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MSU expecting defensive challenge

By By Danny P. Smith/special to The Star
September 28, 2002
STARKVILLE The Mississippi State Bulldogs know it will be difficult to move the ball effectively against LSU's "James" gang.
Bradie James is a part of a strong linebacker group for the Tigers, while Damien James leads the cornerbacks against the Bulldogs Saturday.
With 44 total tackles, Bradie James leads the Southeastern Conference, while Damien James is tied for third on the LSU defense with 16 tackles. Both have one interception each.
Reid may be the starter at tailback if Dontae Walker is not able to play when the Bulldogs meet the Tigers at 11:30 a.m. The game at Tiger Stadium will be televised by Jefferson Pilot Sports.
According to Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill, LSU runs the same defensive system which shut out his squad 42-0 on the way to winning the SEC Western Division last season.
Bradie James was selected preseason SEC Defensive Player of the Year by The Sporting News and was a preseason first-team All-SEC pick at linebacker. He is on the watch list for the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award and the Bronko Nagurski Award.
The Bulldogs know he will be a tough customer, especially in Baton Rouge, La.
James and company enter their first SEC game with a 2-1 overall record, while the Bulldogs stand at 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the league.
LSU coach Nick Saban said Mississippi State can be a dangerous team offensively when it holds onto the football.
The Bulldogs have committed 10 turnovers in the first three games of the season.
In the MSU backfield, Reid will get the bulk of the playing time if Walker continues to be hampered by knee and shoulder injuries.
Reid has carried the ball 16 times for 24 yards, but has been an effective receiver with seven catches for 73 yards.
The Bulldogs have shown more production in the passing game. They have averaged 99 yards rushing per game and 265.3 yards passing per outing.
Saban sees Mississippi State making a transition from a primary running team to a passing offense.
Fant has completed 34 of 57 pass attempts for 551 yards and three touchdowns in two games this season.