Yes indeed brother and sisters, you really can start to smell the meat that has been seasoning for months now; black bear, legally taken tiger chops two kinds in fact, Plains Buzzard, cougar, wild hog, wild kitten and pachyderm, while Bully has been making plans for the 2 litters of pups he plans to take in before taking a hunting trip to Texas where the pungent smell of decaying Aggies will be in the air, then come home to win a shooting match with some traveling Minutemen.
SEC Media Days began today but I can’t say it was that entertaining. The “Old Ball Coach” is no longer a participant but Bret Bielema , Butch Jones and a retread named Ed Orgeron got it started. I will comment on them as we go along. The second longest tenured SEC coach (Dan Mullen) comes Tuesday, Saban on Wednesday and Malzahn to close it out on Thursday.
So now before the coaches themselves throw out their thoughts on a West pecking order I will share mine with you and give some reasoning to it. Please join in and leave your thoughts and prediction before the meat hits the grill. I would love to read and see your thoughts, you won’t hurt my feelings I promise. Please just remember we are hopefully all family here (Bulldog Family) and we need to support our young men and women as they seek to push our athletic programs to even greater heights than we have already achieved. It seems to me that we are in a “Golden Age” for Mississippi State as all programs are bringing new levels of accomplishment.
7th Place — TSUN
Someone has to be picked dead last, sorry Black Bears but I think your run at competing in the West is fast drawing to a close and you have no-one to blame but your own greedy people. I was impressed with the kid (Shea Patterson) that Coach Freeze pulled the red-shirt off of and although I think it was a mistake it was the only chance TSUN had to salvage a season. Although I think Patterson is a very special player (Manzelish?) with tons of moves and instincts to make plays that you just don’t coach Patterson will not be enough this time around either. There is very little to go with him. Gone are all those “under-the-counter recruits”. The money has run out and the ax is going to fall soon and I’m not sure how many can survive the sharpened steel. The running game was pretty weak last year so Freeze went out and recruited a supposedly good running back from JCJC but odd thing is the kid didn’t want to come play this year but will stay at Jones, strange isn’t it?
There are decent wide-outs if Patterson can quit running for his life long enough to find them. The defense became burnt toast last year and it won’t be better this year. It could be a long, long year at TSUN but Freeze will stay. After the NCAA is done who else would dare go there? Predicted Finish: 3-9 (1-7)
6th Place — Texas A&M
I have always loved the atmosphere and fans of A&M. To me they are class all the way. Change is in the wind though and a storm warning has been issued so Kevin Sumlin needs to start looking for another landing spot maybe William and Mary College or Arizona Tech? Sumlin had a little run at Houston as he did early at A&M but if you think back both times there was a built-in quarterback. A&M has had more quarterbacks come through than illegals walked through the Mexican border during Obamerama. None stayed more than a season and you better believe there was a reason. Do not be surprised if the Twelfth-Man and friends aren’t throwing Sumlin’s belongings into the back of a pickup truck by mid-October and they won’t ask if he has gas money to get out of town. Predicted Finish: 5-7 (2-6) Don’t be surprised if the A&M alumni don’t go out for #1 Bob Stoops, # 2 Troy coach Neal Brown, one of the best young coaches around!
5th Place — Arkansas
Bret Bielema came to the Razorbacks four years ago so he has his second full team of recruits this year. Arkansas played some great games last year for a half anyway but couldn’t close games out. Bielema is now 25-25 (10-22) and the voices are getting louder with alumni including Jerry Jones. Arkansas has another Allen at quarterback again this year and strong running backs also. Arkansas lacked something that Bielema’s teams have always had last year, toughness. They were manhandled many times and that doesn’t change in a season. Their isn’t defensive depth at Arkansas to make a run so they will most likely get shoved around again. If they don’t get TCU and A&M early then it will be a painful season for the Razorback faithful. Bret Bielema just had his first child, I wonder in what state they will find a daycare at next year?Predicted Finish: 6-6 (2-6)
2nd through 4th will get tough with a handful of key, key games.
4th Place — Auburn
As hard as it may be to believe Auburn fans may be starting to realize they just aren’t going to win the West until Nick Saban retires. I think they will accept a three loss season but four losses, I’m not sure if they could stomach that. So if they lose at Clemson then can’t get the job done when State comes calling then they may lose five and Malzahn would probably be history. How would they pay him and his cronies off? They haven’t gotten Gene Chizik paid off yet.
