LaDarius Perkins was the SEC Freshman of the week and it was good to see him get the recognition he deserves after a great performance Saturday night in the 29-24 victory over UAB. As a loyal Bulldog fan, I must say that the team performance was less than spectacular and there were several moments during the game that I considered turning to alcohol in an effort to calm my nerves. Coach Mullen was adamant the entire week before the game that UAB should not be taken lightly and he worried that his team would slip after the emotional high they'd gotten from beating Florida and becoming ranked for the first time since 2001. Boy was he right! Mississippi State could've easily lost that game had it not been for kicker Derek DePasquale. After some lackluster performances by Sean Brauchle, Coach Mullen made the decision before game time to give DePasquale a shot. In hindsight, it turned out to be the moment that won the game.
DePasquale was perfect. He put all five field goal attempts through the uprights and kept the winning streak alive. I've always been one of those people that doesn't understand why the kickers always get such a bad wrap. Kickers are a necessary part of the game, and although I don't think anyone can argue that a kicker's athleticism is inferior to most other positions on the team, it still doesn't make them any less important to getting close victories. There is big time pressure involved with making some of those kicks and I often wonder how those guys are able to cope with it.
I saw a short interview with DePasquale during The Dan Mullen Show and he provided some interesting insight as to how he copes with that pressure. He said that when the game is going on he refuses to look at the score board. He said he barely talks to the other players during the game because he wants to know as little as possible about what is going on. Before he steps onto the field, if players approach him to provide a boost of confidence he waves them off.
I like that approach. DePasquale seems to be all business when its game time and it showed Saturday night. Thanks to him, I managed to leave the alcohol alone and stick to sweet tea.