After the opening weekend of the 2016 college football season, Mississippi State is 0-1 and it may have been handed to us in one of the most painful ways possible. Yes, there was a lot of bad in Saturday’s game, and I do intend to talk about a good bit of it, but there were actually a few bright spots and even maybe a couple guys that flew under your radar.
Let’s get happy first:
- AJ Jefferson is good at playing football. Collecting two sacks, four TFLs totaling 25 yards and seven total tackles, Jefferson harassed South Alabama’s backfield for most of the day. Too bad he was about the only one, but more on that later.
- Brandon Holloway is ridiculously fast. When he gets around the outside, his playmaking abilities shine. Holloway’s vision along with his elusiveness make him extremely dangerous in space. With 88 yards from scrimmage, the highest total of a non-QB on the team, he showed that he has every bit of talent and potential to become an integral part of this offense. I would love to see him get double the amount of targets next week in the passing game. Playmakers make plays, let’s see if he’s the real deal.
- Fred Ross is still one of the best receivers in the SEC, only problem is, everyone knows it. I really liked seeing Ross run out of the backfield on that outside sweep because that man is hard to bring down when he gets going, especially when he gets some key blocks down the field. Ross NEEDS to be a bigger part of the offense if we expect any level of success this year.
- Damian Williams had a very solid day. He protected the ball, completed a high percentage of passes and ran the ball better than I ever thought he could. He’s a very efficient passer inside of 10 yards, but I really want to see improvement in his downfield accuracy and decision making.
Man, even when I try to say nice things I still have to say something bad.
- The coaching staff should feel awful about this past week. Just about every single issue that I saw with the team came down to a matter of coaching. It started for me when Mullen pulled Nick Fitzgerald after two drives. Yes, they were three-and-outs but it was TWO DRIVES. The offense has had barley any experience with Fitzgerald under center so was I surprised with the slow start? Not one bit. It takes time to get a real feel for your receivers and backs in game situations and in no way do I think that six snaps is enough to get that feel. It’s simply just not fair to the players to expect that out of them. Then there were just completely ridiculous penalties, especially in the fourth quarter. That 99-yard TD drive of theirs should never have happened, it was handed to them with stupid penalties.
- The secondary.. Man oh man did they look the opposite of good on Saturday. They quite simply were out played by USA’s receivers all day. I’m not sure who’s fault it was but damnit, it was not pretty. Whether it be Peter Sirmon completely whiffing on his coverages and packages, or the fact that they just had better players; a certain man named Malachi Dupre is going to have a field day in two weeks if it doesn’t get fixed soon.
I’m going to call it an early day on the bad, y’all have had enough of that this weekend.
- I’m not sure about you guys, but I had no idea that Keith Mixon could play ball as well as he did Saturday. He runs hard and with a purpose, something that was desperately missing with the loss of Malik Dear and a general absence of authority at the RB position. Hell, the kid is even an A+ blocker. I would really like to see Mixon’s number of touches go up dramatically. He’s showing to be a better option than Aeris Williams or Ashton Shumpert, averaging 2.5 YPC more than either (they only had a combined 7 touches total, I’m doing what I can with the stats I’ve got, people). What I think really sets him apart from the other two is his ability to see and cleanly hit holes on the line. Really hope to see a lot of Mixon this year.
- Leo Lewis definitely didn’t have an unnoticed performance in the game, he was really the second best defensive player on the field for most of the game. Only reason he’s in this section is because we had no real idea of what he could do. Now that we do, though, I’m very excited to see what he can do as he develops. He’s quick to the ball and isn’t hesitant to knock you out when he gets there. Definitely one of the few bright spots from Saturday going forward. Welcome to your first and last time as an Unknown, Leo.
- We were 0/3 on stopping third down conversions after Ruff Ryders’ Anthem was played in the stadium and one of them was a 3rd & 11. So yeah, I think that needs to stop @PeopleInCharge.
Think I missed something, feel angry and want to type angry words? Do you think I’m stupid and feel the need to inform me? Leave a comment below and tell me your good, bad and unknowns!