MWN Mailbag: Sea of Blue Edition


Nov 8, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; A Mississippi State Bulldogs fan waves a bulldogs flag against the UT Martin Skyhawks during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Big game coming up for Mississippi State this Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats are the only team Mississippi State has not lost to since
Dan Mullen became the head coach of the team.

It also signals the beginning of 5 straight SEC games. Louisiana Tech was the last team the Bulldogs played that was not a conference opponent. So the games are just a little bit more important from here on out.

And with another game coming up, you have more questions. I must admit I am impressed with the way people are finding different ways to ask the basic question of what is wrong with the running game. You guys are getting creative.

I have quite a few questions this week. I always try to answer every single one I get, and this week will be no different.

On to the questions!

I told you they were getting more creative. After all we have looked at in regards to the running game, I think it simply comes down to the fact that Shumpert isn’t very good and Holloway isn’t a good fit for this system. Williams and Lee seem to be the far superior backs in terms of talent, but the coaching staff doesn’t think they’re ready to handle the burden of the carries.

We’re making this way too complicated. I wish there was some obvious thing we are doing on offense that could unlock the running game, but there isn’t. We just have to accept we have the greatest quarterback in the history of our school right now and let him make the plays.

I think it has to be the defense. If the defense can get their act together in the first quarter, then it can allow the offense to get things revved up later on in the game. But if the defense continues to struggle, they could let a game get out of hand before we know it.

Also, the defensive struggles have been far more consistent. The offense has played decently in some games to begin the game. One of those games was against Auburn. The offense also got off to a good start against Southern Miss, but the fumble right in front of the end zone blurred the reality of how well the offense was playing to start that game. The defense definitely needs to get their act together in the first quarter.

Don’t be. Lewis plays the position Mississippi State has their most depth at, which is linebacker. Richie and Beniquez Brown and J.T. Gray are leading the team in tackles, and J.T. Gray isn’t even considered a starter. Zack Jackson isn’t great, but he has been better this year than he was last season.

The coaches do have a decision to make now, though. Dez Harris is out for the rest of the year with his third torn ACL. For now, DeAndre Ward will serve in the role Harris was playing. If Ward can’t get the job done as the backup for Beniquez Brown, the coaching staff will have to decide if they need to pull the redshirt off of Lewis. We’re likely to find out pretty quickly this week.

He is a stud. And whether or not he actually runs a 4.25, he certainly looked like he ran a 4.25 after picking off the errant Driskel pass this past Saturday. I could certainly see the coaches throwing him back there on kickoff returns or punt returns in practice and see how he does with it. Learning kickoff returns isn’t horribly difficult as you normally have plenty of room to make a catch and then make a play. Punt returns are a different animal. You often have to make a catch with a defender right on top of you. But his speed would definitely be nice back there.

The Officiating Crew from last Saturday’s game was an SEC crew. The head official was Ken Williamson. You might remember Ken from last season as he did one of the more memorable things a head referee has ever done in Mississippi State’s game against Texas A&M.

Maybe the officiating was terrible. The only one that was so bad enough to stick out to me was when they put the ball on the wrong spot after Louisiana Tech’s receiver was ruled out of bounds when he broke off a big gain. I’m just glad you asked so I could have an excuse to put that clip into a post again.

Interesting question. I think Mississippi State fans will look back over the past five years and realize how high the standard has been raised. If you think it hasn’t been raised since Dan Mullen has been here, you’re mistaken.

This season, Mississippi State was picked to finish last. And for the most part, that was the overwhelming sentiment by almost all who follow the SEC. And anything less than 8-4 will be considered disappointing by most fans. At the beginning of this 5 year period you’re speaking of, Mississippi State fans just wanted to be bowl eligible.

Dan Mullen has made his job more difficult. Because he has sustained success here, Bulldog fans are growing more and more accustomed to bowl games and winning seasons. The odds are heavily in Mississippi State’s favor of having a winning season and bowl appearance for 6 years in a row. If Mullen does so, no one else will have ever come close to matching that type of success at the University.

If in 15 years Mississippi State has been to 12 or 13 bowl games and 8 win seasons are the bare minimum to make Mississippi State fans happy, then we’ll have the last five years to thank for that.

She absolutely knows how to make chicken spaghetti. And I absolutely love to eat it. Mrs. Strawn does amazing things in the kitchen.

And while I am bragging on her, let me just say how blessed I am, and how blessed my children are. Both my wife and I work, and we both work a lot of hours, and there is no way we could get everything done that needs to be done if we weren’t a team and both helped out as much as we can. Her job is extremely stressful and she pours every ounce of her being into it. She also pours every ounce of her being into being a mother and wife. She wants to do everything to the best of her abilities, and she works so hard at being the best at everything she does, she is often exhausted by the time she gets home.

And yet, this past Sunday, she was preparing different meals most of the day so we could have something to eat every night that wasn’t bought through a drive thru window. And she wouldn’t be eating most of it because she would be getting home from work so late she would just want to crash when she got home. Maybe it’s just the difference between being a man and a woman, but when I get home, it’s easy to forget about work. For her not so much. And she still is an amazing wife and mother with all that stress stacked on her.

More from Mississippi State Football

I say this because my wife is an Ole Miss grad. Though they are few, there are Mississippi State fans who ask me all the time how I can possibly be married to an Ole Miss grad. Some have even questioned my loyalty to Mississippi State because I married someone from Ole Miss. If you can’t tell, I married an amazing person. And there are some who get so caught up in the rivalry and have such warped opinions and prejudices about people based on the school they pull for in college football, they won’t give fans of their rival the time of day. There are times my wife and I wish we could have gone to college together and shared those experiences. But a significant part of what makes her the person she is and what makes me the person I am is where we went to college. And to change that would be to change each other. And neither of us want to do that.

Well, the obvious answer is 4. But I think Daniel is trying to go deeper here. I think Daniel is really asking a philosophical question.

At this time last year there were TWO teams that played in the SEC from the state of Mississippi and in the SEC. One sat at number one in the rankings, and the other was number three. Since that time, the team ranked number 3, Ole Miss, has gone 7-6 and is clinging to their spot in the top 25. The number one team, Mississippi State, has gone 8-5 and sits right outside the top 25.

The 2015 season has brought DOUBLE the dose of reality to the state of Mississippi. It has brought back the pain of just how difficult it is for the teams in Mississippi to ever have a breakthrough season to win the conference.

So what’s 2×2 Daniel? 2×2 is sorrow and grief, my friend.

Next: Will Redmond's Career Ended by a Torn ACL