Jackie Sherrill, the man who holds 25% of State's victories over Auburn, loved to play field position. And in the SEC, where defense reigns supreme, field position is very important.
The story of last year's game (other than blown calls, War Eagle running into the press box and MSU blowing the first 5 minutes) was field position. MSU's averaged starting at their own 20, Auburn at their own 33.
1st quarter: MSU started off the game on their own 8. The result was punting out of the endzone and allowing Auburn to start their first drive on State's 36.... touchdown.
2nd quarter: Tre Mason returns the kickoff (that had given State a 21-14 lead) to their 46. One first down later and BAM - 46 yard TD pass to Emory Blake. A second drive starts at the AU 41 and results in a touchdown.
3rd quarter: Tre Mason starts the 2nd half by returning the kickoff to the 50. They gain 35 yards off Dyer and McCalebb before kicking a FG.
4th quarter: Chris Relf and Co. start the final drive on their own 33. Nothing against Johnthan Banks' 22 punt return that got them there, but what if MSU could have had some of that 40-50 yard line stuff Auburn was getting? MSU moved the ball at will on that drive, just ran out of time....10 yards would've helped.
Hopefully the new kickoff rules will prevent Auburn from getting some of those great starting positions this year. Also key, as we've been talking about plenty here on FWtCT - playing a more aggressive style of defense could help with the field position. With McCalebb back there you have to be careful to not get burnt, but Frazier doesn't really strike much fear into a defense, and I think blanketing Blake and Lutz and loading the box will get the job done.