The Notebook: 11-11

So, How Was Your Day?

Happy Monday and Veterans Day, everyone.

Typically, I’d hold The Notebook until later in the evening, but for reasons shared below, morning worked a bit better today.

SGCJBAYSVZEKLKB.20130615233817Football is the big storyline, but I wanted to start with baseball, as that is what will be big the next week or so, starting today.

The Bulldog World Series starts on Wednesday, but the draft and draft party are today for John Cohen’s club. The seniors (and fourth-year juniors) are team captains and will select their teams this afternoon, followed by the draft party later this evening when selections are revealed to the team in a fun style.

I’ll be there for both and plan on sharing some of the activities. Oh, and the draft party is costumed event. I’m planning to go as Richard Simmons.

Staying on the diamond, MSU had three more scrimmages over the weekend, with a few highlights.

Junior pitcher Brandon Woodruff made his second appearance, throwing four scoreless innings on Saturday, bringing his total to 5 2/3 innings this fall with nary a run allowed. He’s topped out around 96 and can be the ace for MSU in 2014 if he continues progress well.

Fellow junior pitcher Trevor Fitts has picked up where he left off in the postseason, pitching five shutout innings on Sunday with four strikeouts in a duel with freshman pitcher Dakota Hudson, who had seven strikeouts of his own in four innings, never giving up a run.

Of course, with all those pitching notes, there were 34 runs scored over the weekend with the scrimmages finishing 8-6 Sunday, 8-0 Saturday and 7-5 Friday.

Call it balance or parity, or maybe just chance.

In football news, we finally learned the kickoff time for MSU’s game against Alabama this weekend in Davis Wade Stadium, 6:45 on ESPN. Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe will be ESPN’s talent for the game.

On that note, MSU at Arkansas will kick off at 11:21 on SEC Network on November 23.

I wasn’t in College Station over the weekend, so I watched the game on TV, which was fun, though not quite so satisfying as being in person.

As such, I don’t have much to offer in the way of team mood or stories from the sideline or locker room.

I did, however, want to offer some observations I think most of us made watching the game. Specifically, Dan Mullen has a ton of young and promising talent on this team.

True freshman De’Runnya Wilson might be the downfield, X-factor receiver MSU has been searching for since Justin Jenkins graduated in the early 2000’s. At 6’6”, Wilson has the frame, hands and speed to both go deep and make tough catches in traffic. He’s obviously still learning, but he’s already shown an aptitude and willingness to block, and his receiving skills seem clear.

EUKDXIJMWECMDCP.20131006013553He’ll be even better after more time in the strength program and playbook, but as it stands now, he’s the top receiver in MSU’s last three games combined, with 10 receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns. The majority of that, of course, came against Texas A&M, where he had seven catches for 75 yards and two scores.

In addition to him, redshirt freshman receiver Fred Brown made some big plays and true freshman receiver Fred Ross has been impressive when given opportunities this year, good enough to play immediately, despite some injury issues.

Add in redshirt freshman Brandon Holloway, who torched A&M’s secondary for what  likely would have been a touchdown had he and Dak Prescott connected, and MSU’s young receivers are pretty stacked.

All of that said, Jameon Lewis, Robert Johnson, Malcolm Johnson, Joe Morrow (a sophomore who caught two passes for 38 yards and a touchdown Saturday) and Jeremey Chappelle will all be back next year.

Then, of course, there’s Prescott himself, responsible for 934 yards and seven touchdowns in his last three games, and he’s only a sophomore.

MSU’s leading rusher among running backs Saturday was Josh Robinson, a sophomore, who averaged just over 12 yards per carry, rushing six times for 73 yards a touchdown, in addition to three catches for 35 yards.

Defensively, redshirt freshman linebackers Beniquez Brown and Richie Brown has four tackles each against the Aggies, while Beniquez got the first start of his career in place of the injured Deonate Skinner. Then true freshman defensive lineman Chris Jones might have been the most talented defensive lineman in the game, constantly getting to the backfield and managing to chase down Johnny Manziel at least once when he got past the line of scrimmage.

The quartet of defensive end Ryan Brown, safety Kendrick Market, corner Taveze Calhoun and linebacker Benardrick McKinney are all sophomores and all starters.

The biggest takeaway from a loss is just that – it was a loss. But outside of the scoreboard, the most obvious story, to me at least, was the young talent on this team.

The next item for the day is Dan Mullen’s weekly press conference at 1 p.m. as MSU prepares for Alabama. We’ll have live updates here on the blog, so check back this afternoon.

Oh, and I should mention that Dawg Talk with Dan Mullen has been moved to Monday nights for the rest of the season, begin tonight at 7 at Buffalo Wild Wings in Starkville. Stop by.

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