By Robert Wilson
MSU DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR NOMINATED FOR NATIONAL AWARD
Mississippi State’s defense received some well deserved national recognition this week when first-year Bulldog defensive coordinator Zach Arnett was nominated for the Broyles Award, which honors college football’s top assistant coach.
Arnett is one of 56 nominees across the country from 127 Division I programs. Arnett comes from San Diego State where he was the defensive coordinator. His defense was in the Top 10 in the country in seven categories last season.
Arnett’s defense, which has nine first-time starters, ranks in the Top 25 in rushing defense in the country. MSU has limited opponents to under 100 rushing yards in four games this season, including the first three games, the first time a Bulldog defense has limited a team to less than 100 rushing yards in three consecutive games in 20 years.
MSU is tied for second in the SEC with allowing only six rushing touchdowns and six fumble recoveries. The Bulldogs have forced at least one turnover in eight games this season.
Senior linebacker Erroll Thompson is the SEC’s active leader with 291 career tackles and with seven tackles would become the first Bulldog since 2000 to get 300 career tackles. Thompson has a team-high 74 tackles this season. Sophomore linebacker Aaron Brule leads the country with 22 hurries among linebackers. Cornerback Martin Emerson is second in the SEC with eight pass breakups. Defensive end Marquiss Spencer is tied for second in the SEC with eight tackles for loss among defensive ends.
MSU plays host to Auburn Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.
OLE MISS’ MOORE, CORRAL AND BROWN NAMED SEMIFINALISTS
Ole Miss junior wide receiver Elijah Moore,sophomore quarterback Matt Corral and senior punter Mac Brown were named semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award and Wuerffel Trophy respectively this week.
Moore leads the nation with 86 receptions, second with 1,193 receiving yards, third with 505 yards after catch, 11th with eight receiving TDs and 13th with 158.3 all-purpose yards per game. He ranks first in school history with 86 receptions and 1,193 yards this season. Moore set school record with 14 catches against Vanderbilt.
Corral ranks second in the nation with 381.9 yards of total offense per game, sixth with 72.9 completion percentage, seventh with 187.3 passing efficiency, eighth with 2,744 passing yards and 24 passing TDs. He set a school record with 513 passing yards against South Carolina.
Brown has raised $101,000 for ALS research through the Awesome Lemonade Stand, including $30,000 on this year’s virtual fundraiser. He participates in Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Sweetheart for residents at the Blake in Oxford, Reading with the Rebels, Hope to Dream and Special Olympics. Brown is averaging 46.3 yards per punt, which would rank him sixth nationally if he qualified for enough punts.
Brown is also one of 67 players across the country to be nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy, given to the most outstanding player in the country who began his career as a walk-on. This is the second straight year Brown has been nominated for the award.
Ole Miss’ game at Texas A&M for this week was postponed.
OXFORD ALUM PEGUES ONE OF THREE AUBURN FRESHMEN TO START
Oxford High alumnus J.J. Pegues is one of three true freshmen to start for Auburn this season. Running back Tank Bigsby and wide receiver Ze’Vian Capers are the other two. Pegues, a 6-foot-2, 300-pound tight end, started one game against Arkansas and has played in all nine Auburn’s games. He is listed as the backup tight end on the deep chart.
Pegues, who wears No. 89, has caught seven passes for 57 yards, ran four times for 16 yards and completed his only attempt.
Pegues helped Oxford to the MHSAA Class 6A state championship last season and was ranked in the top 10 in the nation among tight ends by ESPN, Rivals and 247 Sports last season.
Another Mississippian, Madison St. Joseph High and Pearl River Community College alumnus Hayden Brice, is listed as a tight end on the roster, but isn’t on the deep chart. Davis is a 6-3, 220-pound junior.