It’s no secret Mississippi State left tackle Derek Sherrod is the leader of the Bulldogs offensive line.
After a victory that included no sacks and one quarterback pressure, it became evident Saturday the senior from Columbus needed to be honored by the conference as the day’s best lineman.
Sherrod was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week which everybody Monday admitted was a representative of all five players in front of the MSU backfield playing one of its best games of the 2010 season.
“I think what you saw is the seniors step up and perform at the level they needed to perform at as a group,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said.
The MSU second-year head coach said Monday that after two disappointing outings against Auburn and LSU, he and Bulldogs offensive line coach John Hevesy challenged his offensive lineman to dominate a three-man defensive front and was pleased at the result.
“I was expecting them to play well and the week before,” Mullen said. “You get a somewhat different result when you challenge players that have done it before than you do from youngsters. I think what you saw is the seniors step up and perform at the level they needed to perform at as a group.”
The offensive front for Mississippi State, which was the perceived strength heading into the 2010 season, hasn’t statistically been giving up many sacks but have allowed quarterback pressure to both junior Chris Relf and redshirt freshman Tyler Russell which has led to an instant turnover problem.
“We haven't been great and we should be with the experience we have along with having the best offensive line coach in the country,” junior backup center D.J. Looney said. “The big thing for us is communication. You've got to communicate with the offensive line. You've got to be loud and always talking in the offensive line and I think we've communicated better this past week than we've done any other week."
During MSU’s 24-12 victory over Georgia Saturday night, Relf finished officially 9-of-14 for 148 yards and two touchdowns in the passing game along with109 yards on the ground on 20 carries. The final total of 257 yards from scrimmage made Relf the first MSU player to rush and pass for 100-plus yds in the same game since Wayne Madkin in 2000.
“I don’t think we ever hit the panic button with our offensive line,” Mullen said. “It was more a little kick in the rear end to play to the level that we expect them to play.”
Fletcher Cox doubtful for Saturday
Mullen told reporters Monday that senior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against Alcorn State.
Cox suffered a severe ankle sprain at the end of the victory against Georgia and was last seen Saturday night walking to the locker room with a member of the MSU training staff after being the recipient of a vicious chop block by a Georgia offensive lineman that ended his evening short.
Mullen said Sunday the defensive tackle’s status will be monitored throughout this week’s practices but that was before he has yet to see the senior at the MSU facility for medical treatment.
The injured Cox and the announcement of redshirt freshman defensive end Johnathan McKenzie leaving the Bulldogs football team to concentrate on academics doesn’t give MSU much depth on the defensive front four. “(The rotation is) really standard as usual,” MSU defensive line coach Chris Wilson said. “We’ll get some guys in, give some young guys some opportunities to come in and compete, guys like (defensive ends) Kaleb (Eulls) and Corvell Harrison-Gay, Trevor Stigers.”
Mullen also said Monday both of his injured tight ends (junior Marcus Green and senior Brandon Henderson) were different in terms of potential recovery time despite both being knee problems.
“Marcus' injury is a little bit more severe than Brandon,” MSU’s head coach said. “We expect Brandon to play this weekend. Marcus is still going to be day-to-day. He ran in practice yesterday and had some swelling today so we just got to see how he feels tomorrow.”
State did not get a reception from a tight end in the 24-12 victory over Georgia but Kendrick Cook saw a lot of action during MSU’s 44 running attempts throughout Saturday evening.
Georgia player kicked off team after loss to MSU
The news didn’t get any better for Georgia fans a day after their team lost a third straight conference game against Mississippi State.
Georgia freshman Demetre Baker was dismissed from the team by coach Mark Richt on Sunday following an arrest on drunken-driving charges. Baker was arrested early Sunday in Athens, Ga., and charged with DUI, underage possession of alcohol and improper driving. He is the 10th Georgia player to be arrested this year.
Baker, 19, was a linebacker who has not played this season and did not travel with the team to Saturday's 24-12 loss in Starkville.
"The bottom line is we are 0-3 in the league and we've never been there," Richt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday. "We have had enough issues off the field that it has been a big distraction and sad for our young men and for our program and our university and our fans and everybody else.
Georgia (1-3 overall, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) has lost three games in a row for the first time since 1990. It is 0-3 in the SEC for the first time since 1993.
Richt told reporters Baker "was fully aware of the possible consequences that could result from this type of poor judgment" and is "now paying a severe penalty."