Mississippi State picked up their first SEC win of the year and put themselves back in the hunt for the West with their 17 to 9 victory over Auburn tonight. The Bulldogs had a bit of an up and down game but were simply better than the Tigers tonight.
1. Our offense is more successful when it is focused on throwing the ball. It's different from what we're used to seeing from Mullen, but looking at how this game went, our offense was able to move the best when passing the ball. As much as fans like to complain about the offensive line's blocking ability, they were able to keep Dak upright most of the night and kept pressure off of him when pass blocking.
Also, our best weapons are our receivers. With questions remaining about the running game, Dak was able to distribute the ball consistently to Fred Ross, Fred Brown, Bear Wilson, and Gus Walley. It was nice to see each of these guys have a nice night and carry the offense. Look for this trend to continue the rest of the season.
2. Richie Brown is the best player we have on defense. I'm not sure how much has to be said here but he was all over the place tonight, disrupting Auburn's backfield and seemingly making every play. Many people were concerned with the loss of McKinney to the Texans in the draft, but it seems like we have found our next great MSU linebacker, and that's good.
3. We still have questions about our offensive line when playing physical opponents. Say what you want about Auburn's defense having questions, they still have talent and they still play physically. We had a hard time generating holes for our running game to develop. But like I said earlier, it looks like they're good at pass protection. If they can continue to keep Dak upright and defenders from breathing down his neck, the offense should be able to move assuming we are passing.
4. Ashton Shumpert is a mixed bag at runningback. He's a quality receiver out of the backfield and can do some great blocking, but he simply doesn't seem to be able to get away from tacklers when he gets into the open field. I'm hoping he can pull it together, but it looks like he might be giving up even more time so Brandon Holloway can get some reps.
Speaking of Holloway. The dude had another good game. He was able to dart in and out and away from defenders while gaining chunks of yards at a time. He may not be the biggest, most physical back we've ever had, but there's plenty to look forward to when he takes the field. Expect him to get more playing time.
5. We have found our kicker. Westin Graves is perfect on the season and was able to knock in a key field goal tonight to help extend our lead. It's nice to finally have some confidence in our special teams. Hopefully we'll see Graves continue to play well.