Dawgs will be team to beat in SEC

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2001

Mississippi State fans are already &uot;kickin’&uot; it around, and 2001 college football is a month and a half away. It’s all still just talk, of course, but you gotta admit that coach Jackie Sherrill’s Bulldogs rate right up there as likely the real thing. Start with established quarterback Wayne Madkin returning in a backfield featuring dandy tailbacks Dicenzo Miller and Dontae Walker, plus a slew of others already tried and proven. Thirteen starters are back from last year’s 8-4 (4-4, Southeastern Conference) team that pleased its faithful by capping the season with a thrilling 43-41 Independence Bowl victory over Texas A&M.

Defense counts; if you don’t believe it, stand still while popular defensive coach Joe Lee Dunn goes over a few glorious moments entered last year in the record books by Pig Prather, who glittered in the Bulldog secondary even while better-known Fred Smoot was drawing more accolades. Dunn says Prather’s got it. Meaning, he’s got it.

Actually, Sherrill, who has called a spade a spade most of the time the 10 years he’s held sway as top man at State, is 78-60-2 at MSU and 172-93-4 the 23 years he’s been in the game as the boss. Again, he has 13 starters back, eight for him and five for Dunn to whip into shape.

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They’re saying coach Sherrill’s tall suit will be offense, though. Fact of the matter, &uot;Lindy’s Southeastern Football Magazine&uot; quotes Lindy as saying &uot;the Bulldogs are perhaps as talented and deep on offense as they’ve been under Sherrill,&uot; while giving defensive boss Dunn his just due as well.

Everyone always likes to know the &uot;real&uot; scoop on the quarterback. Well, as a junior, all Madkin did was set MSU career passing records, completing 56 percent of them. Eight were touchdowns and eight were intercepted, and at 6-4, 220 pounds the man about campus was – and is – man enough to keep defenders from doing much about his field plans.

Thought I’d just warn you that potentially Mississippi State’s touted to be anything but dead in the water this fall. I could give you even more proof, but for now just believe until someone proves me wrong on the field.

All this having been said, however, I won’t ever again forget that the SEC is almost never a one-team leaguethat it usually takes a season to get a line on the big dogs for sure.

HURRIED HASHThis reminder, that in Chris Shivers, the town of Jonesville has a genuine rodeo hero. Even Chris’ dad Glen wouldn’t say that about his sensational bullriding son, but I sure can. And almost daily I’m sure area Shivers fans like Vic Crawford, Hoss Davis, Bud Ross and others have their say

Chris has earned over a hundred grand already this season, and, I’m sure, received his new Ford from Ford Motors. Professional Bullriding pays well on the circuit if you can (literally) hang tough, but it ain’t for the timid. Young Chris is handsome, lithe, strong and evidently a natural.

Chris’ last stop on the PBR Circuit saw him win the competition. It happened in Billings, Montana. Ellis Crooks, a big PBR fan from Vidalia, once saw a girl waving a placard on TV that said: &uot;Chris gives me the shivers!&uot;

Glenvall Estes is a longtime sports columnist for The Democrat.