STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State head football coach Joe Moorhead met with the media earlier today to share his thoughts on last weekend’s game against No. 2 LSU and this weekend’s game in College Station, Texas, against Texas A&M.
Moorhead opened up the press conference by saying he was pleased with the team’s fight and energy during last week’s 36-13 loss to LSU.
“I was really excited about our energy, our fight and our competitiveness throughout the game for four quarters and I thought the kids did a real good job with that,” Moorhead said. “Coming off the Tennessee game that was something we stressed during the week -- for four quarters we were going to bow our back, bow our neck, stand toe to toe and fight and I thought we did that,” he said.
Moorhead said he and his staff looked at the game film on Sunday and he was disappointed in the amount of missed opportunities from the team. He pointed to the interception thrown by freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader in the second quarter that resulted in a 60-yard touchdown reception for LSU as a spot MSU could have made Saturday’s game a bit closer.
“Watching the film there were a ton of missed opportunities throughout that game in all three phases that would have made it a much closer game,” he said. “And I’m not saying it would’ve been a win but, and it isn’t coach speak, there were a bunch of plays that were left on the field,” Moorhead said.
Offensively, the Bulldogs have seen a decline in the running game. After running for over 100 yards in each of the first four games, junior running back Kylin Hill has less than 100 yards rushing in the last three games combined. Moorhead doesn’t see the lack of a run game as a negative thing because they have gotten offensive production from the passing game.
“I want as much as anybody for him to be able to come out and rush for 150 or 200 yards a game,” Moorhead said. ”But when you’re playing against the defenses in this league, in a line of scrimmage football league, there are going to be games when he doesn’t hit 150 or doesn’t hit 100. Maybe he hits 50.”
That’s when he expressed that he’s excited about what he’s seen from the passing game, especially against LSU, but now he wants consistency.
“When the run game gets slowed or shut down, and that happens sometimes in this league, you got to be able to throw the ball,” Moorhead said. “And right now, I’m feeling much more comfortable if that gets shut down we’re going to work to get it going, but you also have to be able to pass the ball with confidence, efficiency and effectiveness. I think we’re growing toward that,” he said.
Shrader will be making his second-consecutive start this Saturday against an Aggies defense that has allowed 200.71 passing yards a game compared to 135.3 yards rushing per game
Reaching the six wins needed for a bowl game is a topic many Bulldog fans have discussed, but it’s something that Moorhead expressed on Monday that he doesn’t want he or his team to focus on.
“With our approach, I don’t want them thinking about a bowl game or six wins. We gotta get No. 4, and that’s what we’re most focused on.”
Now looking at this week’s 11 a.m. game, Moorhead says one of the biggest things the team has to do differently is start fast.
“I think we have to start fast,” Moorhead said. “We can’t come out there and afford to not be excited, not be energized, not be executing for a quarter and a half and next thing you know you’re down a touchdown or two,” he said.
Kickoff between State and Texas A&M is set for 11 a.m. CT on Saturday at Kyle Field. It will be televised by SEC Network. The Aggies are listed close to a 10-point favorite by many odds makers, but Mississippi State has won three in a row against Texas A&M and four of the last five.