New year, same struggles.
Mississippi State's offense came out in the first half of the Texas Kickoff Classic today and looked fantastic, running the ball with LaDarius Perkins and passing with authority behind the senior arm of Tyler Russell.
But the same problems that plagued State so much in big games last season -- penalties, stalled drives, poor play calling -- killed the Bulldogs yet again as the offense was unable to find the endzone the entire first half.
On the flip side of things, Geoff Collins new shiny defense overall played really well, save for one drive where Oklahoma State QB J.B. Walsh had his way with the Bulldogs on the diamond formation. State will have to figure that formation out, because after OSU's success with it late in the first half, I have no doubt that we'll see more of it after halftime.
The culmination of MSU's offensive struggles was summed up perfectly in the Bulldogs final drive of the half. Jameon Lewis returned the kickoff 66 yards, and it looked like State was primed to finally score and take the lead. But the offense again beat itself, and then for some weird reason we decided to go for it on 4th and long from around the 40. That resulted in a sack, and State fans were left shaking their collective heads much the same as we did in similar situations last year.
After that, Oklahoma State put themselves in a position to go up 10-3 heading into the half, but fortunately State was able to block the kick. The return for MSU by Taveze Calhoun nearly resulted in a touchdown, but Calhoun's romp was cut short around the 10 yard line.
The good news is that MSU isn't out of this thing; not by a long shot. As poorly as MSU has played, and as poorly as some of the play calling and game decisions have been, we're still down only by four. But MSU is going to have to find a way to get over the hump that still exists, the mythical hump that keeps them from capitalizing on drives. I hope Dan Mullen conjures up an inspiring halftime speech, because the opportunity, despite some bad play, is still there, but more of the same mistakes in the second half will undoubtedly see State get buried by the Cowboys.