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Jerious Norwood's Atlanta Near-Career: Blame Bobby Petrino, Of Course

Most everything in Flowery Branch can be traced back to the SEC West. Take, for instance, former Mississippi State star Jerious Norwood, who never seemed to meet his potential in five seasons with the Falcons. Norwood is basically the sole NFL "name" State fans can follow in recent years, and they complained he was under-utilized and ignored long before he earned his current stigma of being injury prone.

Hey Dogs: Blame current Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino! Oh yes - you see what we did there, and deep down, YOU LIKE IT.

No single season was more crucial to Norwood's development as a pro than Petrino's abortion of a 2007 campaign. Despite showing off breakaway speed (6.0 yards a carry, and in case you forgot, not by virtue of a great O-line) and versatility in the passing game (28 catches, 277 yards), Norwood toiled in the shadows of graybeard Warrick Dunn, who, while certainly still deserving of some touches, showed his age in '07 - he failed to rush for over a 1,000 yards for the first time since 2003, and averaged a sputtering 3.2 yards a carry. 

Yet Dunn started 15 games and took double the amount of carries than the second year tailback despite an infuriating, obvious difference in speed and power between the two. Had Petrino - who also burned a Top 10 pick on eventual pink elephant Jamaal Anderson (FROM... ARKANSAS! YES, YES INDEED) - thought to at least even the amount of touches and/or starts between the elder Dunn and the promising Norwood, there's a chance that the latter might still be in Atlanta and enjoying a more prominent career, if only as a third down specialist. Bizarre concepts in this tricky pro game: lessening the wear on a nearly 33-year-old feature back while seasoning a future star. 

Why should State fans (who sit almost entirely in Saints Country) care about Norwood blossoming in Atlanta? Because thanks to Bobby's devaluing of Norwood, Dog fans are now forced to pin the success of their best pro on excommunicated former head coach Sylvester Croom (currently the Rams' RB coach), who State fans absolutely loathe (in as polite a way possible, so as to still retain bragging rights for breaking racial barriers in SEC hiring practices). 

Tighten your grip on that double-edged sword, Starkville, and never forget which beady-eyed pig put you in this mess to begin with.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.