Like the Greeks in Homer's epic, Mississippi State sacked Troy last night. What did we learn in the wake of the destruction? Here's what I saw:
1. Seems like I say this every week: This unit played their guts out. We're seeing week-to-week improvement, especially on the D-Line and in the Secondary. I firmly believe this can be an elite unit by season's end.
2. D held Troy to 186 total yards. Troy came into the game averaging almost 550 Total Yards Per Game, good for Top 20 nationally. Holding them to that output was insane.
3. Defensive line really dominated the line of scrimmage. Chris Jones was a beast. They double teamed him consistently, and he was still getting solid pressure.
4. Tackling was MUCH improved. Very few missed tackles. Lots of nice form tackling and wrapping up. If we keep doing that, we're going to be a very good defense.
5. Nickoe Whitley is good for 1 personal foul per game. He's a senior; he should know better. And why was he in man-to-man on Troy's TD drive? That was an awful decision.
6. Jamerson Love is really good. He's been everyone's favorite whipping boy for more than a year, but his pick-6 was a thing of beauty. Really showed his speed.
7. Loved the intensity from everyone on D, especially late in the game when we were clearing the bench. You could really sense those guys wanted to stop Troy as badly as the starters and weren't going to let them score. That kind of pride is something that's hard to find and separates good defenses from great defenses.
8. Overall, we had a very solid gameplan. We sat on the intermediate routes, played a little wide to help contain the bubble screen, and forced Troy's QB to try to chuck it deep. It was clear very early Troy wasn't going to run on our front 7. Of course, with the way the DL dominated last night, pretty much anything would have looked good.
9. Quay Evans sighting. Nice to see him making a bit of an impact and get a TFL. Hopefully the light is coming on for him and he has a monster second half of the season. He's definitely capable.
1. Another thing I find myself saying every week: Devon Bell misses a field goal. This week it was a 30-yard chip shot. Seriously, I'd bet a rather hefty sum there is at least 1 better kicker somewhere on campus. There is absolutely no reason for Devon Bell to be given more chances. If we don't have a new kicker for LSU, Mullen should have his head examined.
2. Nice recovery and stop on the fake punt from Troy.
3. Return game wasn't much of a factor. Lack of opportunities and the rugby style punting were the main causes. Not worried about the return game. Other than Tubby's propensity to cough it up fighting for extra yards.
1. #TeamDak: I think it's safe to say Dak is the first MSU QB to run, throw, and catch a TD in the same game. He threw for 233, rushed for 53, and caught for 36. He accounted for 322 total yards and 58% of the offense. He also completed 62% of his passes. I honestly have no clue how anyone can say in good faith that he shouldn't start ahead of TR at this point.
2. We had 551 yards of total offense. Welcome to modern football. Troy's D is bad, but we also made them look really bad. How many times can a Mississippi State offense say that? Not many, in my years of watching.
3. I got a little worried when we settled for the FG after the fumble recovery. But the offense rallied and put it well out of reach in the second quarter.
4. Key Stat: 8 of 12 on third down. Stay on the field, move the chains, good things happen. That's a huge improvement from last season and the first 3 games of this season.
5. J-Rob had 6 carries for 46 yards and 7.7 YPC. Can we PLEASE give it to him 15-20 times a game? He's the type of back that wears on a D and will get stronger as the game goes along.
6. Loved seeing how physical RoJo played last night. When he trucked the Troy DB to get extra yards and the first down, it was a big momentum swing for the offense.
7. Tubby Lewis continues to showcase his playmaking ability. Like Dak, he rushed, caught, and threw a TD last night. He's a special talent.
8. WRs still struggled with the dropsies some, but not as badly as the first 3 weeks. They're improving and have a lot of upside. Definitely the weakest part of our offense right now, though. Nice to see some of the young guys like Fred Ross and Fred Brown make plays.
9. The third thing I find myself saying weekly: Why is Joe Morrow still playing, much less starting? He dropped what might have been Dak's best pass of the night and a sure TD. I have yet to see him do anything positive.
10. Bear Wilson is going to be a player. Yes, he dropped a couple balls, but his upside is better than Morrow's right now. And he at least attempts to use his height to his advantage and shows a willingness to fight for the football. Also, he made a hell of a block to seal the lane for Dak on his long rushing TD. Frankly, he should get all of Morrow's snaps.
11. Hate seeing Perk re-tweak the ankle. He's a valuable weapon for our offense.
12. Offensive line continued their improved play. Dylan Holley showed some real hustle getting downfield on Dak's receiving TD to make the block that ensured Dak would score.
13. Damian Williams will be a good QB for us. He made some freshman mistakes last night, but he also made a couple nice throws. Also continued showing some nice escapability when under pressure.
14. Playcalling and gameplan were outstanding. Jet sweeps, read option, bubble screens, some razzle dazzle. We put it all on display last night, and it was impressive to see. A mobile QB makes all the difference.
15. Still wish we'd stop trying to split carries between 5 RBs. It's absolutely stupid. Not to mention a gigantic waste of Ashton Shumpert's redshirt.
1. Loved seeing Mullen call the timeout with less than 2 minutes in the half to force Troy to punt. Then we immediately march down and score a TD. Seems he definitely got the memo about taking his foot off the gas after last week. The only way to develop killer instinct is to go for the kill when you can. We did that last night.
2. Also liked seeing Dak get the first drive of the 2nd half. Again, stomping on the throat when you have the chance.
3. Barrin Simpson looks like he could still play.
4. Liked that Mullen publicly said the team had academic requirements to meet in order to be able to go home next weekend. "I am my brother's keeper."
5. Thought Mullen sounded much more upbeat and positive on the whole than he has in a long time last night.
6. Props to our fans (you guys) for showing up. Heartbreaking loss to Auburn, threat of rain, and game on TV. Until the last few years, that means we'd have had about 35K show up. Instead, the stadium was pretty full and loud. We're really starting to get it as a fan base in terms of showing up every week. Keep up the good work.
7. WMD's cowbell died in pregame. RIP, cowbell. You served me well.
I'm excited for LSU in 2 weeks. We're definitely improved, despite the 2-2 record. Be there, be loud. That extra edge could be the difference in finally snapping the Corndogs' win streak.
In Mullen We Trust,