This week’s game: No. 16 Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 SEC) at No. 17 MSU (7-1, 3-1), Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe)
In today’s Journal, you can read about how senior receiver Chris Smith has suddenly become more of a downfield threat. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how he’s become that sort of receiver, but the numbers don’t lie. One possible explanation: Good ol’ hard work.
Coach Dan Mullen has called Smith “probably our hardest-working receiver.”
“The way I prepare myself in practice, it shows in games,” Smith said. “If I run a deep route in practice and Tyler (Russell) gets the ball to me, it’s most likely to happen in a game. When it comes down to game-time situations, he sees me beating my guy, Tyler’s going to make that throw.”
Russell and Smith go way back, of course, having been teammates at Meridian High School. They won a state championship there as seniors, and their connection is as strong as ever. They know each other well, and Russell believes Smith’s increased production could be due to the fact he’s a senior. The clock is ticking.
“You can tell the sense of urgency of Chris, and all the seniors, you don’t have many games left,” said Russell, a fourth-year junior. “The attitude kind of changes from the beginning of the season to later in the season because you know with every play, your season’s getting closer and closer to being at an end. He’s done a really good job of being a leader and stepping up and making plays for us.”
One thing Smith has always done well is make tough catches. He made three tough catches for 73 yards in last week’s loss to Alabama. There have been numerous other examples of Smith making catches with a high degree of difficulty, sometimes with a defender bearing down. Like this one.
“It’s really unexplainable,” Smith said. “It’s just effort, man. That’s what coach Mullen always preaches to us every time. It’s just about effort. If I make an effort and go down the field and do what I’ve got to do, do my play, and all of a sudden Tyler’s scrambling – make an effort to come back and get to the ball.”
I’ve got video of Smith below.