Mississippi State kicker Massimo Biscardi is rounding into form, making 4 of 5 field goals over the past two games including a tying kick Nov. 5 at Auburn.
Special teams coach Eric Mele said Wednesday that Biscardi’s efforts in practice are finally paying off.
“Just being consistent in practice and carrying over, I think that’s the biggest thing,” Mele said.
But while MSU’s kicking unit improves, its punting unit has struggled considerably of late.
George Georgopoulos punted five times against Georgia for just 182 yards — 36.4 yards apiece. That would be second to last in FBS, and Mississippi State ranks 101st of 131 teams this season.
Georgopoulos and Archer Trafford, MSU’s two punters, averaged just 32 yards per punt against Auburn. Georgopoulos even had a 4-yard punt Oct. 15 at Kentucky.
“They’ve got to clear (their) mind, focus and just do their job,” Mele said. “They’ve done it for the first half of the season pretty well.”
Mele said MSU’s punters must depend on the Bulldogs’ gunners rather than put everything on their own shoulders.
“It doesn’t have to be a perfect punt,” he said. “We’ve got some great cover guys in that unit, and they know they just have to put the ball in play and let us go make a play down there.”
The first-year MSU special teams coordinator said he expects Georgopoulos and Trafford to bounce back Saturday against East Tennessee State.
If so, there’s still time for a turnaround like the one Biscardi has made.
Crumedy’s return bolstering MSU defense
Defensive tackle Jaden Crumedy made a tackle on his first snap of the 2022 season, which came against Auburn.
Since missing eight games with an upper-body injury, Crumedy has made a significant impact for the Bulldogs.
“I just think since his return, there’s been an increased physicality in our front play,” defensive coordinator Zach Arnett said.
Crumedy was part of a stingy Mississippi State defense that cracked down in the red zone against Auburn then did a decent job — apart from perhaps one 70-yard touchdown run — against Georgia.
Crumedy already has seven total tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack.
“Anytime you’ve got a two-year starter who goes out and then you get him back, you’re going to see an improvement,” Arnett said. “We’re fired up to have him back. We’ll certainly need him.”
Alongside Crumedy on the defensive line is nose tackle Cameron Young, who on Nov. 8 accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Arnett said he wouldn’t be shocked to see Young’s NFL draft stock soaring after the Feb. 4 event.
“Big guys inside who can hold the point of attack and two-gap and play both gaps at the same time are pretty rare and they’re very valuable,” Arnett said. “I’m fired up that he’s getting the recognition he deserves, and I know he’ll go out there in Mobile and put on a performance and open a lot of eyes.”
Leach names his price on officiating comments
Mike Leach was asked during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference to evaluate the officiating in Mississippi State’s games thus far this season.
Leach was well aware of what an honest answer might entail.
“That’s obviously a ridiculous question and you know it, unless I plan to spend some money, but I’ll tell you what: You go ahead and mail me a check,” he responded. “I think $30,000 will cover it, although I would want to check the market first. You go ahead and mail me the check, and I’ll give you one heck of an answer.”
Leach has made jabs at officiating throughout the season, including after several questionable calls Saturday against Georgia.
For instance, he said that while UGA’s defense made it tough sledding for MSU’s offense, “others make it difficult, too.”
But Leach has repeatedly avoided giving his direct thoughts on refereeing so as to avoid a fine from the Southeastern Conference.
He said earlier this season he had yet to decide if voicing his criticism would be worth the cost. Apparently, it isn’t.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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