Dominant. That's the only word I have to describe how the Dawgs played yesterday. To the observations:
1. An absolute total team effort from the D yesterday. Our leading tackler was Preston Smith with 6. But we had 13 guys with 2-4 tackles. Everyone made plays. Unreal.
2. The front 7 completely controlled the line of scrimmage. As I pointed out in the offensive portion of my Liberty Bowl Preview, Rice came into the game 16th nationally rushing the ball and averaged 240.2 YPG on the ground. The Dawgs completely snuffed out the run game, holding them to 61 yards rushing. Unreal. The Owls had absolutely nowhere to run.
3. Pass D was about as good as we could have hoped for, especially with the injury situation at S. The Dawgs wound up holding Rice well under 100 yards passing at 84 yesterday.
4. The only Rice score came after we fumbled and gave them a short field. Props to them for making us pay for the mistake.
5. Hats off to Deontay Evans. He drew the start in the absence of Nickoe Whitley and played extremely well. He finished tied for 2nd in tackles yesterday with 4.
6. Ryan Brown's sack of Driphus Jackson was a thing of beauty. He used a swim move to beat the LT, then turned on the jets to close on the QB. Jackson never felt him coming and Brown CRUSHED him. It was maybe the biggest hit of the game.
7. State was great at getting off the field on 3rd down yesterday. Only allowed Rice to convert 4-14 3rd downs. For those counting, that's 10 3-and-outs.
1. As usual, this continues to be the weak spot. A blocked PAT? Are you kidding me?!
2. Return game continued to be a non-factor.
3. We made a FG!!! All facetiousness aside, it was nice to see us let Earhart kick it. Apparently he's from Olive Branch, so I'm sure he had a bunch of family and friends in attendance.
4. Normally I'd save this for the coaching/miscellaneous section, but I can't wait. We have GOT to force Mullen to hire a real ST coach in the off-season. If we don't, I'm going to lose my mind. My suggestion: Move Salach to an administrative position like we tried to do last year, then use his spot for the ST coach. But it's GOT to happen somehow. It inexcusable to have literally the worst STs in the nation.
1. Another complete effort from the Dawgs' offense. We piled up 533 total yards, 294 passing and 239 rushing.
2. The OL completely mauled the Owls' DL. They got almost no pressure when we passed and 239 rushing yards speaks for itself.
3. The Owl CBs are very good, but their safeties are just bad. We had guys running open all day. Now, some of that has to do with the improvement of our WR group the last 2 months. We ran good routes yesterday.
4. The WRs pretty much eliminated the drops yesterday. Only 3 that I remember.
5. Dak Prescott. WOW. He was sharp all day. Throws were on time and on target. He didn't seem to rush. He only made 2 throws all day that put the ball in harm's way. He played about as flawlessly as I've ever seen an MSU QB play. And he's only going to get better. But you want to know why the team responds for him? Look at JRob's big run: Dak was the lead blocker. Dak gets out front, seals off a LB with a good block, then finds a DB and blocks the guy for about 20 yards downfield, finishing him off 5 yards deep in the endzone. THAT'S why this team rallies around Dak.
6. LaDarius Perkins: 13 carries, 47 yards, 3.6 YPC. Made a nice grab and run to score the first TD.
7. Josh Robinson: 3 carries, 45 yards, 15 YPC.
8. Jameon Lewis. Incredible. Honestly, I'm having trouble coming up with a word for how good Tubby was yesterday. 9 catches for 220. The only thing he didn't do is score. He set both the Liberty Bowl and MSU single game receiving records. He broke the LB record in just under 3 quarters. His 65 yard run showed he's got some serious speed in the open field. Made a couple of highlight reel catches.
9. RoJo's fumble hurt, but it was an effort mistake. I can forgive effort mistakes. He was fighting for extra yards, partially because he wasn't sure if he had the first down. I'd rather have a WR that's physical than a WR that gets on the ground every time a DB gets within a yard of him. RoJo has to secure the ball better, but that's something that can be fixed with coaching.
10. I repeat: Bear Wilson is going to be a special WR before he leaves MSU. It's hard to believe he's a true freshman playing only his 2nd year of football ever. The kid has intangibles you can't coach. He WANTS the ball and fights DBs for it. The grab he made where he took what looked to be an INT away from the Owl DB was awesome. You can also see he and Dak starting to develop some chemistry together. He finished 2nd on the team in receptions yesterday.
11. Man, Ashton Shumpert is PHYSICAL. I'm not sure he has the breakaway speed to be an elite every down back, but if I only need 1-2 yards, he's the guy I'm handing the ball. I almost feel bad for the Rice LB he trucked.
12. Artimas Samuel has me excited at TE. He's already the best all-around TE on the team. His TD catch yesterday was absolutely sick.
13. LOVED the play call that resulted in the MoJo TD. Everyone but MoJo and 2 blockers go left, Rice naturally follows Dak. He turns, throws all the way back across the field to a wide open MoJo, and Mojo does the rest.
14. ANNEXATION OF PUERTO RICO!!! Seriously, a jet sweep reverse flea flicker? Fun to watch, even if it didn't work.
15. Enjoyed seeing Nick Griffin get some touches, although it was a little bittersweet for WMD. He ran hard and was physical. But it was clear he's lost a couple steps after the knee injuries. PLEASE put this man at FB next season. He'd be a beast for us there.
1. Props to the fans! You guys showed up, nearly filled the LB, and made it a loud, rowdy homefield advantage. THAT'S the kind of thing that bowl committees notice and will get us better bowls in the future.
2. Really loved the move by Mullen to pull Gabe by himself in the 4th so he could get a well-deserved ovation from the fans. Class move.
3. Wish Dan had let D-Will throw it a little, but completely understand why he didn't.
4. Can't emphasize enough how much I enjoyed watching us clear the benches in the 4th. A whole lot of guys work really hard and get their brains beat out by our starters in practice every week. It was awesome to reward them by giving them some PT.
5. I thought for the most part that play calling was very good yesterday. Maybe only a couple of questionable calls, like attempting to run Dak out of the 5-wide set on the goalline. Mostly it was the usual personnel things we've discussed ad nauseum this season.
6. Mullen say "See you in Omaha!" HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
7. It's always great to send out the seniors with a W. This senior class is particularly special, as they're Mullen's first full class and the guys who initially bought in and have helped lay the foundation for future success.
8. The amount of young guys out there making plays has WMD EXTREMELY excited about the future of the program. The amount of development I've seen the last month, and especially from the Egg Bowl to yesterday, is amazing. Some of these guys have really started figuring it out some. Next year could wind up being VERY special.
9. Overall, we finally played a complete game from start to finish. Defense & Offense both had it going at the same time and it was beautiful to see.
That's how WMD saw it. You know the drill. Fire in the hole!
In Mullen We Trust,