To say the Mississippi State Bulldogs lucked into their 30-24 victory on the road against the Troy Trojans would be truthful, but saying the Bulldogs stole the victory might be more accurate.
Here are a few things everyone knew going into the game:
- Troy has been a historically tough place to win
- Troy has historically been a competitive ball club
- Troy has some voodoo magic against Mississippi State
The game left me with these five quick thoughts:
- Tim Brewster needs to go Hal Mumme on his boys this week. I'd put wet balls in the passing machine, crank it up to eleven and have the players in close proximity. Seven dropped passes almost doomed the Bulldogs, and if the refs had recognized number eight in the back of the end zone, I think Mississippi State loses this one. It was nuts for Tyler Russell to see so many solid passes hit the ground.
- This game should prove that our defense should never play a soft zone again. The Bulldogs looked very vulnerable against a good quarterback, Corey Robinson.
- That said, it is tough to go to hard on our defense because they were gassed. A couple of three and outs against Troy makes for a defensive nightmare. Once the Trojans got into hurry-up mode against our defense, the defense started to struggle. It is tough to stay solid on defense when the opponent runs twenty something more plays than your offense manages to snap.
- Does Dan Mullen have faith in the kicking game? Yes, Devon Bell hit a field goal. However, a point after was missed, and Mullen twice eschewed field goals in the closing minutes of the game with a two point lead. I could understand the first one, a near 52-yard kick. It was the second passed opportunity that proves there is doubt in Mullen's mind. He passed on a 42-yard attempt from the middle of the field for a fourth down play that surprisingly was not ruled an incomplete catch in the end zone. Had the officials overturned the third touchdown of the night for Chad Bumphis, Troy very well could have won.
- How much longer can the Bulldog defense win keep dominating the turnover battle? Darius Slay went beast-mode recovering three of the four Troy turnovers, but can this defense keep it up?
BONUS: Larry Blakeney Field has an awesome vibe to it. I mean this in a positive way, but it felt like a super-amped prep football game. Yes, the lines were too long (especially will-call),but the dug-out stadium means everyone has a good seat. I loved the bowled in area of the field. Their band plays good songs and tries to entertain. When the Trojans score, a party breaks out in the stadium. To top it off, everyone I met associated with Troy could not have been kinder. This includes their IMG staff, their game day ops people, beat writers, and fans. Taking my two-year old to his first game, I feared that the crowd could be mean. The opposite was true--props to Troy of making a road game fun.I