When the Mississippi St. Bulldogs took on the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2016, Ethan Lee took a joke I was trying to make on Twitter during the Kentucky game and made it into a movement among the Mississippi State fans. The passing game wasn’t working so well, so at 6:55 on October 22, I tweeted this.
Always run, never pass.— Justin M. Strawn (@Justin_M_Strawn) October 23, 2016
And then Ethan wrote the article that turned #AlwaysRunNeverPass into the movement that dominated Mississippi State’s last two games of the season. Last year, it carried the Bulldogs to a bowl game, even if it did need an assist from the team’s APR. This year, #AlwaysRunNeverPass can lead the Bulldogs to the best bowl available to SEC teams outside the New Year’s Six Bowls, the Citrus Bowl.
Just like last season, Arkansas is really bad defensively. They are especially bad against the run. The Razorbacks give up 191 yards per game on the ground and 5.3 yards per carry. Opponents of Arkansas average just a couple of ticks under 36 points per game. Conversely, Mississippi State averages 250 yards per game on the ground and scores almost 33 points a game.
Last season, the Bulldogs couldn’t pull off the win against Arkansas, but lets be honest, that was more about Peter Sirmon. Mississippi State NEVER made Arkansas punt last year. Just a few stops and the Bulldogs win that game, but the defense was hopeless under the direction of Peter Sirmon.
But against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs saw the work of art that #AlwaysRunNeverPass could be when employed against the right team. Mississippi State attempted just 17 passes in the Egg Bowl in 2016 and ran the ball 47 times. In those 47 carries, the Bulldogs had 457 rushing yards and averaged 9.7 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns. Nick Fitzgerald ran 14 times for 258 yards, a whopping 18.4 yards per carry.
Just like there is nothing to suggest the Bulldogs won’t be able to run at will on the Razrobacks, the same can be said of the Rebels. Ole Miss is giving up 253.1 yards on the ground per game and 5.7 yards per carry. Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams need to pound the football down the throats of the Ole Miss defense.
If the Bulldogs keep it simple and trust their dominant rushing attack, they shouldn’t have any issue winning the final two games of the season. And in doing so, they would be in prime position to send themselves to Orlando for New Year’s. Anyone up for a trip to Disney World?