#ABC Mailbag 7-09: Breakout players, blocking line cutters, 2014 expectations and more

Each week on The B&B Show (a radio show I co-host on Bulldog Sports Radio; you can listen to today’s full show here) we have a segment we call ABC, which you’ve seen me mention if you follow on Twitter.

It stands for Ask Bob Carskadon and is, basically, a radio mailbag of some serious and many non-serious questions sometimes but not always relating to Mississippi State sports.

Every Tuesday, we ask for questions on Twitter (tweet them to @bobcarskadon) and answer every single one on the show. Every Wednesday, I’ll pick some good ones to answer here on the HailState Beat. (PSA on those tweets: if a twitter profile is locked, people who don’t follow it can’t see its tweets, even if they are mentioned in the tweet.)

Keep in mind, as always, opinions and views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of MSU, though sometimes they very well may.

To draw some semblance of a line, the topics are conveniently divided into sports and non-sports.

Sports Questions:

John Humphreys @humphreys_john: Most important player that didn’t play last year, and most improved player that did play last year?

mjlybkyixmxvuzh-20131013023523Bob: I like this question, and I’m assuming you mean football. Maybe this is cheating, but I’ve got two names for each.

Guys who didn’t play last year and are extremely important in 2014: offensive lineman Justin Malone and safety Jay Hughes. Both missed the entirety of 2013 due to injury and both are among the best at their positions.

With the losses of Gabe Jackson and Charles Siddoway off the line, the talented and athletic Malone returning from injury healthy and effective would be huge. The same goes for Hughes at safety, where he is one of the unquestioned leaders not just of the defense but of the entire team. It’s a cliché, but very accurate in this case when people say having Hughes out there is like having another coach on the field. Fitting that his dad actually is the safeties coach.

Most improved players who did play last year: sophomore offensive guard Jamaal Clayborn and senior safety Justin Cox. Clayborn was one of the surprise freshmen last year, performing so well in practice that he earned some playing time in games. Now, he’s got the unenviable job of replacing the All-American Jackson. Big shoes to fill, certainly, but Clayborn is more than capable and those around the team have confidence in his ability.

As for Cox, he’s one of the best pure athletes on the team – fast, strong, long, great jumper, hard hitter – but he seemed uncomfortable at cornerback in 2013 after transferring from JUCO, often struggling in coverage. But, in bowl practices and in the Liberty Bowl itself, coaches switched Cox to safety and the fit was perfect. He’s a natural at the position and could end up being a breakout star in the secondary.

Blake Thompson @StateDOG: How would the MSU football program be different now if Dixon gets in or the jump pass works against LSU in 2009?

Bob: I see where you’re going with this, but I’m not sure things change that drastically. Two streaks would change: MSU would’ve been to five-straight bowls instead of four, and the LSU losing streak would’ve been cut short. But would it have changed any other State games that season? Probably not. Would it have added some momentum going into the 2010 season? Yes, but the Egg Bowl did that anyway and MSU went 9-4 in 2010, the best season of Mullen’s tenure to date.

Now, if I were going to pick one play like that, I might ask how different things would be if Chris Relf had gotten into the endzone against Auburn in 2011.

Dan Halen @Stoli_Dan: If you could add ANY single last minute feature to the new stadium before it opens, what would it be?

Bob: Off the top of my head – phone charging stations, maybe? I also wouldn’t be opposed to having The Veranda cater all the press box meals for the season, either.

That Guy @thatguy1878: Players, coaches or fans – whose expectations will be the most difficult to manage this season?

dan-mullen-msu-shanna-lockwoodBob: I’ll preface by saying this: the expectations within the program – coaches, players, staff, etc. – are the highest they been in over a decade. Dan Mullen and his staff believe this to be the best team they’ve had. The players feel the same. They legitimately expect to win the SEC West, and while they say that every year, it seems they really believe it, too.

Now, as for managing expectations, I’m not sure. Expectations on the inside might be greater than those on the outside, but fans are always going to be more vocal about any disappointments than coaches and players. That’s just the nature of things.

One thing which helps on the inside: the loss of leadership last year after guys like Chad Bumphis, Johnthan Banks, Charles Mitchell and the crew graduated contributed to some of the early-season frustrations. By the end of the year, new leaders had emerged and the team jelled. In 2014, MSU starts the season with a veteran core of leaders already in place and will be plenty prepared for setbacks, should they come.

 

Non-Sports Questions:

Blake Thompson @StateDOG: Would you rather share a meal at Restaurant Tyler with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Johnson or Jimmy Buffett?

Bob: Your choice of restaurant is excellent, though my choice of Jimmy is a bit more difficult. Johnson would have some stories to tell from his years in college and the NFL and as a broadcaster, Kimmel would keep me laughing through the entire serving of crawfish dip, but then shouldn’t I show some favoritism for the Mississippi-made Buffett?

But if I’m a particular fan of any of these Jimmys, it’s Fallon. Make the easy joke about him laughing and looking at the camera mid-sketch on SNL, but he’s one of the most natural and versatile entertainers the world has. He easily makes his guests and interviewees feel comfortable, he can sing, he’s funny and also he’s a millionaire, so I assume he’s picking up the check.

That Guy @thatguy1878: What time frame of history interests you the most?

Bob: Probably the periods we know so little about. I’m incredibly interested in some of the ancient cultures and societies who were so far advanced that it took the rest of the world thousands of years to come up with the same innovations they did millennia before. The Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Mayans, Han China, ancient Greece – all intriguing civilizations we have varied levels of knowledge about. I love history, but there’s so much to know and learn it would be difficult to track it all in one lifetime.

Rob Hataway @vhdawg: Who is your favorite Disney princess?

Bob: I’m more of a Lion King, Robin Hood, Jungle Book kinda guy, so my princess knowledge is limited to what I learned while working at Disney World in college (a program I recommend to any current or future students). My gut says Ariel from Little Mermaid, but the more I think about it, I have to go with Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She loves to read, cares about her family and doesn’t judge people she meets based on outside appearances. My kind of girl.

Corey Pilkenton @cpilkenton: What movie character death do you have a hard time watching? Kind of lame but mine is Apollo Creed.

Sad-DobbyBob: The hardest one for me to watch is Dobby the house elf. Partially because I’m invested in the character, but much more because of what he represents. I think we all tend to believe our pets are smarter than they actually are, that they understand us, care about us and protect us. Above all, they’re loyal to us. Did I use to talk to my dog when it was just me and her? Yes, and so did you.

Dobby is to Harry what our dogs become to us – someone who loves us unquestionably and is loyal even to a fault. So, when Dobby dies, The Feels hit me real hard.

Nancy McCarley @nancymccarley: Discuss your tried and true strategies for blocking potential line cutters at major amusement parks.

Bob: I just got back from vacation (good to see you, ma!) and the anger at people trying to cut in line for a ride is fresh in my mind. If you’re traveling with a group, you can cut off people trying to get ahead under the guise of allowing the rest of your group to move forward.

But the key at preventing the most determined of queue cutters is to get in the mindset of a cornerback. If you know they’re going to take any opening they get, give them the one you want them to have. Give them what they think is the inside lane around a corner, then swing around the turn and lock your hip into the railing, blocking them into a corner they walked into on their own. Pretend like you’re a kid playing around in line and stretch your arms across to both railings and lift yourself into the air with each step. When you do this, make sure to swing your legs backward, forcing the line breakers to step back so as to avoid getting a size 11 to the shin.

If you’re feeling more aggressive, you can always just turn around and stare at them knowingly. Have a magical day.

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One Response to #ABC Mailbag 7-09: Breakout players, blocking line cutters, 2014 expectations and more

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