By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf may not need extra film work study because he can do it in his sleep.
According to the senior signal caller, listening to him sleep apparently sounds like when he’s in the huddle.
“I can remember one time I woke up out of dream and my girlfriend was there asking me what I was talking about,” Relf said. “I didn’t realize that I was dreaming about being in the film room and answering a question from (MSU offensive coordinator Les) Koenning in my sleep.”
The dream was a passing play and suddenly Relf’s girlfriend of 18 months, Jamye, understood the basics of a three-step drop.
“She told me I yelled out in my sleep ‘three step drop and keep the ball high,’” Relf said. “She tells me I’m always talking in my sleep. It’s always about football.”
Asked if he’s ever had a quarterback talk football film study in his sleep, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen joked it was a step forward “since he was answering now.”
“When he first got to us, Chris was such a different person – so introverted (and) quiet,” Mullen said. “He’s grown as a man and matured because he’s just so confident with himself.”
While Relf was awake Wednesday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., for the 2011 Southeastern Conference football media day, he realized the tone of the conversation was definitely different from last year when he was introduced as the starting quarterback of the Bulldogs program.
This season he was not being asked about a quarterback controversy or competition but about being a central offensive figure to hopefully lead MSU to back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in school history.
“I was here last year and I was really nervous,” Relf said. “I may get the same attention as last year but if I do get more attention, it’s not something I can’t handle. I’m ready to talk.”
Before the 2011 season kicks off, Relf will also be the only returning starting quarterback in the Western Division this season. A fact that is certainly not lost on his head coach.
“That’s what it is – his understanding and preparation between games has improved dramatically over the years,” Mullen said. “That self-motivation and self-drive comes out in the teams that win championships.”
Relf is coming off a season where he had three straight games of over 200 yards passing (224 vs. Arkansas, 288 at Ole Miss and 281 vs. Michigan) and currently has the best passing efficiency (136.87) in Mississippi State history. All of those totals were single-game highs
for the Montgomery, Ala., native.
In order to continue the momentum of that season finale performance when the Bulldogs defeated the Wolverines in the Gator Bowl for State’s first New Year’s Day bowl victory since 1941 , Relf said he’s organized preseason pitch-and-catch workouts on the MSU practice field this summer where the 245-pound quarterback says he throws “at least 100 passes” every other day.
“I think I’m going to be a whole lot better than I was last year,” Relf said. “I know the offense real well and I’m going to lead this team like I know I can so maybe the rest of the guys will follow.”
Relf said Wednesday what he thinks about, consciously and unconsciously, are the close home losses to the league’s Bowl Championship Series qualifiers.
“The main two games that I replay in my mind are Auburn and Arkansas,” Relf said. “I think about all the time what I could’ve done. I think about making sure that doesn’t happen.”