Now Auburn’s defense did improve last year but their secondary couldn’t cover a bowl of potato salad. There are very good running backs returning but if the Baylor transfer (Jarrett Stidham) can’t get the team to follow him they will struggle on offense. So far he hasn’t sounded like a “team man” though. Think back, how many transfer quarterbacks have been able to “fit in” and lead their new team the first year? None I can think of. Dude at A&M (Trevor Knight) last year was mediocre at best. Coker at Alabama had to work second team after transferring from Florida St. for a year before he could lead.
If State can gain revenge on “The Plains” and LSU swarms them at Baton Rouge then Georgia awaits (lost to them 3 in a row, the win was a miracle) and Alabama also. Predicted Finish: 7-5 (4-4) @ Clemson, State and @ LSU are their keys.
3rd Place — LSU
Listening to the deep voice of Ed Orgeron grumble through his Media Day lecture was in all kindness.....BORING. He went through every position on the team three deep (honestly). His voice inflection never changed at all! When the crew of The SEC Network interviewed him and Derrius Guice (talented running back #5) Orgeron’s mouth hung open as he looked at his running back talking about what the coaches and team were doing and hoped to do. It was like Orgeron was saying “ Damn, why didn’t somebody tell me?” Don’t get me wrong, he is a very good defensive coach but he is not a head coach, just isn’t! Two years and he’s gone...write it in stone. (hey that rhymes!)
LSU hired Matt Canada as their offensive coordinator to make their offense potent. Canada comes from Pittsburgh after 1 year where they were 8-5 last year. Really? Really? 8-5 at Pitt qualifies him to challenge as an offensive coordinator in the SEC West. Wow, Orgeron, wow. LSU will play lights-out defense as long as they can get a rest here and there (Bama last year) but they couldn’t run the ball on any NCAA defense ranked in the top 40 last year. Guice, yes he is very good but so was Fournette. If a quarterback doesn’t beam in from Mars then LSU will struggle on offense again as they have for the last...10 years? State needs to jump on them hard and have a totally into it crowd when LSU comes calling Sept. 16th, it is key to both teams. Troy will roll the Trojan Horse into Baton Rouge two weeks later and I would almost bet you Troy will empty the bleachers in the 4th quarter. Coach Brown at Troy is a young dynamic coach (37 years old) that is recruiting well, coaches lights out and those kids are running through flames for him. They nearly knocked off Clemson at Clemson last year taking it down to the last 3 minutes. Troy will be good and play really hard against LSU. Predicted Finish: 7-5 (4-4) Beat Auburn (key), TSUN, Arky and A&M.
2nd Place — Mississippi State
Yes I’m stepping out for my beloved State but I think it is very achievable. I look for our defense to have the strongest year they have had since Coach Collins was here (he is head coach at Temple now). I believe that Fitzgerald will erase some of Dak’s records in the next two years if he stays healthy. I don’t want to talk about that for fear of jinx but it is a major key. Without Fitz State won’t win but a handful at best. Keytaon Thompson will be awesome in time but he needs to be given situations in which he can grow and make some mistakes so he can learn, not have to be thrown in and struggle until he has no confidence left. Lord, please protect our quarterbacks. The running game should be improved this year and IF we can get LSU at home then I think Fitzgerald goes to Athens the next week with a ton of confidence and wanting to punish Georgia for never really considering him. The next week State goes to Auburn where an awful lot in the SEC West could be decided. These three early games will be absolutely critical to what level this teams rises to this year and the future. I think we will win 2 of these three and be 4-1 going home to host BYU for some payback and a chance to have a real run at Alabama. Predicted Finish: 10-2 (6-2)
1st Place: Alabama
Well how can you really go against them. I love our guys, our school, our coaches and our chances but in football, yeah it all goes through Alabama. Alabama does play at State Nov. 11th right after their home game with LSU. They could be ripe if we are playing well. Let us hope but until then Alabama has to be beat by someone and I don’t see it happening. They just have too many stallions in the barn to keep trotting out. I think his players are too afraid of Nick Saban to lose. If he can win another National Championship I have hopes he will retire. Saban turns 66 years old this Halloween. Predicted Finish: 13-0 (8-0)
Let me know what you think, predict and why. Football is coming like a freight train now!
Buy tickets and make plans to help State have another special season and special year. Keep believing in our student athletes and coaches because we have some of the best of both. Remember how things were even ten years ago. Be proud, be loud and support The Dawgs!