Wow. After spending all offseason long debating whether Keiland Williams or Richard Murphy or Charles Scott would be starting tailback, Tiger fans found out today that Jacob Hester will be the starter next Thursday in Starkville. Beyond Hester, the depth chart is now evidently Scott, then Williams, then Murphy. As I have noted before, I'm not thrilled about the prospects here. But then, I'm not the head coach. Hell, I'm barely qualified to even comment. (Assuming by "qualified" one means "a bachelor's degree in economics-accounting.")
Miles claims he's going with the safe decision (basically, since he said he wants the senior since it's an opener on the road). I think the world of Hester, but I'm a big flabbergasted by this decision. "Safe" comes into play when we're on the road against a Top 10 opponent like Auburn or Florida (where we self-destructed anyway, despite the solid efforts of Mr. Hester). But against Mississippi State?
It comes down to judging the downside risk versus the potential upside. Clearly, you don't want it to be a 1:1 tradeoff. It's tough enough to quantify this in investing (the field in which I work), so I won't even try to quantify it from a football perspective. Essentially, though, the risk of starting a Williams or Scott is that their lack of experience causes poor decisions, hesitation in the backfield, and potentially in a worst-case scenario, a turnover. AT THAT TIME Miles could always make the decision to go with the learned hand in Hester. A single turnover - again, the worst case scenario - to me does not appear to be such a negative against a team of Mississippi State's caliber. Again, one should never take any opponent likely, but the bottom line is our talent is vastly superior to State's, so if it comes down to ONE TURNOVER making the difference between winning and losing, Coach Miles has a helluva bigger problem on his hands: namely, that the decision over starting Hester vs Scott/Williams the following week versus Virginia Tech will probably be his FIFTH most important decision, behind everything else that could have made a game against Mississippi State so close.
I was an ardent supporter of Miles all of last year. I'll start this year off by saying I'm perplexed by the decision and think it's dead wrong. I would love NOTHING more than to be proven utterly wrong. And note: this proof will only come as the season unfolds, and we find out whether our running game can deliver against Va Tech, Florida, Auburn, and at Alabama; it will NOT come simply if Hester churns out a solid 100 yards and a couple TDs against an (admittedly tough) State defense.
Ehm, more arrests as freshman LB Derrick Odom gets booked on breaking into an apartment. While we're certainly no Cincinnati Bengals (or even Penn State, Illinois, or Florida), this offseason has been a bit louder than normal on this front. As the article notes, this is the third member of the 2006 class who's gotten in trouble with the law this offseason - Zhamal Thomas and Troy Giddens were kicked off the team a few months ago.
Separately, I'm participating in a wedding all weekend, so I will be incognito for a couple days (though that's the norm this offseason; since we're in the last week to kickoff, though, I figured I'd add the disclaimer)