November 21, 2018 11:05:06 AM
The Mailbag delivered exactly what it's supposed to this week: rivalry questions, Thanksgiving questions and some fun stuff. Let's start with a rivalry question of the utmost importance.
- Welcome to the Mailbag, Nicole Boyett (@nicolebo). She's new to this rivalry. She's always admired it from afar, but now that she's in it, she needs some intel. She's asks: What do I need to know? I'll hang up and listen.
Nicole, have you ever walked into a room with a widely known yet unspoken miserable situation? Maybe one person in the room cheated on another person in the room with a person who also happens to be in that room? Maybe walked into a classroom where the teacher pulled a real (expletive) move on a quiz and everyone flunked it? Been to traffic court, where it's a bunch of people pissed off that they have to fight this stupid speeding ticket that they think is total garbage?
If you have, you walked into a room where the hatred was so strong, it was as if you could physically feel it. Like the hatred produced a fog that is literally sitting on your skin, maybe making you uncomfortably warm.
Welcome to the Egg Bowl. There is an atmosphere of hate, and to the best of my knowledge it's one of very few places on planet Earth where emotion becomes tangible.
I also love that this rivalry tends to produce more taunting than most -- and I mean taunting by people that matter, not the Facebook nonsense kind of taunting from fans. I mean like Dan Mullen refusing to say the words Ole Miss, like that Ole Miss DL waving at the Mississippi State sideline after recovering that fumble last year, like the whole Landshark troll and the peeing on the field like a dog celebration last year.
That's one of very few forms of petty that I love. And that leads me to this question:
- It comes from Michael Berry (@michaelberry_fl) -- How do you feel about the suddenly missing animosity between the two coaches? I, for one, miss it very much.
It's definitely fun, but I get plenty of hate from the players in this one.
There is always player-fueled hate in rivalry games, but this one seems particularly good at maintaining that because these schools tend to have more in-state players than most. The Iron Bowl will always have an intense hate, but as Alabama pulls the best recruits from all over the nation and Auburn hits Georgia so heavily, the number of players on both rosters that grew up in an Alabama-Auburn hatred environment goes down; you can say the same for Clemson-South Carolina and others, but the Egg Bowl hasn't been hit with much of that.
As long as the players throw dousing this fire with gasoline, I'm good.
- I'm looking forward to this one, y'all. @Wesley_Johnson doesn't have a question, he just wants to pass along a dad joke. He said a buddy of his was talking about things he did with his father, "back when dirt was mud." So Wesley wants to get some of my best dad jokes.
Look y'all, this is the part of fatherhood that I most look forward to.
I'm sure when I have children, they will ask me why I have facial hair. (I have a beard.) I will tell them I used to not like it, but it grew on me.
I look forward to fighting over the last few shrimp but telling them to not be so shellfish.
I want to tell them I dreamt I was a muffler last night, so I'm exhausted right now.
I'll tell them not to buy anything with Velcro, because it's a rip off.
And finally, when I come home and they ask if I got a haircut, I'll so no -- I got them all cut.
- We've got a couple of Thanksgiving questions, but this is a really good football question and I want to get to it quick. @Cowbell212 asks: In your film breakdowns, have you seen elements or plays that should give us hope for this offense in the future when comparing them to your film breakdowns after MSU hired Moorhead?
This topic has been on my mind recently as the prospect of next season can't help but creep into my mind every now and then.
When I watch these games back and look for the smaller details, I do so better execution across the board, for the most part. This offense is clearly better now than it was in late September, even if in some cases the difference is so slight it's not really impacting winning yet. I've definitely noticed that, and I've noticed some wrinkles that suggest the staff is getting deep into the playbook with this group, but here's what troubles me: so many these pieces are about to be gone.
The quarterback, the No. 2 running back, two starting offensive linemen, a starting tight end and an important wide receiver (Jesse Jackson) are all getting a bunch of reps in this system and they're all showing improvement; they're also not going to help the 2019 team. Of course the next men up are getting some reps -- particularly on the offensive line, where some of those guys are getting important game reps in a rotation -- but we all know there's a difference between reps against the scout team on a Tuesday and reps against Alabama in the third quarter.
To get more to the root of the question, I do believe the coaching staff is getting somewhere with the long-term installation of their scheme. The primary question for 2019 is how advanced the interior linemen and new quarterback can get in between now and September.
- Alright, let's hit some Thanksgiving questions. @CamBusk has two: 1) Dressing or stuffing? 2) Do you like sweet potato casserole with pecans or marshmallows?
1) To me, the dressing/stuffing thing is simple. If it's stuffed inside the turkey and cooked that way, it's stuffing. If it's not, it's dressing.
I've heard some people think it varies based on the ingredients, which I guess is possible, but to me that's more of a personal recipe thing than an actual differential between monikers. I've had dressing with sausage in it, I've had it with chicken, I've had it with a cornbread base, I've had it without cornbread entirely, I've had it dry and I've had it moist. There are so many variations that it's hard to lump them all into two categories simply based on ingredients: imagine if we had different names for a cheeseburger with just cheese and a cheeseburger with ketchup on it.
Also: I've never had stuffing, because my family always fries the turkey, thus can't cook the dressing in it.
2) The sweet potato casserole I was raised on was topped with brown sugar and pecans and I will fight to the death for that casserole. It is the superior option. Fight me.
- @dalemo830 -- Pizza for Thanksgiving: Yes or no?
...what the h-e-double hockeysticks is this?
