Since my last post at 1:00 and now I've had a chance to watch the replay on ESPN3. What I came away with is what I've heard from everybody else: sluggish, lack of focus, etc. While the defense showed better in this game than against Troy, the offense was mediocre vs. USA. What's the deal, Mullen?
I don't mean to complain, 4-0 is real nice. The last time we were 4-0 I only had a driver's permit. The long hard road to 2012 since then has me feeling amazing about 4-0. But I'm looking down the rest of the schedule and there is a potential to make a good season into a great season, hence my concern, why isn't MSU focused?
Is it because they are 4-0....the first MSU team since 1999? Could they be content with their accomplishments rather than doing whatever it takes to compete for a championship?
Is it because they have simply played down to the competition?
Are the coaches unable to motivate the players?
Are they just not on the level many think they are?
Or is it because they have played underwater (ESPN3) the last two weeks?
I'm not sure what it is, but I think there is a little bit of all the above....even the part about not playing on TV. It's hard to get up for these lesser games. The players feed off the coaches, and if the game plan is vanilla, they probably aren't going to take it as seriously. Maybe it's justified, maybe not.
Was Dan Mullen mad for show after the Troy game or was it for real? I thought the poor performance against Troy would light a fire under the team and they'd come out on Saturday and pummel South Alabama. First four drives: 14 plays, 17 yards, (3) 3-and-outs. Not exactly what I was expecting against a team we should have over-matched.
In the end, the USA game was never in doubt. Even after a rocky 1st quarter I knew as much as the Jaguars hung in there, MSU's depth would wear them down. That will again be the case, to a certain extent, at Kentucky as well. But that game is on the road, and they have enough talent and depth that if the Bulldogs let them hang around through 3 quarters, they could run on adrenaline the rest of the way.
We know State can focus. I changed my title from "can't" to "isn't" after thinking about the Auburn game. I believe the Dawgs will be ready for Tennessee come Week 7. But will they be ready for Kentucky? Will they overlook the Wildcats, or treat them in the same vein as Troy and USA? And if they can't get their mental edge back for UK, but still win, will they be able to get it back for UT when they've shut it down for five weeks?
This isn't a scheduling problem, because I see plenty of teams across the country handling these non-BCS teams with ease. I know it's not easy to reach the same emotional level each week. But there appears to be a lack of preparation, execution and focus needed to take the next step as a program. It's been a recurring theme during Mullen's tenure - these letdown games keep happening. The good news is, State has basically won all of them, so I guess I can't be too critical.