the rails. The stakes have gotten much higher with both teams playing significant roles in the outcome of the division, and conversely, the national championship. People are more invested in their respective teams, so they can get more testy about it.

Is it more or less enjoyable? It really depends on the person. There are some who relish the vitriol. Some, like myself, just get tired of it. I’m all for a good discussion, but I’ll check out of a conversation on Twitter or Facebook about the Egg Bowl once people start slinging mud or getting personal, and that almost always seems to happen.

It’s a good rivalry, but like all good rivalries, they sometimes go too far. And I think that is happening more often than it used to.

If these are my only two choices, then I’m going to have to take butter pecan. But even it would be much further down my list of ice cream flavors. As a matter of fact, here are my ice cream flavor power rankings;

  1. Cookies and Cream
  2. Chocolate Fudge Brownie
  3. Cheesecake Brownie
  4. Vanilla Chocolate Swirl
  5. Caramel Swirl
  6. Rocky Road
  7. Plain Vanilla
  8. Plain Chocolate
  9. Butter Pecan
  10. Neopolitan

I’d rather eat litter from my daughter’s cat than eat mint chocolate chip. But hey, that’s just me. If you ever have a question you want me to answer in the MWN Mailbag, send them in to me on Twitter @JustinStrawnMWN.