Where’s the defense for State, UM?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

LSU hopped all over Mississippi State like I ain’t believin’ Saturday in Starkville. Evidently the huge loss surprised many Maroon fans, not to mention the players themselves.

You gotta remember, though, that LSU was No. 7 in the country and State lost even more prestige, leaving the field 0-4. Even less imposing is the fact that the Maroons have lost 23 of the last 30 games and nine straight SEC contests.

I’m sure old salt Jackie Sherrill is groping all over trying to determine just what this demise is all about. The bad part of it is that all this is a continuation of things bad. Not terrible, now, but bad. The Bulldogs couldn’t even continue a good scoring average.

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Too many mistakes. Not knocking State mentally, necessarily, but it all goes back to last season, as followers and non-followers now. Not since 1988 has Sherrill’s Bulldogs fashioned a 10-game slide. Ain’t natural.

Checking the national stats, State ranks 117th in pass defense among the 117 Division I-A schools competing. Hey, State’s also 116th in total defense and 109th in scoring defense. You can’t get it done like that.

Bulldog faithful left in droves Saturday as the Bullies continued to fall apart. I think it was sad that someone (or many) flashed a sign that suggested using ESPN letters to say, &8220;Eliminate Sherrill’s Paycheck Now.&8221;

I kinda hated to see fans go that far. Head coaching can be a thankless job. Of course, Coach Sherrill has to see the handwriting on the wall as far as this season goes. No wins, losers of five straight at home and 23-of-30 overall, fans can see the task the Bulldogs have ahead of them.

But it’s funny &045; don’t count out anybody until they’re out!

And come Sunday, Ole Miss didn’t fare that well, either. Eli Manning, of course, didn’t either, and the Rebels fell to Texas Tech, 49-45, in a big-yardage battle. In fact, Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons passed for six touchdowns and 661 yards on 44 of 64 attempts as he out-dueled Manning.

Opponents don’t drop dead when you say, &8220;Manning.&8221;

Flipping to the Ole Miss-Texas Tech game, any time a guy named Symons dresses out and passes for 661 yards like B.J. Symons did Saturday against the Rebels, you can figure there’s a problem. That’s for sure!

Symons, of course, was the biggest problem for Ole Miss Saturday in Oxford. That cat passed like he was at home instead of on the road. Again, Symons passed for six touchdowns and 661 yards.

Ole Miss fell to 2-2 on the season, and the only good news this week is little-known Arkansas State will be in Oxford Oct. 11 as the opposition. Ole Miss is now 2-3 on the year with stout Florida waiting for the Rebels.

Then look who the Rebels play after Arkansas State &045; Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, LSU and Mississippi State. Scary.

But college football is like that. You play who you have to with what you have to play with and what you have to attack with. Most college football games are challenges, and that’s the way it should be.

Glenvall Estes is a longtime columnist for The Natchez Democrat.