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Bellard Has a Plan for His Seventh Campaign at Mississippi St.

Associated Press

Coach Emory Bellard is brimming with confidence when he predicts where his Mississippi State football team will finish in the 1985 Southeastern Conference race.

“We’re going to win the Southeastern Conference football championship,” Bellard told a four-county alumni group recently. “We’re gonna take a run at it. It’s high time Mississippi State took a run at it.”

With such powers as Auburn, Florida and Georgia in the SEC, Bellard conceded, he and his staff, the players and a handful of ardent supporters may be the only ones believers at this point. One early preseason polls already has picked Bellard’s Bulldogs to place 10th, a long way from No. 1.

But Bellard, saying he was not basing his prediction on words, outlined a plan of attack for his seventh campaign at Mississippi State. It included:

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DEFENSE--Perhaps his strong suit. Twenty-one of the top 22 players are back, including 10 of 11 starters. The group showed glimpses of greatness last year, and added maturity and depth could be the big difference.

“If you have a pitcher that can hold them to two runs a game you’re always going to be in the ballgame,” he said.

CONSISTENCY -- The Bulldogs found it tough to play four good quarters last year although in many losses they showed winning-caliber football. The final record was 4-7, but in most defeats they led at the halfway point or even going into the final period.

“In a lot of ways we played awfully good football,” he said. “And I think we coached a lot of good football. In the first half we showed we could play the game and were prepared. We have to put it together for four quarters. We couldn’t retain those things.”

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BETTER ATHLETES -- An off-season conditioning program has been the best since Bellard arrived at State. Players have shed or added pounds as needed, built up strength and speed and increased mobility.

“Looking back to the fall it was our evaluation that we worked hard and played hard,” he said. “The only way we saw to improve would be to improve individual skills as athletes. Almost without reservation we accomplished those goals.”

THE EDGE -- Bellard’s favorite point. It could come in several forms. Maybe the biggest edge for Mississippi State would be the new “offensive concepts” his staff has installed. Of course, they will still have to block and run and pass.

“In 1968, Texas had been through three straight 6-4 seasons,” said Bellard. “We put the wishbone in at that time, tied one, lost one and then won 30 in a row, including two national championships.”

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That was some kind of an edge. Bellard is hoping his new, still unnamed, offensive concept will do the same thing for Mississippi State.


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