MWN Mailbag: Pounding the Hogs Edition


Nov 14, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs fans fill the Junction before the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for another round of MWN Mailbag questions. The questions took a more pessimistic approach this week than previous weeks. Most of that is due to the Bulldogs’ performance against Alabama.

It wasn’t fun to watch, but this week is a new week. The Bulldogs head to Fayetteville to take on the Razorbacks in a game that could go a long way to determining how the Bulldogs remember the 2015 season. So let’s crack it open and see what is on the minds of our readers.

To the questions!

The question is in reference to the second drive of the game, at least I think it was the second drive of the game, for the Bulldogs where Dan Mullen opted to go for a touchdown on 4th and goal from the 1 yard line. He left the ball in the hands of Dak, who was stuffed at the one yard line.

Was there a better call? I honestly don’t know. You want the ball in the hands of your best player. But running into the teeth of that defense does not usually work out. I personally would have loved a play action pass, but I’ll be the first to admit it might not have worked. Would Alabama have bit on a play action? I don’t know they would have since an effective running game is needed for play action to really work.

Alabama is just on a different level than Mississippi State. Beast Man Steve said it best. Ole Miss is the only team to beat Alabama this year and it took five turnovers, a miracle reception, and a missed offensive lineman down field penalty. And Alabama still lsot by less than a touchdown. It’s not easy to beat the Tide.

The most obvious answer is many of us who believed that were mistaken. Was it completely silly to think that? I don’t think so.

Mississippi State has a history of producing really good running backs. And Ashton Shumpert was more effective than Robinson in the last few games of the year. So it wasn’t coming from blind fandom.

And if the Lee and Williams were more prepared for the other parts of the running game, like pass protection and ball security, I think we’ve seen enough from them to believe they will be productive running backs. I think the coaching staff believes that as well. They just simply aren’t ready to handle the bulk of the carries.

It’s possible, but I don’t want to make any snap judgements. The Bulldogs are 1-1 in November, but the moment things look bad, people start to remember just how much the team usually struggles in November. Let’s see how they do against Arkansas this weekend. If we win, Mississippi State will have an opportunity to close the month out 3-1 and 9-3 overall. If the Bulldogs lose, things look more bleak. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Here is the thing about offensive linemen. You can have a group of guys that are low rated players perform at high levels. The 2014 Mississippi State offensive line did just that. The problem is they need lots of time and experience to develop their talent.

Mississippi State lost three of its starters from last year. They have an opportunity to have a really solid offensive line next year, mainly because of the playing time they are getting this season. But until that time, the offensive line is going to take their lumps.

I hope so. But I also thought Rankin was going to be able to step in immediately and contribute to this year’s offensive line. He was one of the reasons I wasn’t as concerned with the line play when the season began.

As for Story, he will likely be more of a project. He’s got potential to be a good lineman, but he is more in the mold of the previous offensive linemen we have recruited in the past. A guy who needs to be developed into a better player than what most people saw in high school.

Scott Lashley could be a difference maker. He is a highly touted recruit, and if he came to Mississippi State, he would have the potential to play soon. That would especially be true if the line struggles some next year as well. I don’t think they will have the problems they have had this season, but it’s possible.

To answer your question, I think some of the issues with the offensive line will be fixed with experience. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but if we go by last year’s unit, it is entirely possible.

The Hogs have been battling injuries most of the season. They are starting to get healthy, and that is allowing them to play much better than they were in September and October.

More than anything, the play of Brandon Allen is at a different level. Arkansas at one time needed him to manage games, not win them. Now he can do both.

Jake knows more about football than I will ever know, so I kinda feel like he is testing me on this, and I don’t take tests well. Now I’m all nervous and stuff.

There is always a counter for everything in football. Sometimes it is hard to figure out, but it is there. The one play that was forgotten about from Saturday’s game is Mississippi State had a touchdown, but Donald Gray just dropped it. I think the reason the play was there for the taking was because Alabama had employed this strategy. And in doing so, they open up space in the underneath routes.

The Bulldogs have two players who can take full advantage of underneath routes in Fred Ross and Donald Gray. This was evidenced by the missed touchdown. If defensive coordinators start playing a high safety on Wilson to take away his advantage in the end zone, you open up the middle of the field and the shorter routes. Alabama has linebackers and defensive backs who are far more capable of closing this gap down if Mississippi State tries to employ it. Arkansas and Ole Miss won’t be able to avoid being exposed over the middle if they try what Alabama did.

I hope I passed.

I think the technical term for what I wear is “trunks”.

Neither. I want a lightsaber.

Sorry guys, I ain’t jumping into the Syrian refugee debate. Somehow or another, that wouldn’t end well for me no matter what answer I put down.

Is the sky blue? Is the grass green? OF COURSE you can get a definitive power ranking of pork products. Pork is far and away my favorite meat, so you have come to the right place Joey. Here is the definitive Pork Power Ranking.

  1. Pulled Pork Shoulder
  2. Pork Ribs
  3. Pork Tenderloin
  4. Bacon, no it’s not number 1. Don’t even try to argue with me on this.
  5. Sausage
  6. Pork Chops
  7. Bratwursts
  8. Ham
  9. Pork Roast
  10. Whole Hog

Man, I’m starving now. That’s it for this week’s MWN Mailbag. Send me questions for next week’s Egg Bowl edition if you want to see it here.