Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mississippi State preview

8:00 pm ESPN
Davis Wade Stadium Starkville, MS
South Carolina -6.5 O/U 40

Mississippi State is not a good football team. Sylvester Croom appears to be inept. They have won 6 games in two years ... combined. That being said, they return almost everyone, especially on defense. Look for them to be better this year. Don't expect 9-3 and an Outback bowl win, but look for 5-6 wins. Most people who think Mississippi State can go to a bowl think they will beat us or Ole Miss in addition to their gimmes.

This game is nearly impossible to forecast. South Carolina has unknowns at offensive line and defense. Mississippi State is a close knit team with another year of experience ready to break out .... or they are the same group of losers from last year. The most likely scenarios are a comfortable SC win or a close game. Few if any people outside of Starkville (and few in Starkville) think that Mississippi State can blow South Carolina out. Sorry I can't be more specific

The match-up

SC offense v. Miss St defense

Offense should be South Carolina's strength (and compared to the defense it certainly is). Defense is Miss State's strength. This is a matchup that bodes well for the Gamecocks. The edge should be Spurrier. Rarely can a coach overcome what players do on the field, but in close calls coaching makes the difference.

The line play will be huge. South Carolina's line has to be able to get at least a stalemate with Mississippi State. That won't be easy. (By the way, did you hear that starting guard James Thompson has been suspended for up to 4 games?) Miss State's interior line is good; they are large, and they will be tough to block. They are backed up by a stud at middle linebacker: Quinton Culberton #2 (expect to hear his name a lot). If the young line can get a stalemate at the line, then Cory Boyd and Mike Davis can get tough yards and Blake can throw to Sidney. If that happens look for a lot of points. If Blake plays the game on his back, it could be a along night.

SC Defense v. Miss St Offense

Mississippi State's quarterback (Michael Henig)is supposed to be something special in the making. Don't buy the hype. His reputation was made against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. To his credit, he played well, but he also played against a team that went 1-7 in conference and had just come off a Auburn-Arkansas-LSU stretch that may have tired them out just a bit. He will be rusty, and he will make mistakes; he may have a big play or two, but don't worry about it. Most of his success will probably come from our defensive errors.

Miss State's running game should not be much better. They have a sophomore (Brandon Thornton) at 5'10, 188 to rely on. They also have two tackles that did not start last year. If Nathan and Marque can clog the middle, even without penetration, it will be difficult for the Bulldogs to get anything going on the ground.

SC's defense still has to stop Miss St; they won't stop themselves. Miss St will probably score around 20 or so points because of the youth of our defense. Anything under that will be a victory, but that should be good enough to win.

What to look for

1. Its the first game of the season. Look for turnovers and penalties; these are always important, but usually magnified in the opener.

2. Control of the line of scrimmage will be key. Without time Blake can't pass; with time Henig might just be competent enough to be annoying.

3. How does South Carolina play as a team? Do they play together, to they get after the ball, are they scared to be in Starkville? South Carolina's biggest enemy could be themselves.

3 comments:

Joey C. said...

Go Cocks!

Moose said...

Good Post football expert. This games means a lot to both teams so it should be a hard fought battle. SC has more to lose by losing this game then Mississippi does. The game will be won or lost in the trenches. SC will win, due to the fact there defense will be on the field for most of the game. MSU offense is poor at best, from what I can tell, since they haven’t played a game yet.

A-dubs said...

We hail the Carolina and sing thy high praise....you know the rest....lets play ball!