Another week and another no so perfect performance by the Bulldogs. But the team is now 4-0 and has done what they're supposed to and that is win. Heading into the bye week, however, there are a lot of question marks. Is this defense going to be as aggressive as we know they can be? Or are they going to continue soft coverage for most of the ball game and wait for their opportunity to pounce? Is Tyler Russell going to be able to go a complete season taking the beating that he has?
With that said, let's take a look who improved their stock Saturday and who might be making a drop.
On the rise: Special teams- For the first time in a very long time, the special teams were near perfect for MSU. They were lead, of course, by kicker Devon Bell. MSU fans can take a collective sigh of relief after the freshman's 3-3 performance hitting two 42 yarders and a 31 yarder. Not only did he make them, he made them with ease. For now, State has what they think should be a reliable kicker for a long time. Bell has punched in four consecutive field goals and seems to be over his three misses that started the season and his career off.
As good as Bell was, punter Baker Swedenburg was just as consistent. Swedenburg has spent the last two seasons calmly keeping the ball in the air long enough that the returner has no room to progress the ball. He was incredibly consistent once again Saturday punting four times for 188 yards a cool average of 47 yards per kick. He had a punt downed inside the 20 and one touchback. His efforts are why MSU is one of the tops in punt return yardage allowed.
On top of the kicking, MSU had one of their better games in the past couple of years in returning. Johnthan Banks returned three punts for 34 yards and Jameon Lewis exploded for 90 yards on just two returns. They showed that there's so much potential there in the return game that needs to be utilized and I think they're finally coming through.
On the fall: Offensive play calling and execution- Ladarius Perkins carried the ball 11 times, ran for 72 yards, and scored a touchdown. Why is he running the football 11 times? He was the top running back in the SEC two weeks ago and showed that he could carry the load and wasn't just a situational back. Yet the offense comes out with play action and roll out passes from the beginning. I am nowhere near a coach so I'm going to shut up pretty quick. These coaches know what they're doing and that's why they get paid and I don't. But it was curious to me why the Bulldogs didn't utilize the fact that we were physically much more superior and instead wanted to work on passing first and foremost. I think that during this bye week, a lot of things will be addressed offensively and I expect there to be a different looking team at Lexington next week. But then again that's what we expected Saturday.
There's plenty to work on before the Bulldogs are considered real contenders for the SEC West but I think there is some potential there. It all depends on when State realizes that potential and puts it to good use.