There's no doubt in my mind the Mississippi State football program is stuck in neutral. Mullen's first two years he had the thing moving forward, in drive, but we've been stuck at a yield sign for the last 2 1/2 years. We haven't put in park yet, and we're not going in reverse, but we certainly aren't making strides to get over the hump. Still, despite what has been laid out for us to see on the field, the future still looks good.
There's no question there is a handful of teams in the SEC that have more talent than MSU, and probably always will. But that doesn't mean you should lose all your games to them, and it doesn't mean you can't hang with them for four quarters. State fans aren't looking for a national championship, but a win over ranked teams every now and again would be nice. To do that, however, it takes execution and making sure the fundamental aspects of the game are performed to a tee.
In every big game State has played there is something that happens which takes them out of contention to win. A play-call, an overthrown pass, a missed assignment, a penalty, etc. There are things you can control and things you can't. I'm not upset Mettenberger, Landry and Beckham abused our secondary on Saturday. But all the little things - not stopping a 3rd & 19, overthrown pass leading to a INT, missed FG, not capitalizing on a turnover in LSU territory - those are things that you have to get done if you want to give yourself a chance to win.
The good news is this team has obvious talent and depth, and if they can just get better in these areas we'll be right there. And Mullen has made some serious adjustments offensively to correct what looked like a disaster in Houston.
For me, Mullen is doing enough to prove he deserves more time to take us to the next level. My biggest concern during the Oklahoma State meltdown was the lack of adjustments that were made in the offseason, and within that game. What we've seen over the last 5 weeks is enough for me to say we've got a good coach and we just need to keep grinding with him. I like the fight they came out with against Troy after a tough loss, and if he can use the next three weeks to pick up some wins and make some corrections this could turn into another successful year. I'm not saying he's Saban or Richt, but with all we have invested in his tenure and everything that's at stake in 2014, it would be hard to say he shouldn't be back for a 6th year. I don't like to make evaluations until the end of the year but what's happened so far is slightly encouraging despite no changes in the scoreboard. Baby steps. Really small baby steps.
You hate to just write off a year and look towards next year. What's happening right now is what's most important, and there is still over half the season left to make some memories, and even a special season. But when you look at everyone who is coming back and the schedule we have, it's hard not to think about the possibilities. Despite what happened against LSU (again), I feel pretty good about the program. Just gotta keep working hard and getting better, getting rid of the mistakes and making every game a 4-quarter game. We'll get there.