“It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
Well that guy clearly never watched football, because after Saturday night, I loved that game and lost and days later, I still wish it never happened. Saturday night hurt. Not kick you in the shin hurt but that lingering headache that isn’t bad enough to see the doctor but still just annoys you for days on end as you take Advil after Advil. How did we lose that game? I realize that we did not dominate like we did against LSU but we were in control for so long. We had every opportunity to put them away and our trigger finger would just slip away as we pulled it. It was a hell of an effort from the Dawgs and I am proud of them……but how did we lose that game? Sadly, this question will echo in my head for months to come and can be addressed at another time and place. For now, let’s talk Good, Bad, and Ugly:
- Kudos to Bulldog Nation for creating one of the more electrifying atmospheres on Saturday night. It was loud and it was crazy. I was at the 2014 Auburn game which I stand firm in saying was the most electric and intense game I have ever attended (home or away) and Saturday night was really close to that effort. Good job fans, we need more atmospheres like that.
- Call it an LSU hangover if you want, but the Dawgs matched and in my opinion out-muscled the Tide on Saturday night. Our offensive line was physically moving them from the jump and established the line of scrimmage in a way I have never seen us do against Bama. The rushing stats may show otherwise but you have to account for a lot of their rushing yards came on Jalen Hurts scrambles which is not so much a good thing for their offensive line.
- Piggybacking off the last point, we ran hard. Whether it was the A-Train busting up the middle and getting that extra two yards after contact, Fitz lowering his shoulder to run through a defender at the goal line, or Justin Johnson carrying a defender on his back 3 yards to pick up a first down. We wanted this game and it showed.
- Yes there were a couple drops, but for the most part I was very pleased with our WR corp as a whole Saturday night. They made some tough catches and also turned some short completions into long gains with some great running after the catch. Many feared with no Donald Gray we would struggle to move the ball in the air. Our WRs are showing that each game they are getting better and the future is looking not as bleak from the WR standpoint.
- Our special teams is one of our greatest strengths this year. I say again. Our special teams is one of our greatest strengths this year. Logan Cooke and Jace Christmann deserve way more praise then they receive. Cooke showed his full range of expertise with a 56 yard bomb (Good for the Brand) that flipped the field early in the game and then the wedge game was on full display as he had 2 punts pin them inside the 20 with one being at the 2 yard line. I called for him to be great for us to have a chance to win and he delivered in all aspects.
- We sacked Jalen Hurts 5 times. One of the most athletic QBs in the SEC and we were all around him all night. The effort from the entire defense cannot be overstated. Sure 24 points is a decent amount to give up but the effort and physicality was there. I mean 2 of their TDs were direct results of long pass plays to Ridley (he went out of bounds on his own).
- Jonathan Abram is a national treasure that is all.
- Just a lot to be proud of and shine in the Good column despite the result.
- That first play of the game. JUST A LITTLE MORE AIR UNDER THAT BALL FITZ. What a tone setter that could have been. Equivalent to the flea flicker UGA ran against us, we might could have shell shocked them and taken control of the game a lot earlier.
- Grantham must have watched “Remember the Titans” before this game because he clearly told his defense “we blitz all night”. Unfortunately, this strategy ran one play too long as we were snake bit by the jail break blitz and slant to Ridley on 3rd and long to put them in FG range and eventual TD to win the game. Would dropping back and just trying to keep them in front of them been a better strategy? It’s easy to say that now but in that moment, Jalen Hurts was rattled. The heavy blitz over the middle was working and in vintage Joe Lee Dunn fashion if it aint broke don’t fix it.
- 4th and 3, on the UA 42, tie ball game and Dan punts the ball. UGH. Again, it is really easy to be critical knowing what we know now but in that situation, I would have loved to seen Dan throw caution to the wind and go for it there. Dan played the last 10 mins very conservatively. He played not to lose instead of playing to win. Again, easy to be critical now and Dan called a wonderful game up to that point but I wanted Dan to go for it there. 4th and 3, we have to have a play designed to get that. Like in the movie “Semi-Pro”, we have to have the puke play. The play that when we are against the wall and have no idea what to do, we run the play that is ingrained in our DNA we know will work.
- The referees were garbage for both teams. Throwing hats that didn’t matter, bogus pass interference calls, and missed calls all over the field. Way to send the B-squad to Starkville SEC HQ.
- Nicky Fitz last heave into the student section. Not great.
The ugly of this game can just be that we lost. Plain and simple, we played a great game on Saturday night and deserved the W, but we didn’t get it. I hate it, you hate it, and all of MSU nation hates it. Not much else anyone can say about it.
Also, Dez Harris picked up an injury and Brandon Bryant picked up a nasty concussion late in the game; according to my friends who watched it on TV, they said Bryant might have thought he was on Mars while on the sideline he was so concussed. We need them to get healthy and ready for these last few games.
Bama week is over. Now, we move on to 2 very winnable games and are on the cusp of a 9 win season and a nice Florida based bowl game around New Years. There is still a lot to play for and Dan and the coaching staff will drive this fact home in the coming weeks. Arkansas is not a good football team but we will need to rebound on the road. Fayetteville has historically been a tough win for the Bulldogs but if we can just show the effort we should roll through them. Then it’s on the Egg Bowl week and our good friends up north come down for a visit. We will welcome them with smiles, some hot chocolate, and maybe even let them ring our cowbells they are so envious of perhaps. Let’s focus on Arkansas first boys. I would really rather just hear that dumb woo pig chant once at the beginning of the game and then no more if at all possible. Go Dawgs.