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Deep Breath… Hold… Exhale

For roughly three hours this morning, denizens of Starkville, Miss., took a deep breath and held it, in unison, as news surfaced that wide receiver Chad Bumphis had broken his ankle while working out in Mississippi State’s weight room. The sound you heard later this morning was a deep exhale, in unison, when a university spokesman reported that X-rays of the ankle in question came back negative — it was only a sprain, not a break, leaving Bumphis bruised but not broken, ready for September. Phew.

How did we get to this point? Thank the Internet for the speed with which a weight room mishap turns into a potentially season-changing injury for the Bulldogs; Bumphis himself took to Twitter late Monday evening to tell followers to “pray for me and my surgery in the morning,” even if the surgery in question probably wasn’t scheduled — seeing that it was a sprain, not a break, after all.

That’s not important — the Twitter message, not the injury. What’s vital is that Bumphis won’t miss any significant time: he led the Bulldogs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns last fall despite missing the final two games of the season. What’s interesting, however, is that M.S.U.’s passing game was at its best with Bumphis in street clothes, not in pads.

Though he did contribute a 44-yard grab in the Egg Bowl win over Mississippi — during which he broke his collarbone — Bumphis wasn’t around for quarterback Chris Relf’s two best performances: 288 yards and 3 scores against the Rebels, 281 yards and 3 scores in the bowl win over Michigan. In other words, there was — and perhaps would have been, had the sprain been a break — life without Bumphis.

Which is a screwy way of saying how important Bumphis is to this offense. More straight-line than tricky, more punishing than potent, Mississippi State dearly needs more of the same from Bumphis, who provides the type of big-play spark often seen from the Dan Mullen-coached squads in Gainesville.

So good thing, then, that it’s just a sprain. Not a break. Take a deep breath and exhale.

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