Bowl Season

Big Ten vs. SEC Jacksonville, Fla.
Municipal Stadium
Jan. 1
1:30 p.m.
Chris G. Mosley (Dawgfan), of, was nice enough to answer some questions about Mississippi State.

BS: The Bulldogs are 8-4 within only 2 years of Dan Mullen becoming head coach. How good a job has he done in such a short time? 

Chris G. Mosley: It's hard to put into words how big a deal it is that the Bulldogs managed to get Dan Mullen to become their head coach.  He's done a masterful job in two years.  I think it's fair to say that he has done more with less than any other head coach out there.  He is very good at evaluating what he has (in players) and getting everything he can out of it.  I think the biggest thing he's done is inject confidence in the players and the fan base.  This season saw every home game sold out for the Bulldogs, something that hasn't happened in quite some time.  For several years losing had become a complacent thing at Starkville, but Mullen managed to make the players and the fans believe that they are winners again.  It's nice to see the Bulldog nation rewarded this year with a Gator Bowl berth

BS: How big is getting to a New Year's Day bowl after having only 1 winning season in the last 9?

Chris G. Mosley: It's a nice reward that is deserved by both the players and the fans.  Obviously, the recognition is nice and the opportunity to play an elite team like Michigan is very appreciated.  However, I think the best thing about the bowl berth is all of the extra practice time it allows.  I've already heard rumblings about Mississippi State being the dark horse to win the SEC West next year.  Every second of practice for our young team is necessary for MSU to become a serious contender.  Having said that, a post season game isn't something MSU has seen very much of this past decade.  The Bulldogs were fortunate to win the Liberty Bowl a few years ago, and seeing how our bowl appearances have been all but non-existent these past ten years, a win in the Gator Bowl would be a sweet way to close out what has been a mostly miserable decade. 

BS: The offense is great rushing the ball. Talk about how dynamic dual threat QB Chris Relf is and his RB Vick Ballard. Also, who are some key receivers? 

Chris G. Mosley: I think the turning point for Chris Relf was in last years Egg Bowl.  The Bulldogs, led by quarterback Tyson Lee, trailed Ole Miss entering halftime.  Chris Relf took over as quarterback to start the third quarter and led the Bulldogs to a convincing victory over the Rebels.  He gained instant respect from every Bulldog fan who witnessed his performance that day.  Of course, he's mostly known for what he can do on his legs, but he's made huge strides with his arm as well.  He doesn't throw a lot of bombs deep down the field, but lately he's been carving up defenses with a mixture of option plays, runs, and short passes.  Interestingly enough, one of his top receivers during this years Egg Bowl was Vick Ballard.  However, it's no secret to anyone that Ballard is a monster on his feet.  He filled a huge void left when running back Anthony Dixon graduated last year and I've heard many experts question why he wasn't recruited more by other schools.  Look for him to do a ton of damage on the ground in the Gator Bowl.  Unfortunately, the Bulldogs lost their top receiver, Chad Bumphis, due to an injury suffered in the Egg Bowl.  The receivers to watch now are Arceto Clark, Brandon Heavens, and Chris Smith.  I see a lot of talent just waiting to bust loose in Brandon Heavens.  Chris Smith has really turned it up in the last few games too, he's someone to keep an eye on. 

BS: The defense is giving up only 20 points a game. What is the key to slowing down Michigan's potent offense and who are some players to watch? 

Chris G. Mosley: The big name to look out for:  Chris WhiteLinebacker Chris White recently won the Conerly Award which is the top award for a college football player in Mississippi.  White, along with Pernell McPhee and K.J. Wright, will make life difficult for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.  Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will have the Bulldogs in Robinson's face almost every snap.  They'll force him to get rid of the ball quickly and they will capitalize on the mistakes.  Watch for DB Corey Broomfield to get an interception.  Mississippi State's defense has been the one thing that's been consistent over the past decade.  The Bulldog defense is always stout and this years group has been one of the strongest yet.  The Bulldog defense is a fine match up for the high powered offense of Michigan's. 

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be? 

Chris G. Mosley:The player with the most potential to have a breakout performance would have to be Chris Smith.  With MSU's leading receiver, Chad Bumphis, out due to injury, Chris Relf will be looking for someone new to step up and fill that void.  My gut tells me that guy is going to be Chris Smith.  He's been getting better and better in recent weeks.  This is his opportunity to shine.

Thanks so much to Chris G. Mosley. Check him out at

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