No. 22 Miss. St. trying to recover from 2 losses


No. 22 Miss. St. trying to recover from 2 losses

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) It's been a sobering two weeks for Mississippi State's football team.

Consecutive lopsided losses to Alabama and Texas A&M have erased most of the momentum from an impressive 7-0 start to the season. Now the No. 22 Bulldogs (7-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) must recover quickly and get ready for a night game at Tiger Stadium against No. 9 LSU (7-2, 3-2).

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said there won't be major changes to personnel or the playbook going into the LSU game, but the Bulldogs must execute better on both sides of the ball.

``If you're a student of the game and study the game it is simple - you see a minor breakdown here and a minor breakdown there,'' Mullen said. ``When you make a mistake against quality teams it costs you.''

Alabama and Texas A&M are certainly quality teams. So is LSU. Mississippi State's status is less certain.

The Bulldogs have won three SEC games against Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee, but those programs are a combined 0-18 in conference play.

Now that Mississippi State is playing tougher competition, it's been exposed on both sides of the ball. Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said he counted ``close to 30 missed tackles'' in last weekend's loss to Texas A&M.

That was one major reason Aggies' quarterback Johnny Manziel threw for 311 yards and rushed for 129 yards as Texas A&M built a 31-0 lead on the way to an easy 38-13 victory.

The Bulldogs will undoubtedly work on the physical breakdowns that caused Manziel's big game. But the Bulldogs also must manage the emotional disappointment of almost certainly falling out of the SEC Western Division race.

It's doubtful the Tigers will be in a forgiving mood in Death Valley this weekend.

History isn't on Mississippi State's side. The Bulldogs have lost 12 in a row to LSU and haven't won in Baton Rouge since 1991.

Mullen said he expects the Bulldogs to be ready for Saturday's challenge - both mentally and physically. He said learning to deal with quick turnarounds is part of life in the SEC.

``A lot of leagues, there are one or two big games a year,'' Mullen said. ``In this league every week seems to be that way. So it is not just the mental part of having to be up for such a big game every single week, but also the physical toll it takes from playing top national teams week in and week out on your body. You have to respond. Especially this point of the season, you have to have great mental and physical toughness to get through and win these football games.''

LSU can relate to Mississippi State's recent disappointments. The Tigers are coming off a crushing 21-17 loss to Alabama on Saturday.

``Both of us are 7-2,'' LSU coach Les Miles said. ``They are coming off two losses. We're sick to our stomach. It's two teams with a lot to play for.''

And Mississippi State has a lot to fix.

LaDarius Perkins was leading the SEC in rushing two weeks ago with nearly 100 yards per game, but after gaining just 38 yards against Alabama and 42 against Texas A&M, he's dropped to third in the league.

Tyler Russell threw an interception against both Texas A&M and Alabama after throwing just one in the first seven games combined.

And Mississippi State's defense - once among the best in the league - surrendered 693 total yards to Texas A&M.

Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning echoed Mullen's diagnoses: There isn't one major problem, but several minor issues are adding up to losses.

``You can't hide,'' Koenning said. ``You're starting to get in the meat of your schedule. You've got to do exactly what you're supposed to do. In these games, the small things are magnified.''


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

In this week's mailbag podcast, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir answer several questions about the Caps' prospects and Hershey.

How does the future look on the farm? Plus, they talk about potential weaknesses, their biggest surprises and more!

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5


Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

For well over six seasons, Manny Machado's value to the Baltimore Orioles has been solely his ability to hit and play the field.

All that has changed, now that the Orioles are looking to receive a huge return for their All-Star shortstop in a blockbuster trade.

Machado homered before being removed on a wet day, Adam Jones hit a three-run double and Baltimore rallied past the Texas Rangers 6-5 Sunday.

Machado was taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Buck Showalter after a 26-minute rain delay. The move was designed to get their star player off a sloppy field, because the last-place Orioles are entertaining offers for Machado before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that," Showalter said. "That had a lot to do with it."

Plain and simple, the Orioles can't afford to have Machado get hurt. Now, more than ever.

"A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game," Showalter acknowledged. "We know that. You know it."

After being replaced by Jace Peterson, Machado sat in the dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and joking with his teammates.

"I don't know why (Showalter) did it or not," Machado said. "He just told me, `I'm going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"

Machado is Baltimore's lone representative for Tuesday's showcase. He has spent his entire career in Baltimore, but his contract expires after this season and the Orioles don't appear interested in locking him up with a long-term deal.

"I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing," Machado said. "I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean it's just been very incredible."

In a matchup between two teams staggering into the break, Texas got a first-inning grand slam from rookie Ronald Guzman but quickly gave the lead away in losing for the seventh time in nine games.

Machado ignited the comeback with his 24th homer, and Jones' bases-clearing double in the third off Mike Minor (6-6) put Baltimore ahead to stay.

"I'll be fine," said Minor, who yielded five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I'll reflect a little bit and then get back to it."

The game ended when Texas pinch-runner Carlos Tocci was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus. Running from first base, Tocci was tagged out by catcher Caleb Joseph following throws by right fielder Mark Trumbo and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"Textbook," Showalter said.

Texas manager Jeff Bannister called it a "situation where they had to throw it on line to throw Tocci out. They executed well."

Tanner Scott (1-1), the first of four Baltimore relievers, earned his first big league win.

Zach Britton, another Oriole supposedly on the trading block, worked the ninth for his fourth save, the second in two days.

Texas broke on top when Miguel Castro issued three straight walks and Guzman sent a one-out drive over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

It was 4-1 in the third when Joseph hit an RBI double and Jones doubled down the left-field line following a walk to Machado.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh to get the Rangers to 6-5.


Choo opened the game with a walk, extending to 51 his single-season club record streak of games reaching base via a hit, walk or HBP. ... Texas' Delino DeShields went 0 for 3, stretching his hitless drought to 28 at-bats. ... Jones snapped a 1-for-16 skid with his third-inning double.


Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara was given the day off after hurting his hand Saturday night in the outfield.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) was set to make his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (oblique) and OF Craig Gentry (rib fracture) likely won't come off the DL before August, Showalter said. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (neck strain) will be activated from the DL on Saturday or Sunday to face Toronto, Showalter said.


Rangers: The rotation after the All-Star break, beginning Friday against visiting Cleveland: Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Minor.

Orioles: After the All-Star break, Dylan Bundy will start at Toronto on Friday night.