With the Music City Bowl just a day away, we had the chance to talk to The Bruce Dickinson from For Whom The Cowbell Tolls, the SB Nation Mississippi State Blog. You should be able to find my answers to his questions on their site later on today.
FWTCT and BSD talk Dan Mullen, the MSU quarterback situation, predictions and more after the jump...
1.) MSU played a lot of good teams well this year, but couldn't break through with that signature win. Deconstruct the season as a whole relative to fans' expectations.
I think MSU probably played one of the touger schedules in the country this year. There were close games that we should have won (Auburn, South Carolina) and games we kept close that we weren't expected to (LSU). I think most fans would have liked to have seen an 8 or 9 win season, but once our injuries mounted on the OL, we knew it would be a long road.
2.) Talk a little bit about coaching. What is Dan Mullen's philosophy overall? Assess the job he has done in his tenure with the Bulldogs.
Mullen runs a spread-type offense, but is very good at tweaking it to fit the personnel on hand. For instance, his first year he ran a spread, but featured the power running game of Anthony Dixon
a good bit. He has slowly tried to mix in more passing schemes as our receiving corps has improved over his 3 seasons as coach.
I think when you look at the resources he has on hand, at Mississippi State, he has done a terrific job with recruiting, developing players, and putting the Bulldogs in a position to win just about every game they play. He has also brought a lot of attention to the program, whether through winning games we shouldn't have, his rekindling of the Ole Miss rivalry or the recent promotional gimmick of referring to Mississippi as "Our State".
3.) Offensively, Mississippi State was inconsistent. Is that large in part due to the quality of defenses in the SEC, or is there more to the story?
Yes, SEC West defenses are very tough, but we started having offensive troubles early in the season when we lost two of our starting linemen to various injuries in the Auburn game. We also lost a first-round draft pick left tackle, and those are not easy to replace. We seem to have played a bit of musical chairs on our line this year, and I just don't think we were able to settle in to a rhythm.
4.) Speaking of offense, who will we be seeing at QB for the Dawgs?
I think you will see Chris Relf
start. He has been a great QB for us over the past few years and Mullen will give him a chance to finish out his college career by leading his team to victory. However, don't be surprised to see Tyler Russell
in the game at times. He will come in to spell Relf for a series, or maybe even an entire quarter, and give our offense a totally different look. Relf is more of a "Tebow-esque" quarterback with great running/scramble ability and an average throwing arm. Russell is pretty much the exact opposite. He has a tremendous arm but his mobility has improved this season as well.
5.) Who are the names we need to know on both sides of the ball? Who should Wake Forest fans keep circled in their programs?
On Offense, keep an eye on Vick Ballard. He is our work horse running back and brings a lot of power. His partner in crime is LaDarius Perkins
who is fast and can also roll out to catch passes.
On defense, our line has been pretty good all year. Fletcher Cox
is a junior and already an NFL draft prospect, as well as Jonthan Banks. Our linebacker corps, which many thought would be a weak point in our defense this year, has actually played pretty well.
6.) How do you see the game playing out? What's your final score?
I have not seen Wake Forest play much football this year. Maybe parts of a game or two early on in the season. I think our defense will be to much to handle in this game and we will come out on top. Final score: 27-14 Bulldogs.