Gabe Jackson(pictured above from SEC media days) and the MSU offensive line are getting better each week. This week they will look to back up a good performance against Auburn and take a huge step forward. They will also hope to avoid injuries.
Looking at the schedule before the season, this Troy game was not a game that fans were circling in anticipation. It's a road game at Troy and it's Troy. However, I'm sure Bulldogs fans can recall losing to Troy way back in 2001. The odds were not in Troy's favor that day either. To be fair, though, this is a different circumstance all together. The Dogs are fresh off a big SEC victory against Auburn and sitting on top of the SEC West (way early, but it's cool to say, right?). The Dogs had struggled with the Tigers in recent years, so it is a confidence-building win. On the other hand, Troy is off to a 1-1 start, fresh off a 37-24 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette.
As I've mentioned in previous weeks, Mississippi State will have the advantage at almost every position in each of the four non-conference games this season, and Troy is no different. The Trojans have only managed two sacks in two games against offensive lines vastly inferior to the one they will face Saturday. Also, Troy has turned the ball over four times this season and is minus one in the turnover category on the year. Another statistic of note is that Troy has committed 23 penalties resulting in 191 yards given to their opponents in just two games. That is a sign of a team that is very undisciplined. MSU will look to take advantage of this among many other things this Saturday.
The MSU defense should look good against a Troy team that has put up good offensive numbers against UL-Lafayette and UAB, but turned the ball over a lot. Johnthan Banks and the MSU defense have proven they can create some turnovers and should be able to do so Saturday as well. Another thing I've discussed this season is depth and MSU's front seven should be able to wear down Troy's offensive line on Saturday and get to the quarterback and running back in the backfield.
While advantages will be aplenty, the advantage that I see MSU creating the most success from this Saturday is their offensive line - one that is getting better each week - versus the smaller, slower defensive line of the Troy Trojans. The Bulldogs offensive line has some talent and has been able to avoid injuries so far this season and if they can continue to do that, they will have a chance to be special.
The offensive line will likely create many holes for LaDarius Perkins and company in the MSU backfield and give Tyler Russell enough time to make a few phone calls, do some studying, and then hit his wideouts downfield. Like I said, Troy has only caused two sacks this season and just two quarterback hurries. After an SEC game, this will be good news for Tyler Russell.
Last week, the Bulldogs made Auburn look like one of the worst teams in the SEC. One reason for this was their ability to put Kiehl Frazier in tough situations and force him to make bad decisions. MSU forced Auburn to put the ball in Frazier's hands and the Bulldog defense never let him get any sort of rhythm. If you remember, that was the matchup I highlighted in my (Ad)vantage point column last week. Folks, simply put, I got really lucky. If you expect me to be right again all season, I'll apologize in advance. Give credit to the MSU secondary. That probably won't be the last time they make a quarterback look like Jevan Snead re-incarnated this season. They probably will this weekend.