As I type this blog, it still has yet to sink in how unbelievable it was Saturday night in Starkville. Have I seen upsets by the Bulldogs? Yes. Have I seen domination of a team that has been head and shoulders superior to us for the vast majority of the last quarter century? Never. With that, let’s dive into what you want to hear.
Can I just say “Mississippi State football as a whole” here? I mean what a full display by our Dawgs on Saturday. We played the most complete game against a quality opponent I have seen in many years of watching this team. From an offense that was clicking for four quarters to a suffocating defense that refused to let the LSU “O Canada” offense get into any rhythm to our special teams booming punts and nailing 40+ yarders, it was truly a night to remember. As I think about the “Good”, I don’t think I can be selfish enough to just highlight one thing so let’s just list it out:
Jeffery Simmons was a man among boys against LSU who is full of 5 star talents across the board. He blew up play after play and made life for his fellow lineman and defensive players easier. In the long line of Fletcher Cox, Chris Jones, Pernell McPhee, Denico Autry, and Kyle Love, Simmons will be the next 1st round defensive lineman in the NFL come the 2019 draft.
Not to be outdone by a dominating defensive performance (highlighted by the defensive line), our offensive line put a lot of questions to bed regarding chemistry and ability to get the run game going. It almost did not matter who was in the game as the holes and blocking assignments created acres of land for out backfield weapons to exploit.
All aboard the A-Train. Aeris Williams ran like a man with a chip on his shoulder. From trucking helpless safeties to leap frogging CBs, he was the workhorse of our offense with Fitz the same way Josh Robinson was a great compliment to Dak in 2014. The SEC would be wise to remember that combo from 2014 and be nervous for 2017.
Hey there Keith, where you been hiding? Keith Mixon (hey there Keith) played a beautiful possum the last 2 games, lulling defensive coordinators to sleep to allow him to have a breakout game against a talented Tiger’s secondary. He clearly has good chemistry with Nick Fitzgerald and with Gabe Myles out filled the role of safety valve along with great playmaking ability.
WE HAVE A KICKER AND HIS NAME IS JACE CHRISTMANN. (See Ethan Lee of FWTCT’s article for more info, its good stuff)
Saturday was nearly perfect and as I reflect back on it, I could only find one clear and obvious bad….my criticism of Nicky Fitz. It is no lie that I have been openly critical of Fitz in his first two games this year. I expected more from the face of MSU football this year and just wanted to see him be the leader of this team. Well, Fitz is clearly a fan of FWTCT and must have accidentally stumbled upon some of what I said, cause he balled out (Hand up…my bad Fitz)
In a game that called for Fitz to be smart with the ball, Fitz completed 15 of 23 passes with ZERO interceptions and was only sacked ONCE. While he was a little hesitant first half, he evolved with the game and was dynamic in the second half where he had his 2 TD passes. It was not just his TDs that impress me though as much as his presence in the pocket. He was clearly progressing through his reads and when the play wasn’t there….he threw it away. While some might complain about this, I would much rather Fitz throw the ball away and live to see another manageable down than risk a sack, or worse, forcing a tight throw and a pick.
With the run game as dominant as it is right now, Fitz just needs to continue to play his game of protect the ball and let the game come to him with the play action passes.
Much like finding a bad was rather difficult (again sorry Fitz), finding an ugly was just as tough until I thought about the late 3rd and early 4th quarter of the game. With 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Fitz hit Keith Mixon on a lovely play action deep ball that fooled every LSU player both past, present, and in the future. The score was 27-7 and our defense was feasting. It was as this point Dan clearly wanted to burn some clock and the read option became the play to run to try to do that. I do not have a problem with running the ball but when we are up 20 in the 4th quarter, I do not like my QB keeping the ball and taking some pretty tough hits including one in the middle of the 4th that was a nasty helicopter like tackle.
Fitz. You are the unquestioned leader of our offense and as a big fan of yours (last time, my bad for the last few weeks takes), please don’t take hits like this late in a 20 point blowout game. We have a stable of RBs from A-Train, Hill, Lee, and Gibson that were chomping at the bit to follow our O-Line for more yards. Just hand it off buddy.
Also, I just wanted to clear something up, I have heard some people who shall remain nameless, complaining about the ejections for LSU and how they weren’t fair and they had to replace them with freshman. Oh you mean the 5/4 star freshman from your top 5 and top 10 recruiting classes the last 2 years? Wow that must be so hard to have a guy go down and you can only replace him with a guy who was one of the top 150 players in the country coming out of high school. Please tell me more about your hardships. Rant over.
We have Georgia between the Hedges this week in a marquee SEC matchup. I trust Dan to keep the team focused and preach how to maintain this momentum on tough run of games coming up, seeing as it’s very similar to the LSU, A&M, and Auburn stretch we had in 2014. Hopefully, I can look forward to struggling to find Bad and Ugly things to say for weeks to come.