MSU has begun their quest to better the 99' squad's 8-0 start. With the turn of the calender came a stretch of monumental ball games during the next couple of months. An undefeated September sets up a semi-tough October and an absolutely brutal November. But so far, so good for the Bulldogs.
State is coming off of a pretty dominating performance at Lexington. It was after an off weak and the Bulldogs looked well prepared early. In the end, MSU would take care of the Cats, 24-17, for the fourth consecutive time and also the fourth straight in Lexington.
Let's take a look back at the big SEC road win, and see who is rising and who is falling coming into the Tennessee game this Saturday.
On the Rise: The linebacking corp: Last season, there were endless questions about the linebackers and how they would replace two NFL draftees in K.J. Wright and Chris White. The beginning of the season was rather tough but they ended the year in the middle of the SEC and Cam Lawerence was a top 10 tackler. This year, the expectations have changed. But coming into the game, the jury was still out on how good they can be. They looked really good Saturday and showed just how talented they really are. The mixture of speed and power as well as a strong mind is becoming a fixture in this group and I think by the end of the year, they might be some of the premiere backers in the SEC. Deontae Skinner is becoming one of the more ruthless hitters in the conference as he laid two or three huge licks on UK playmakers. Not to mention the fact that Bednardrick McKinney was named the conferences co-freshman of the week after a 12 tackle performance. The depth is there as well. We saw just how talented the entire group was when Sophomore Christian Holmes came down the field on a kickoff and delivered one of the hits of the week on the returner. This group should be fun to watch the rest of the way. Look for them to play a big part in Saturdays game whether it be off the blitz, or in coverage.
On the fall: Joe Morrow and Nick Griffin: Does anyone know where these guys are? I do. They've been replaced by either experienced veterans or younger guys that seem more ready for the challenge. For Griffin, it's the latter. And the fact that Perkins' reliability has become greater now that he shows the ability to carry the load. Griffin spent another day on the bench as it seems the clear backups are Milton and Robinson. Judging by his tweets, it doesn't look like he's in a good place right now mentally and this could end up dropping him lower on the depth chart to the point where he might realize he doesn't want to be here. I hope this doesn't happen. I'm Nick's biggest fan and I'm pulling hard for the kid to get out of this funk and play how I know he can play. Once he gets popped a few more times and realizes that knee will probably hold up, I think the confidence will start flowing. He has the ability to be even better than Vick Ballard. I hope he gets the chance.
Morrow is a more peculiar case. I don't know if we're trying to hide him for this week or the next few, or if he's just not getting the job done in practice. But we have gone back to relying more on Bumphis and Arceto Clark instead of getting the talented redshirt catches. But he's had his opportunities. Two downfield passes were dropped at Troy in which a touchdown would have been the ultimate result both times. Another lackluster attempt at a ball against South Alabama showed that this kid simply is just not ready. Who knows, though, he could be set for big things in the second half. I hope they both are.