Another non conference team goes down at the hands of Dan Mullen. Here were my biggest takeaways:
Excited about the future
It's unfortunate that Dak was sick the night before the game and was only able to play a few series. But it did open the door for Nick Fitzgerald to see some live action that didn't come in garbage time. Once again, Fitz gave the fans something to be excited about when it comes to life after Dak Prescott.
His deep ball accuracy is unbelievable for a player his age. The two throws to De'Runnya Wilson were throws that not a lot of veterans can make, much less redshirt freshmen. His touchdown throw to Gray was a thing of beaty and a heck of an effort play from Gray. I have a feeling those two will be hooking up deep down the field quite a bit next season. I also think Fitz brings a little something to the run game that Dak can't and that's speed. The competition between Fitz and Staley is far from over, but right now I have to give the edge to #7.
Defensive ends dominate
You really can't say enough about the performances of Ryan Brown and A.J. Jefferson. They were in the back field all game long, and when they weren't making the tackle, they were disrupting the play -- especially Jefferson. Brown had the better stat line -- 7 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and a sack -- which led to him being named the SEC's defensive lineman of the week. But both players had great games, and what is even more encouraging is the continuous effort they showed even though they were playing a weaker team. Is it too early to call this the best tandem MSU has ever had at defensive end?
Offensive line struggles to run block
A lot of the blame for the running game miscues early in the season was placed on the running backs, and deservedly so. However, this game proved that the o line isn't helping matters any. I thought they played their worst game of the season as far as run blocking. They failed to open up any hint of a hole much of the game, which led to MSU averaging only 3.8 yards per carry. And let's not forget, Troy's defense ranks in the bottom half of college football in most categories. It's not like they were playing an SEC defense. Boy, State might not rush for 30 yards when Alabama comes to town.
Defense on the attack
I loved seeing Diaz attacking from the start of the game, something we haven't seen up to this point. They were blitzing like crazy in the first half and it clearly paid off. For the game, MSU's defense racked up 15 tackles for loss and four sacks. WOW. I don't care who you're playing, 15 tackles for loss is impressive. It was also encouraging to see the big hit on Troy's QB early in the game and the fumble recovery in the end zone for Nelson Adams.
They made it a point this week in practice to create turnovers and they accomplished that. Maybe this will be a turning point for the rest of the season. This defense plays a lot better when they're blitzing and getting after the QB. I think you will see that a lot more going forward in SEC games, and you'll start to see it for four quarters instead of one or two.
Fred Ross most underrated WR in SEC
Ross is quietly putting together one of the best seasons in the SEC. After another standout performance against Troy, he is tied with Laquon Treadwell for the most receptions in the conference with 35. In doing so, he may be on his way to breaking the school record for receptions in a season. Not a lot of people outside of Starkville are talking about him, but he has a serious shot at landing on an All-SEC team by season's end.
As soon as he got around the edge on that first reception, I knew he would take it to the house. His punt return was also phenomenal. Ross is just a gamer when he has the ball in his hands. Hopefully he doesn't bolt early for the NFL. That is probably not likely to happen, but he absolutely has that much potential.