Any one who is a State fan and has ever accessed this crazy thing called the World Wide Web (invented by Al Gore) has surely heard of SixPackSpeak.com. This week we caught up with Dawgstudent and AzurriDawg to talk a little Mississippi State vs. South Carolina. See what the guys had to say in this week's Six with the Pack segment.
Q1: What grade would you give this team at the halfway mark in the season?
AzurriDawg: D. It is not just the end product but the way we got there. Struggling to beat La Tech and having to bench our starting QB to beat UAB. No defense against Auburn, no offense against Georgia, and the usual steaming pile of crap against LSU. Basically, I think we should at least be 4-2 right now, and should have looked a lot better doing it.
Dawgstudent: C-. A bit below average is the grade I would give. I expected to be 4-2 going into the USC game with a slim outside shot of 5-1. We put so much into that Auburn game it was obvious. Hell, even our scheduling was centered around the Auburn game. They wanted more days to prepare after the Memphis game b/c they thought it was a much easier to win @ Auburn than LSU at home. And it's a correct thought - but that game just changed a lot for the 2011 season as far as confidence for our team.
Q2: Tyler Russell comes in the 2nd half of last Saturday's game and throws 3 TD's. Some now say there's a QB controversy, some say Russell should be QB going forth. Who in your mind should be our QB?
AzurriDawg: I could probably write a book on this right now. Short answer, I think you have to give Russell the overwhelming majority of the snaps, but I would still use Relf at times. There are so many different things going on here. Was Russell the beneficiary of improved OL play? Yes. Did his play take some of the pressure off of the OL and RBs? Yes. Did he still look susceptible to a costly interception? Yes. BUT, did our offense look MUCH better than anything we have seen since Relf was stuffed on the goal line at Auburn? Most definitely, yes.
Russell still scares me to death on his timing and release, especially when he is throwing to the middle of the field. He has got to let go of it sooner and he will really start to take advantage of his accuracy and arm strength. That said, I think you have to give him a chance. As I have said countless times, we have yet to move the ball effectively on offense against a quality SEC team under Mullen. That means Relf has, by association, failed to do this as well. People yap about how Russell only lights up bottom feeders, but isn't that all Relf has done as well? As long as Russell takes care of the ball, I don't see any way our offense can be worse.
I say Russell is the primary, with a number of packages designed for Relf, for him to get 10-15 snaps a game in short yardage situations. We have to keep him involved if only to ensure that Tyrone Nix continues to have nightmares until Nov. 26.
Dawgstudent: Russell - no questions asked. Relf was solid last year. Something happened after the Auburn game. He has had 3 ½ games to produce with 1 ½ game being aGAINST inferior opponents (LA Tech and ½ of UAB). And for those that say Russell got his stats aGAINST UAB - well look at Relf's stats from the first half. And to close, I am not a Chris Relf hater. I would still continue to use him at QB in situations or if Russell struggles. It's just you have to reward good play.
Q3: South Carolina comes in with talent at the skill positions but inexperienced at QB. What do you think about the matchup between their receivers and our secondary Saturday?
AzurriDawg: That is way down the list of concerns for me. If they come in determined to pound the ball with Lattimore, which they should, we are going to have our hands full. I think Banks will have his moments against Jeffrey, but it is way too much to expect him to shut him down.
Dawgstudent: I first want to say Chris Wilson deserves some props. After the Auburn game, our D has played good enough the past 4 weeks to win every ball game. Our secondary is still our strongest part of the D so if we get beat there - it will be a long afternoon.
Q4: What are the keys for State Saturday in order to be able to get the W?
Don't stake them to an early lead.
At least slow down their DEs.
Continue to play Defense like we have the last few weeks.
Dawgstudent: Don't give up the big play for a TD and like any game - win the turnover battle. If we do that - I feel a W.
Q5: Who is your MVP for this Saturday?
AzurriDawg: 17, why not. I mean that literally and figuratively.
Dawgstudent: From left field, I present Jameon Lewis for no other reason than I want him to get more touches.
Q6: Score prediction?
AzurriDawg: 24-17. Cocks. This game could change the course of the season. A win under a rejuvenated Russell-led offense going into BYE-UK-UTM would completely alter the direction of this team. I can't call it based on what we have seen so far, so I will just hope I am wrong.
Dawgstudent: 27-24....State. Mind says picks USC but this is the game before the season I said we pull the upset. So the fan in me is speaking louder than the mind. Nothing USC has done this season has been that impressive including the Kentucky win. They had to break in a new QB so they ran up the score. Of course, I said we would beat either Auburn or Georgia or possibly both.