Peeps, last week was devastating. No way around it. Our weaknesses were exposed. But perhaps worst of all, we got blown out at home with one of the 5 best QBs in SEC history and the best QB in MSU history. Now we face a road trip to Fayetteville to face a red hot Arkansas team. Not only have we never won in Fayettenam, this game is traditionally a game where fans and players alike struggle to get up emotionally because of where it falls on the schedule. It is sandwiched between Bama and Northern Miss, our two biggest rivalry games. There is some component of Bama hangover and some component of looking ahead to Northern Miss at work. Everyone is emotionally drained after the Bama game, regardless of the outcome. So what does Mississippi State need to do to get our first ever win in Fayettenam? Here's what I think:
1. Dak Attack: Dak needs to have a huge day throwing. Arkansas has the worst secondary in the SEC and is among the worst in the nation, ranking 114th nationally. The Hogs are giving up 282.3 YPG passing and teams are completing 66% of their attempts against them. If the OL can protect Dak, look for a big day for he and the WRs.
2. Stop the Run: Self-explanatory when you're playing the Razorbacks. They want to run the ball as much as possible. Brandon Allen might be one of the hottest QBs in the nation the last few weeks, but their foundation is running the ball. They want to unleash the biggest OL in football to wear down their opponents. And junior RB Alex Collins is one of the best in the nation. The Dawgs front 7 has to stay disciplined in their gap assignments and clog up the running lanes. Most importantly, they've got to tackle well. Broken tackles turn a 2 yard gain into a 20 yard gain and a TD. Big plays from missed tackles are what beat us against Bama, so we've got to eliminate that this week.
3. Turnovers: The Dawgs need to create a couple of TOs. Keeping that massive Hog OL on the sidelines will be imperative. The longer they're on the field, the more they wear down opponents. It's why Arkansas has become one of the best "finishing" teams in the SEC under HC Bret Bielema. Extra possessions will be a must, as the Hogs have shown they can really score when they need to. Conversely, State needs to play a clean game. Dak can't throw an INT. No fumbles by the RBs will be crucial.
Personnel, Personnel, Personnel: Dan Mullen needs to get the right guys on the field this week. Bench Rufus Warren and Devon Desper up front and start Elgton Jenkins and Dion Calhoun. No more Ashton Shumpert and reduce Brandon Holloway's role. Roll with Aeris Williams - 15 carries for him this week. Pass pro will be extremely critical and Holloway is a liability in that role. Lots of Gerri Green on D, because we need bigger bodies to combat the Hog run game.
That's how I see the Dawgs beating the Hogs. We'll likely come out flat, so we need to keep it close early and just fight through it. Can't afford to spot the Swine 2 TDs and let them run the hell out of the ball if we want to win. Fire in the hole!