Going into Saturday's game with the red and black bulldogs in Athens, most MSU fans were concerned with what they had seen against La. Tech the previous week, yet still were optimistic that mistakes in that game could be attributed to an LSU-hangover. However, watching yesterday's loss to Georgia at Sanford Stadium, it has become evident that issues on both sides of the ball that were not present last year have plagued this team in it's 2-3 start. Although many State fan's have already begun to write off this team not even halfway through the season, there are some positives to build on as State enters into a "softer" portion of its schedule. Here's FWtCT's Fanalysis of yesterday's Georgia game, as well as next week's game vs. UAB.
The Good: The Good coming out of yesterday's 24-10 loss to Georgia would have to be the way the defense played in the second half. If you watched the entire game, then you noticed that the 1st half defense vs. the 2nd half defense was like watching two completely different teams play. In the first half, UGA Fr. RB Isaiah Crowell had his way with the Maroon Defense, knifing and gashing his way to almost 100 yards in the first half alone. Yet in the second half, the bulldog defense was able to bottle up young Crowell, forcing the Georgia offense to punt more often and giving the State offense more opportunities to climb back into the ballgame. The highlight of the game was most definitely Juco transfer Darius Slay's second half 72-yd INT return for State's only TD. Slay, who is a newcomer to the Bulldog defense, was one of a few bright spots for the maroon and white on a Saturday in Athens.
Other notable good performances Saturday:
Nickoe Whitley: 1 tackle, 1 INT
Cam Lawrence: 12 total tackles, 1 INT
Deontae Skinner: 10 total tackles, 1 TFL
The Bad: The offense. This section could be 8 pages long in talking about all the issues that currently plague the bulldog offense. Questionable playcalling. the inability to gain momentum and sustain drives. The inability to make the big play. All of these things, among others, have raised their ugly heads in describing the State offense in what has been a complete 180 of what State fans expected out of this unit coming into the season. To me, the biggest issue remains up front on the offensive line. Although the unit we are fielding is playing their butts off, it is more than evident 5 games into the year that we miss NFL LT Derrick Sherrod and former C J.C. Brignone quite a bit this season. Additionally, injuries to key starters Tobias Smith and James Carmon have kept this unit from gaining any unity and familiarity week in and week out so far through the season. The good news is there's nowhere to go but up for the offense. The other good news: this offense still features dangerous weapons such as Vick Ballard, LaDarious Perkins, Chad Bumphis and Marcus Green. Although yesterday we saw an offense completely out of sync and unable to make the big plays to win the game, I think a schedule featuring UAB, Kentucky and UT Martin in the next 5 weeks will be just what the doctor ordered for this Bulldog offense to get back on track. The talent is there, they just have to be able to put the pieces together.
The Upcoming: UAB, October 8th, 11a.m kickoff on FSSouth. No offense to the Blazers of UAB, but MSU could not have asked for a better opponent at this stage in the season. With injuries, offensive concerns and much more, State needed to be able to step outside the grueling SEC for a week and be able to spend time realigning and reconvening. That being said, here's to hoping coach Dan Mullen has our squad ready to play Saturday, as UAB is more than capable of taking an unfocused MSU team to the wire at Legion Field next weekend. However, if CDM has this team ready to play and can convince them that this season is FAR from over, then we should execute better en route to a victory to go to 3-3 before playing the Ole Ball Coach and South Carolina at home on October 15th.
No matter your frustrations with this team, there are always positives to take away from games and situations. The positives at this time are the defense seems to be gelling and playing better, and the schedule will soften up for the most part in the upcoming weeks. The main point for fans and players alike at this point is: the season is far from over. This team is but a few victories away from looking at postseason play for the second year in a row. But no matter their outcome on the field this past Saturday or next or the next, we support our Bulldogs to the end.