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September 5, 2011
BulldogBlitz Players of the Week
After each win, BulldogBlitz recognizes several players that had outstanding performances that played a major role in Mississippi State's win. Go inside to see who publisher Logan Lowery chose as the offensive, defensive, special teams, freshman and coach of the week were.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Running back Vick Ballard
Senior * 5-11 * 220 * Pascagoula, Miss.
Rushing: 10 carries for 166 yards and three touchdowns
Logan's take: Ballard rushed for a career high 166 yards on Thursday and gained 164 of those in the first half alone. Most of Ballard's yardage came on his 46 and 66-yard touchdowns where Tiger defenders barely even caused him to break stride. As a junior Ballard broke the Bulldogs single season record for touchdowns. If he can continue the hot start he is off to in 2011 that will not be the only record he leaves with. Ballard is already tied for sixth all-time in rushing scores and has only played in 13 games so far.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Linebacker Deontae Skinner
Sophomore * 6-2 * 245 * Macon, Miss.
Defense: seven tackles (four solo, three assists), one tackle for loss
Logan's take: Most of the questions this offseason centered around Mississippi State's linebackers and who would replace the three seniors who left. Skinner proved he was up to the task even though he did not start the Memphis game. Skinner led the team in tackles as a back-up and laid some big licks for the Bulldogs. MSU rotated a lot of players in and out all night on defense but Skinner found a way to make a major impact in snaps he was on the field.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Punter Baker Swedenburg
Sophomore * 6-0* 185 * Columbus, Miss.
Special Teams: Five punts for 207 yards (41.4 avg.), Long of 52 and four punts inside the 20; Passing: 1-of-1 for minus-4 yards
Logan's take: I've known Swedenburg since he was probably three or four years old so it was good to see him go out and have such a solid performance in his Bulldog debut. He signed with State in the 2008 class so he's definitely waited his time. Swedenburg would have likely had a better average if he hadn't had to kick in such close range but he stuck four inside the 20-yard line and one at the 1-yard line thanks to Reed Gordon make a great play to down it. Just let it be known I didn't pick Swedenburg for his passing form, which looked more like a free throw than a pass attempt but to his credit he did complete it.
FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK:
Defensive tackle P.J. Jones
True freshman * 6-2 * 275 * Tupelo, Miss.
Defense: Four tackles (one solo, three assists), one fumble recovery, one pass deflection
Logan's take: Jones was the highest rated recruit signed by Dan Mullen in February and he wasted little time making an impact. In his first collegiate series Jones came up with a fumble recovery that set up the Bulldogs third score of the game. When I saw Jones at camp last summer I thought wherever he landed he might need a redshirt year to put on the size needed to play in the SEC. But as Chris Wilson said after the game, Jones has worked hard to earn his way onto the field and really accelerated the process.
COACH OF THE WEEK:
Offensive coordinator Les Koenning
Logan's take: Anytime a team can shatter a record that has stood longer than I've been alive I'll tip my hat to the man responsible for calling those plays. Koenning called yet another great game for the Bulldogs. He allowed State to jump out to a huge first half lead and was able to get plenty of playing time for some of the underclassmen for the first time. What might be the most impressive part of the 645 yards the Bulldogs picked up on Thursday was the balance. Mississippi State was able to sling it for 336 yards and grind it out on the ground for 309.