In a traditional family meal kind of setting, where the aunts and uncles and cousins and all that come together for a family get together? Absolutely. Not. Even if you're all terrible cooks, Google some recipes and get some good Thanksgiving food on that table, come on guys.
There is only two settings in which pizza on Thanksgiving is acceptable. 1) If everything about the meal comes to a complete trash heap. (Spoiler alert on the most recent This Is Us episode: Like when Toby steps into the turkey and burns everything else, thus has to go to Popeye's and Cracker Barrel.) 2) If you're like me, alone on Thanksgiving until I go to Oxford for the Egg Bowl.
If you're doing the usual family thing, pizza is not allowed. End of discussion.
- There a couple of football questions I need to get to, but first, from James Roger Craig (@JRCraig6593) -- How would you describe your hatred for some schools?
Well my hatred for Mississippi State has been purchased by Ole Miss, as has been discussed on this Mailbag before. Yeah, you read that right: Ole Miss pays me to hate Mississippi State. How much, you might ask? Enough. Also, none of your business.
Or maybe this question is regarding my revelation on Twitter about the larger conspiracy against Mississippi State in the AP Poll. This year, the football ballot belongs to Jackson's favorite sportscaster Rachel Richlinski and the basketball ballot belongs to some other Jackson sportscaster named TJ Werre -- whoever that is, sounds like a loser but who knows -- and they both hate Mississippi State. I told y'all on Twitter we meet at Cane's to discuss our master plans on exacting that hate on MSU.
So how would I describe that hate we have for the schools we choose to hate? It's mostly based on convenience. We're too busy to work hard at our hate, so we have to channel it in the most convenient way possible. That's always going to be a local school and Ole Miss pays all of us to hate Mississippi State, so there you have it.
But really, my hatred goes to all schools in the year 2018 that hire Les Miles to be their football coach instead of me.
- Mikey (@mtgoff) -- Do you think the offense will make the trip to Oxford this weekend? And what do you think of Malcolm Jenkins flipping off his old coach during an embarrassing loss?
This topic came up when we recorded the most recent episode of Straight Sippin', which should be posting sometime Wednesday afternoon/evening. Co-host Courtney Robb brought up MSU's offensive struggles on the road; my counterpoint was that's a product of the defenses they faced rather than the environment, and fellow co-host Tom Eble took Courtney's side. We ultimately agreed that this will be the test of both theories, but allow me to establish mine a little more.
MSU has played the following teams on the road, listed in order of their defense's national ranking in yards per play allowed: Alabama (8), LSU (23), Kentucky (38), Kansas State (73). Here's what MSU did in yards per play against those teams: 3.38, 4.26, 3.35, 8.15.
See a trend there? MSU has yet to perform well on the road against a really good defense but absolutely thrashed a below average one. I'm rolling with that and assuming MSU will thrash a defense that ranks 111th nationally in yards per play allowed, but I am willing to be proven wrong. Lord knows Tom and Courtney would love it.
My favorite part of that is not that it happened, but the way Jenkins talked about it after the fact. Basically saying, "Yeah, I did it, this is why, it's all good but I enjoyed it." Perfection.
- That MSU offense v. Ole Miss defense talk leads straight to this from @LPchowdog -- Will Fitz have an efficient and productive game and beat Ole Miss? (He said something more colorful than that last part. It's not inappropriate, per se, but it may not be up to the standard for this journalistic website -- and that's saying something, given the Mailbag's history of nonsense.)
Have a seat, reader. Let me tell you something.
I think the best tool I have is the ability to dig into the nuance. Find things and numbers that people don't know or don't think about. It's not the easiest way to provide coverage, but I find it to be the most worthwhile.
I don't think there's more to this, folks. State should run the ball at will on Ole Miss, face the Rebels to commit numbers and give Fitzgerald and wide receivers enough 1-on-1 chances that they hit on a few. I expect Fitzgerald's last Egg Bowl to be a good one.
- I saved this multipart question for last because the final question is of the utmost importance. @10RobertWilliam -- 1) Should State fans be upset or appreciative that Texas decided to copy Don't Stop Believin'? 2) What's the number one thing you're looking for in the first quarter to give you a clue as to how the game will go Thursday? 3) Most importantly, will you keep doing Mailbags after this week?
1) I honestly don't think they should care. If anything they should play each other in a bowl game and see if the two fan bases can get literally every single person in the stadium to turn on their cell phone flashlights and scream the lyrics as loud as possible. That, I would be here for.
2) Well how lucky you ask, considering I just wrote about a topic that ties in perfectly. MSU is generally pretty good in the first and second quarter and Ole Miss has....not. If I see State moving the ball efficiently later in the first quarter, I'll know they have something figured out and that efficient offense may not change. There's more detail on that whole first half thing in a story I wrote recently, check me out on Twitter (@Brett_Hudson) two find it.
3) Last year, the Mailbag went through the bowl game, even if a little inconsistent between the Egg Bowl and the bowl game, and then receded into the background. Men's basketball interest was pretty down at the time, everyone was far too involved in the coaching search that resulted in Moorhead and then people got distracted by Andy Cannizaro.
Since basketball interest is high, so is baseball interest and MSU won't be looking for a new head football coach this year, I have every intent on keeping the Mailbag going. But y'all know this: it's on y'all. There's always a lot going on on a beat like this, where people are currently super interested in four sports, so there's plenty of fodder for sports questions and there's always room for nonsense.
But I can't answer questions if I don't get questions. The Mailbag wants to live on through January, February, March and maybe all the way to June.. Help it realize that dream.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson