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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Week 1

Looking at the performances that stood out in week 1, for better or for worse.

NCAA Football: Charleston Southern at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Good:

The defense, which has received a lot of praise for its performance on Saturday, well it was…..deserved. In Grantham’s first game as Defensive Coordinator for the Bulldogs, he delivered on his promise to play aggressive and force the issue from a defensive standpoint. While the quality of opponent was very evident to our success on Saturday, it cannot take away from the fact that the Bulldogs were flying around the field.

Jeffery Simmons was unblockable at times and I think for our defense to have some fire and grit throughout this season, Simmons will need to play to the abilities he possesses. He is our most talented and possibly “NFL Ready” player on the roster. When you consider that fact that we will play LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, and Alabama, all teams who are built to run the ball, Simmons ability to break up the inside for our linebackers like Dez Harris and Leo Lewis to make plays is going to be HUGE as the season progresses.

The belief that we might be competent at defense is there and Grantham getting the fanbase bought into his style in one game is a clear example of the difference a proven SEC defensive coach can have with our players compared to his predecessor.

The Bad:

Guys, I want to come out clearly and state: I am a Fitzgerald fan. That being said, he left a decent bit to be desired for a QB getting the praise he did this past off season. For someone billed as one of the top SEC QBs and borderline NFL draftee this coming May, Fitz needs to work on his passing. Now again, a lot of this can be chalked up to the level of the team we were facing but unlike the argument for the defense, it almost seemed like Fitz did not come with his A-game against an inferior team.

Did that stop us from putting up 49 points? No. Did he still have a good game with an okay completion percentage and 3 total TDs? Yes. So what is my issue? Well, watching the game from my brother’s Magee estate, I noticed that Fitz throws a high ball. By that I mean, on a decent bit of his longer passes (post and long hitches) the receivers were forced to go up and catch the ball or risk it sailing well over their heads. This could be an issue that hurts us for 2 reasons down the line in my eyes:

A) Making our receivers go up for those balls as opposed to hitting them in stride can prevent the receivers we have from the smooth transition of their routes, from catch to run. Our go to receivers this year such as Donald Gray, Gabe Myles, and Keith Mixon are not necessarily huge targets size wise but once they get the ball in their hands and moving, they are tough to tackle. We want them catching the ball and immediately moving forward to try and make that safety or cornerback miss a tackle and make the play bigger than just a catch and tackle.

B) Again, with our go to WR’s this year not being super tall, some of these high balls could lead to overthrows and picks against better defenses, which we all know are coming. Turnovers are killers in every way and pick 6’s are THE WORST. Fitz just seemed a little lazy with his footwork and throwing technique but hopefully this was due to not having to go above and beyond to beat this opponent and he will sharpen up.

Just something to keep an eye on going forward, guys. Again, I am a Fitzgerald fan.

The Ugly:

In a 49-0 win it is hard to find an ugly. I have seen criticisms of the offensive line which I agree with for the most part. But also chalk that up to any offensive line with new starters needs game time to become cohesive, which MSU is lucky to have our first couple games (no disrespect La. Tech we need to take them serious) to get that going.

The kickers as always were not sharp but this was a true freshman and he did hit a 40 yarder so I am cutting the kid a little slack. His PATs were true, which is something we cannot say about last year unfortunately. Kicking is not perfect, but give the rook time to get used to playing in front of crowds that size. Kicking is as much mental as physical and a lot of these kids especially freshman have been playing in front of crowds about 1/60 the size of Saturday’s crowd. Tucker Day you showed some promise so I stand beside you, for now.

My ugly is the whole Chauncey Rivers situation. He is currently not academically eligible to play and by all reports will be taking an academic redshirt year so we will not see him in Maroon and White until 2018. WHAT A JOKE. This guy is a JUCO transfer who arrived in January with all the hype and praise to be a starting DE for us this year and make a huge difference, and yet we/EMCC messed up on his academic class transfers? How does that happen? Did we know all along?

I place blame on both sides here for A)not getting the kid who is at “Last Chance U” (which we all have seen the academic difficulty of that school thanks to the show) qualified B)MSU for not knowing about his eligibility before he arrived on campus. Maybe MSU knew it was a risk and figured they could have him for 2018 worse case which is fine but don’t praise him up in Spring Training just to take him out come the fall. I think this was a mess up on someone’s part and I am not thrilled as I was very high on this guy from Signing Day. Academic Eligibility checkers, BE BETTER.

We have Louisiana Tech this week which based on prior experience could prove to be a handful. Here is to hoping a focused Bulldog team takes the field and we can dominate in every aspect of the game. LSU is lurking around the corner but let’s take care of these Bulldogs first.