LET’S TALK HAILSTATE
The Mississippi State Bulldogs looked very impressive Saturday in their first road game against the Kansas State Wildcats. This game brought some hype late last week with the first appearance of Nick Fitzgerald to the playing field and going against a College Football Hall of Fame coach in Bill Snyder. Even though the game panned out to be a somewhat easy contest for the Bulldogs, there were plenty of opportunities for new coach Joe Moorhead to celebrate some of the positive aspects of the game and identify some areas that are still lacking and need to be addressed.
Luckily, Mississippi State has another non-conference game this coming weekend against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns in Starkville to try and clean up some of the negative aspects of the first two games. So without further ado LET’S TALK HAIL STATE, the Good the Bad and the Ugly of week two!
Always start with The GOOD!
There were plenty of good things to talk about from this game, starting with the running game. Kylin Hill has exceeded all of my expectations as tail back and I really bragged about him in previous articles. Point blank Hill was a beast against Kansas State, rushing for 211 yards and two touchdowns in 17 attempts, and averaging over 12 yards a carry. Those numbers are insane when you consider the Bulldogs were not playing a FCS program but a historically good power five opponent. Must I remind you that Kansas State was ranked 13th in the country last year in run defense and 11th in the country in 2016. The Wildcats are not your average defensive line but one of the best in the country over the past few years. Kylin Hill gets my MVP nod this week against the Wildcats.
Next; well this goes without saying but they deserve the love, our Offensive line is legit and did a great job the entire game in both blocking and protecting. I also didn’t see any fall-off this week in the rotation which was better than last week, showing positive progression on the front lines.
The Defensive front was just as impressive this week. If I had to think of one word to describe our front seven it would be Stingy, they don’t like to share yards with anyone. I can’t wait to see them in conference play in two weeks against Kentucky. The defensive backfield had a pretty good day but is still a work in progress. I would like to see them get their head around faster on some of those deep routes. All in all they started the game with a good break-up and played much better this week.
Another thing that was great to see this week was a healthy Nick Fitzgerald. It seemed pretty clear that his ankle was 100% for his first game back to action. Fitzgerald rushed for 159 yards on 19 attempts which shows he is still dangerous on the ground. I saw him brought down several times by that ankle with no issues. Nicks second part of the game was not so impressive which brings me to the Bad portion of this article
Yes State fans; Nick Fitzgerald did not have the best day through the air and several people are talking about it. On Saturday he was 11 for 27 for 154 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Clearly this is not his best game, but it was his first in over 10 months without playing in an actual game and with actual contact. In addition, he really was never a prolific passer last year but was very effective in our offense.
I do believe he will get better in this new offense and through the air. Yet without a doubt I believe he is our best option at his position he just needs to put some touch on the ball and keep doing everything else just like he’s been doing it. Fitzgerald will break several records this season and it will not be because he wasn’t a great passer, but rather because he is a great quarterback in a run pass option (RPO) system.
To be honest, after what I saw last season with his ankle and how it looked, I am just grateful that we have the opportunity to watch him play again knowing he will do everything he can to win for the Hail State Nation!
How about the UGLY!
This was easy this week, and that would be the officiating in this game. I have never seen so many crap calls in one game, and the fumble turned into an incomplete pass takes the cake. Where do they get these ref’s and what was the deal with all of the reviews? It seems like every time State made a play they had to review it, it was just plain crazy.
Another ugly situation this weekend was the targeting call on Johnathan Abrams. This guy has no fear on the football field and he is a key player for the Bulldog defensive backfield. Unfortunately, we will be without his services this weekend so I would like to share some information from NCAA rules (Rules 2-27-14 and 9-6).
The rules start out with something like no player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder. Jonathan, please get a copy and memorize it because you are too valuable of a player to be setting out of any game due to the failure to comply with these rules.
By the way, I am starting to see a pattern here with the targeting hits and if I can see it so can others like NFL scouts. Just Saying!