On the Links: Opinion Offering; Around the SEC

This week’s game: Tennessee (3-2, 0-2 SEC) at No. 19 MSU (5-0, 2-0), Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN2 (Joe TessitoreMatt Millen and Allison Williams)

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Seems like I’ve discussed this before, but in today’s opinion offering I ponder what to make of this MSU team after five games. The schedule so far has made it difficult to judge the Bulldogs, especially when you consider all the intangibles that could be at play here, like motivation and desire. You can get only so fired up for South Alabama and Kentucky.

Quarterback Tyler Russell has seen that become an issue.

“Last week I felt like we kind of got lackadaisical,” he said. “We didn’t go out there and finish the game like we needed to.”

Such a tendency must not surface this weekend against Tennessee, because if MSU lets its foot off the gas for even a series, the Volunteers will buzz right on past. Perhaps the magnitude of this game will help the Bulldogs stay motivated for four quarters. This will be their toughest test to date, and if they can’t get up for this one … well, that spells trouble.

But what do we know for sure about this team? We know the secondary is awfully good. We know Chad Bumphis is a different player. We know the linebackers are deep and talented. We know Russell needs to be more consistent. We know LaDarius Perkins feels at ease in the No. 1 tailback role.

There perhaps a few other things, but many questions remain. Like whether the defensive line can bring consistent pressure, or whether the offensive tackles can hold up against quality SEC defensive ends, or whether the offense can be more prolific.

It’s a puzzle.

• Let’s check out some links this morning: UT coach Derek Dooley expects to return to practice today. … As you likely know, Dooley will coach from the booth Saturday. His assistants don’t foresee any issues with that. … As we know, the quarterback situation in Lexington is depressing. … Steve Spurrier is tweaking Clemson again, and Dabo Swinney should probably learn to shut up until he can, you know, actually beat South Carolina without the interim tag on his title.

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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