Despite all the drama of the past 48 hours, Arkansas still has two more football games to play. This weekend is against Mississippi State, who is having a damn fine year this season and they’re coming off a near upset of Alabama. We talked to Evan Ertel at For Whom the Cowbell Tolls about his team. As always, thanks to him and check out their fine work as well!
1. With the success Dan Mullen is having at Mississippi State, how much concern is there that this year will be his last in Starkville?
Evan: Absolutely none. Zero. Nada. If you genuinely think he's gone after this season, you a) don't actually know the program, and b) you're probably trolling.
2. We know about Nick Fitzgerald, but who are some of his favorite targets around him?
Evan: Aeris Williams is the secret heart of this offense. Dan Mullen has said it before and I still firmly believe that the offense runs thought him because he is so versatile. There was an outstanding sequence of 3 consecutive plays against UMAss where Mullen dialed up the same RPO formation and it went to a different player every time. The only reason this worked so well is because the first play was an Williams gain of 8 after the defense expected pass on first down. After getting caught on their heels on first down, the linebackers key in on Williams and opens up a window for Nick Fitzgerald to complete a pass for another first down, keeping the drive rolling. Play number three? Now looking confused two plays in a row, Fitzgerald decides to take it himself, for another first down gain that put the team head of the sticks. If Williams is rolling, the rest of the offense falls into place.
3. How has Todd Grantham done in his first year there?
Evan: He has exceeded my wildest expectation for year one on the job. Nationally, MSU ranks 12th in total defense, 9th in pass defense and 14th in defensive efficiency after Grantham has not had even a full calendar year with his unit. The Dawgs are on their 4th defensive coordinator in as many years and this is the fist time I have actually felt confident that one might stick around. If Grantham stays put in Starkville, he has a real opportunity to build one of the best defensive units in the SEC an in the nation.
4. After a hard fought game against Bama, are the concerns of the Bama hangover looming with an early kickoff?
Evan: I honestly don't think there will be any sort of hangover. These guys are hungry, they feel as if they were the better team that night and should have won, but never the less they did not. I think that Mullen's squad will roll into town ready to roll up a W and move onto what this game is really in the way of, the Egg Bowl.
5. What are your predictions for the game?
Evan: Vegas lines have us currently listed at 12.5 point favorites this weekend, and if you were to ask who I'm putting my money on, it would be the Dawgs and the points. MSU is ready to finally finish a season strong, there is a very real chance that Mullen could pull off his second 10-win season in four years. That is absolutely unchartered territory for Mississippi State, and buddy let you tell you,, I'm excited about it. Bulldogs over the Hogs 42-17.