We exchanged questions and answers with SB Nation Mississippi State writers For Whom The Cowbell Tolls. We did not ask if Anthony Dixon puts his pants on, just like the rest of us, one leg at at time. Except once his pants are on, he makes gold records.
1. Mississippi State finished 2008 as 113 in total offense. They are now 53rd. How much is this due to Dan Mullen and how much due to just using the talent that was there?
I think it is a combination of the two. Croom had a complicated offensive scheme and was unwilling to adapt his playbook to the talent level on the team. Mullen is just the opposite. He knows that we have average talent, and has adapted his spread offense to put us in the best position to win ballgames. A big key to that adaptation is making Anthony Dixon the feature of the offense. Also, now that we are spreading the field a little more, the pressure on the offensive line is less than it was last year, giving them the opportunity to open up running lanes that didn't exist last year because the defense could just stack the box on us. We also have some freshmen and JUCO transfers that have been able to step in and contribute right away. Players like Leon Berry and true freshman Chad Bumphis. We also have a pretty good stable of running backs in addition to Dixon: Christian Ducree, Robert Elliot and Arnil Stalworth.
2. Anthony Dixon is on pace to be a 1000 yard rusher. Can he be stopped?
Dixon has been a man on a mission since missing the season opener against Jackson State. He has already set the new career rushing record, surpassing Jerious Norwood this past weekend against Middle Tennessee. The big difference this year is his size. He has slimmed down about 20 pounds from his playing weight last year, so he is more agile but still able to deliver those explosive hits at 235 pounds.
3. How much trust does Miss State have in Tyson Lee to pitch it around if the Bulldogs fall behind?
At this point in the season, we HAVE to trust Tyson Lee. He has had several bad games where he turned the ball over too many times and made some bad option reads (the LSU goal line play comes to mind), but he is our most experienced QB and has adapted well to Mullen's new offense. He is definitely more accurate on his throws than Chris Relf (the other QB that has seen playing time this year), but his arm is not as strong.
4. Miss State is in the bottom third of the SEC in defense. What schemes do they rely on and who is the standout that could cause problems for UF?
The defense seems to be playing in a 3-4 scheme this year. Occasionally they will go with 4 down linemen, but seem to stick with the 3-4. Our big playmakers on defense are Pernell McPhee, Kyle Love and Jamar Chaney. McPhee is just a monster at 6-7 270 pounds. He is a JUCO transfer from ICC and was one of the first to players that Dan Mullen visited when he started at State. So far this season, he has 19 solo tackles and 2 solo sacks, as well as 1 assist sack and 10 assist tackles.
5. What is it about Starkville that would make it such a terrible place for Florida? Is the water bad? Are cowbells really that annoying? Are there no good supermarkets or dry cleaners nearby? (It's not just football. Corey Brewer, Al Horford and Joakim Noah hated the place, too.)
Reading that article you linked to, I can say that the Hump can get pretty loud. It is a smaller arena and the fans are much closer to the court. As for football, the Gators have not has much success there at all. I think they have only won 3 of the 10 games they have played there. Steve Spurrier never won there, and you will probably recall the favor we did for you a few years back with Ron Zook. We all hope that Meyer has just as much success this Saturday.