Let’s Talk Hail State
It’s official, the Bulldogs are headed into the final four game stretch of the 2018 football season and without a doubt the toughest match-up to date against Alabama. Currently Mississippi State has a 6-3 record 2-3 in conference and ranked 16th in the country after securing their ninth straight Bowl appearance bid this past Saturday. Being bowl eligible is great, but many State fans will always wonder what this season could have been under different circumstances. As for me, I still think that State is on an upward climb and this season is another step in the right direction for that to happen. It is nearly impossible for a program to replace an entire coaching staff and not suffer some growing pains. The last two weeks have shown the capabilities of this team along with what all Mississippi State fans, players, and recruits can look forward to in the future for the Mississippi State football program and That future starts now in preparing for Alabama, So; LETS TALK HAIL STATE; the GOOD the BAD and the UGLY (La. Tech).
One of the greatest things I have seen from this team this year is their ability to handle adversity. Two weeks ago most football analysts pretty much wrote the Bulldogs off, they had already determined that our Quarterback needed to be benched and our coach along with his staff should be sent packing. I even thought about the latter of those two, but realized that it is just as hard for a coach as it is for the players in these types of transitions. The Bulldogs have handled this well and that is a statement about their character and determination to succeed. Good Job!
For the second straight week in a row Nick Fitzgerald passed the ball very well, throwing for three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. I really can’t explain how anyone can go from what we saw against LSU to what we’ve seen these past two weeks. It is not only the completion rate or even the touchdown passes but rather the touch on the ball. The pass to Kylin Hill over three defenders was on another level and the catch by Hill put him in another class for NFL Scouts. I MEAN DAMN!
Last week I knocked the Punt game pretty good for having a 37 yard per punt average on the season. That is a terrible stat unless you are an Ole Miss Black Bear Land Shark, who have shown they have no standards over the past few years. SNAP! This past Saturday Tucker Day averaged nearly 41 yards per punt for a great improvement. Keep It Up!
Do I even need to mention the Defense? This group is unbelievable, after the victory against La Tech, and the bulldog defense has only allowed two touchdowns in the past 51 drives from opposing offenses and a total of nine touchdowns for the entire year. Great defense and the best Bama will face all year.
On to the BAD:
This week’s bad is focused on one major area of the offense that really did not exist against La Tech, and that was the run game. The more the passing game improves, the less we see of the run game and that is just plain wrong. Hey, I like to see those long pass plays and the possibility of a quick strike offense, but I also know that it’s not worth the paper the play was designed on without a productive run game. Please get our backs more involved and I mean outside of the passing game, like in-between the tackles old style football type run game. Like the one we used against Bama last year, yep that kind of run game.
What is ugly? How about Mississippi States inability to provide adequate pass protection for Nick in the pocket, I understand that this offensive line has been primarily a run block line for the past nine years, but those days are gone. One thing that needs to improve is the first step from both of our offensive tackles along with Fitzgerald’s ability to identify the blitz and feel pressure from behind. If this team is going to be truly successful in the pass game the O-line must be able to protect the quarterback. That’s Right!
This weekend the Bulldogs will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide. It has been ten years since Mississippi State beat the Tide, which was Nick Saban’s first year at Alabama. In all of those ten years I would say this is the best Bama team I’ve seen, especially in regards to their offense. I will also say that this is the best Mississippi State defense I have ever seen, EVER, and I became a true State Fan back in the eighties so I have seen a few good teams. I look forward to the Alabama game because usually State has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Currently everyone is predicting Bama to win, the spread is over 24 points and we are on the road. Many fans just want to get past this game and move one to Arkansas and Ole Miss. I on the other hand think this is the game of the year and the best opportunity for the Bulldogs to go out and make a statement. In football, like no other sport, the underdog is the most dangerous, especially when that underdog has the best defense in the country. In addition, the Bulldogs seem to have found their identity on the offensive side of the ball as well. So since everyone already knows that we are going to lose this weekend, then what the hell? Let’s just go into Bryant-Denny Stadium and do the unthinkable and wax that Elephant Ass. Just Saying!