http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081002/SPORTS030102/810020350/1079

STARKVILLE — Tyson Lee took a break from tying his shoes before practice Tuesday to step into a new role: As the new starting quarterback, he’s one of the team’s visible leaders.

So consider it one of his jobs now to diagnose the Mississippi State team’s attitude heading into a week that won’t end with a game.

“It’s excitement,” Lee said. “We’ve got seven games left and we believe we can win the next seven games on our schedule. Right now, we’re looking at a new beginning.”

So Lee has the optimism part down.

Thing is, there’s reason for at least some of it.

“Anytime things go well, there’s a boost in confidence,” MSU coach Sylvester Croom said. “We haven’t had a lot of things go very well for us offensively this season, so I’m sure there has been (added confidence).”

In its 34-24 loss at then-No. 5 LSU Saturday night, State (1-4, 0-2 SEC) scored more points than it had against its previous three Football Bowl Subdivision opponents combined.

Its offense, once mired in mediocrity, showed signs of life.

Though State has three unbeaten teams remaining on its schedule, two of them, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, don’t strike the same fear as does No. 2 Alabama. A 2-3 Middle Tennessee State team remains, as does a 1-3 Tennessee club and a 2-2 Arkansas team.

And then there’s the Egg Bowl, against 3-2 Ole Miss, in which anything can happen.

The Bulldogs are 2-4 after open weeks under Croom. Three of those losses came to Arkansas in late November games; another came to Houston, on homecoming, in 2005.

But its two wins bear a striking resemblance to the opportunity it’ll face next week. They came at home against Southeastern Conference teams in the lower portion of the Top 25 – No. 20 Florida in 2004 and No. 21 Alabama in 2007.

Vanderbilt (4-0, 2-0 SEC) is ranked No. 19 in both polls heading into its Saturday game against Auburn.

“As you saw last week, we’ve got a chance to win,” Bulldogs linebacker K.J. Wright said. “We’re competing against the best. … If our offense can put up points like they did last week, then we should get a win every week.”

Clarion Ledger.com
10/2/08