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Smith Column: Football appears to be loaded, set for 2011 season

April 9, 2011

By DANNY P. SMITH
Sports Editor
sdnsports@bellsouth.net

The Mississippi State football team will gather together again in the fall with all kind of possibilities for a good 2011 season.
There are enough playmakers back for the Bulldogs to believe another successful year may be in the works.
Offensively, MSU returns its top nine rushers, top six receivers, all quarterbacks and players that accounted for 46 of the team's 48 touchdowns last season.
The Bulldogs should be able to score some points when the next season begins on Sept. 1 at Memphis.
Momentum was built after the season-ending victories against Ole Miss and Michigan in the Gator Bowl.
During Saturday's Maroon-White Spring Football Game at Davis Wade Stadium, MSU showed flashes of what it can be.
Quarterback Chris Relf, who will be going into his senior year with the Bulldogs, was effective early for the Maroon team, which won 23-20.
Relf made it look easy on the opening possession of the game with a seven-play drive covering 65 yards. He completed all three of his passes and had a 1-yard quarterback sneak for the first touchdown.
Signal caller Tyler Russell wasn't as sharp on his first possession, but he had a couple of nice completions to Chad Bumphis before the drive stalled. Russell did throw a 14-yard scoring pass in the second quarter to Malcolm Johnson for the White team.
It's safe to say that most of the 36,357 watched the game to see what redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Favre could do. He had his good moments. The 24-yard touchdown strike to Robert Johnson in the second quarter was nice.
One of the more positive highlights coming from the game was the performance of the place kickers. After Derek DePasquale nailed a 54-yard field goal for the White team, Brian Egan hit a 47-yarder for the Maroon squad, then DePasquale also made a kick from 47 yards out.
With the 43 total points scored, some may form the opinion that it wasn't a good day for the defense. There were some plays made by that unit throughout the game and one that caught the eye was an interception of Russell by linebacker Deontae Skinner of Macon.
As usual, there's not much you can take from a spring game. Coaches will tell you that one afternoon on the field doesn't measure the full capability of a team.
The Maroon-White Game gave the people that visited Super Bulldog Weekend just a taste of what's to come. Don't worry, real football is coming in about five more months.
One of the several former football players in attendance was Dominic Douglas, who was a linebacker from 2007-08. He likes what Dan Mullen has done with the program since he took over as coach.
"I have to commend him on everything he's done with the different components he's put together with the coaches and the players," Douglas said. "They did a good job in the (Gator Bowl) and I'm ready to see what's in store for this year."
The MSU fans needed a good show after what they had to endure during the baseball game earlier in the day.
There's no other way to describe what happened at Dudy Noble Field than brutal.
The Bulldogs were left shaking their heads with the 18-0 beat down taken at the hands of the fourth-ranked Florida Gators. It had to be an ugly game for CSS television.
MSU failed to follow up Friday's 7-5 victory with another solid performance in the second game of the series.
What made the situation worse was when things got a little testy at the end between the Bulldogs and Gators. MSU's C.T. Bradford was hit by a pitch in the ninth inning and had some things to say to the Florida dugout as he went down to first base. The Bulldogs probably felt the action was in retaliation for earlier in the game when MSU pitcher Chad Girado hit Florida's Brian Johnson after a grand slam home run by Mike Zunino.
More than anything, Bradford's frustration may have spilled over in that moment after going hitless in his four previous at-bats. Also, he just happens to be from Pace, Fla.
As the saying goes, today is a new day. Bradford and the Bulldogs have to forget what happened on Saturday and take care of business today in trying to win the series.
It's an opportunity to make up for the poor outing and get in a better mood to close out Super Bulldog Weekend.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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