Well... that wasn’t what I was expecting. The 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl was a shocking surprise to most MSU fans, especially this one. I apologize to this Mississippi State football team for not having much faith in them, but man... that was fun.
Let’s get started with the defensive side of the ball. First off, the defensive line showed up and showed out. Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat were everywhere this game. They did all they could to contain THE LAMAR JACKSON, but the most impressive aspect of their game was how they always had pressure on him. When Jackson would go back to pass, the defensive line was either in his face or he was getting sacked. Now, the defensive backs, which I have harped on the entire year, played great. Dantzler and McLaurin were the two main playmakers. McLaurin’s three interceptions were spectacular. Dantzler, who’s name I’ve barely heard all season long, made all kinds of plays. Defense won us this ball game and I thought it would be the reason that we got dominated. Several different defensive players played amazing this game, but if I had to give out a “defensive player of the game” I’d give it to Mark McLaurin. The kid played his heart out and if you pick off the former Heisman trophy winner three times then you deserve it.
Offensively, I’m guessing you already know who I’ll choose as the “offensive player of the game.” That’s right... Keytaon Thompson. With Mississippi State’s starting QB, Nick Fitzgerald, out due to an ankle injury, KT had to step in and become a leader quickly. As an MSU fan, I could not have asked for anything better from the true freshmen quarterback. KT accounted for 274 yards of total offense, 3 TD, and only 1 INT. The interception was sort of expected. Considering this kid was playing high school football last fall, he had one hell of a performance. The big question has been will he compete with Nick Fitzgerald for starting QB next season? Compete... yes. Win the starting position? Maybe not, but there’s no doubt that KT would look great in Moorhead’s offense. Also, Aeris Williams’ 88 yards on the ground seemed to help KT control his game. The offense was moving the ball pretty easily, which that may be because of our SEC talent on the offensive line... and we’re returning 5 starting offensive lineman.
Lastly, the future for this team may be the brightest we’ve ever seen going into another season. If Montez Sweat stays for his senior season, the defensive line will be dangerous. With two quarterbacks who could both see playing time next season, the offense will undoubtedly be able to move the ball. This 2018 Mississippi State football team has potential to do something special next season.