Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
|Joe Murphy/Getty Images|
|Wesley Carroll has high expectations for his team in 2008.|
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- For the first part of last season, Wesley Carroll admits he was doing his best just to tread water.
A true freshman, he was forced into action as Mississippi State's starting quarterback when the Bulldogs were searching for any semblance of consistency at the position.
As it was, Carroll ended up starting nine games, and the Bulldogs were 6-3 in those games on their way to an 8-5 finish and a Liberty Bowl win over Central Florida.
A year later, he has a better grasp on everything -- the offense, his teammates, what the coaches are looking for and just exactly what his role will be.
"I expect a lot more from myself and from my teammates just because we've all had a year going into the season," Carroll said. "I didn't have a lot of offseason preparation last year, being able to work timing with receivers and mesh with backs and stuff like that. All that will help our chemistry.
"I wasn't with any of the seniors last year. We, as a team, expect so much more than we did last year."
In particular, Carroll thinks the Bulldogs will be far more flexible on offense and not beat their head into a wall trying to run against defenses that stack the line of scrimmage with eight and nine defenders.
"I think everybody found their niche in the spring and what role they'll be playing on offense as opposed to just going out there and trying to run when there's eight guys in the box," Carroll said. "We won't be able to do that. We established a lot of new formations with plays that we can execute against any defense.
"We have a lot of audibles depending on what the defense does, and we'll always be right. We didn't have that flexibility last year."
A lightly recruited quarterback out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the 6-foot-1 Carroll (and that's stretching it) didn't receive any serious interest in the state of Florida from major schools. He'd never even been to the state of Mississippi until he took his first unofficial visit to Mississippi State in the spring of his junior year in high school.
"There's a lot of guys like me," Carroll said. "We talk about that as a team all the time. There's no five-star guys, best-in-the-country type athletes. But we win, and that's all that matters."