Bulldogs defense still struggling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Man, this football! Particularly college football. Someone had remarked Mississippi State would be tough on defense this year, but it sure didn’t look like it on Saturday.

Even at home in Starkville, the Bulldogs did everything but play. Naw, it wasn’t that bad for State, but it wasn’t pretty. The Bulldogs’ defense sure left a lot to be desired, allowing the Oregon Ducks 42 points in their 42-34 setback earlier in the year.

The Bulldogs did fight back after trailing 28-0, but they simply couldn’t close the gap. But State was playing at home, which was supposed to make a difference against a high-powered Oregon bunch. It was not meant to be.

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MSU even had things going its way almost through the third quarter. Nick Turner enabled State to keep the momentum going in that third stanza &045; he took the football from Kevin Fant and raced 44 yards to score in that third quarter. Made it look easy, but of course, it wasn’t.

Oh, well, you can’t win ’em all, as they say. After all, State played reasonably well even in defeat. It was just too bad it had to happen in Starkville with nearly 53,000 fans in attendance.

Early on it appeared that only the Ducks came to play in Starkville, home base of the Bulldogs. Oregon took a 28-0 lead before letting State up. Oregon, of course, scored another 14 points while State racked up 34 points on the scoreboard. But it was too little, too late.

But State shows more than a little promise all along on the football field, and things could go well for the Bullies yet. After all, the opposition gives you a clue, and Saturday’s clue is that Auburn might just be a really good opponent.

When Ole Miss sized up Florida 20-17 Oct. 4, Rebel fans all over started talkin’ Ole Miss resurgence, which may or may not be a little premature.

One Rebel fan remarked to me, &8220;OK, Louisiana-Monroe was a gimme, but Florida wasn’t.&8221; Arkansas State wasn’t pure-dee competition either, but we just might be watching a mite stronger Rebel team these days. Again, time will tell.

When newspapers hail the Rebels’ offense (third in the nation), you gotta at least stand up and look. In fact, the papers did hail the Rebel offense as being third-best in the nation &045; just a quick reminder.

&8220;Wait ’till Ole Miss plays Alabama,&8221; I heard one State fan say over coffee at McDonald’s. Of course, Alabama hasn’t been setting the woods on fire, having lost to even Northern Illinois. Then setbacks to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Georgia might make the Crimson Tide suspect in some quarters. Don’t pay any attention? Oops!

Vacation is staring the Glenvall Estes family in the face. That means after today’s offering I’ll be column-less until Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 27. And, yep, we do plan to go to Branson during that time. We will have fun.

Sports talk now has to do with Jackie Sherrill’s retirement from the head coaching job at State. Yep, that’s what they’re calling it, and I guess that’s what it is. Why muddy the waters? It’s over!

Glenvall Estes is a longtime columnist for The Natchez Democrat.