After a few weeks of thought, reflection and several cases of Covid-19, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are still trying to find some form of continuity on both sides of the ball. Since the Alabama game, this football program has been in the spotlight, and not really in a positive way, if you know what I mean. For example, we have had several players over the past few weeks either opt out of the season due to COVID-19 related issues or players just deciding to leave the program for good. No matter what the reason, it has been tough on all the players and the fan base alike, but this past week could be a small sign of good things to come. I hope that positive momentum can continue into next Saturday’s game at Ole Miss because this is one game State fans tend to take personnel and want to win above all else. So, let’s talk Hail State football with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Week 9 against Georgia,
From my perspective, this was the best game the Bulldogs have played this season. It was the most complete performance as well. Freshman quarterback Will Rogers has clearly separated himself from senior K.J. Costello, and it seems pretty clear he will get the starting nod from head coach Mike Leach moving forward.
Rogers had a solid outing, completing 41 of his 52 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown. Yes, he got away with a few here and there, but when you run an offense that throws the ball over 83% of the time, you have a much higher chance of interceptions. All in all, Rogers has shown great poise, control and has the accuracy needed to be successful in this offense.
For the first time this year, the Bulldogs actually had an effective run game that not only produced some positive yardage but also made the offense less predictive. Freshman running back Dillon Johnson is making his mark on the offensive side of the ball. He reminds me of Josh Robinson from the 2014 team. Robinson played like a bowling ball with his size and low center of gravity, which allowed him to plow through defenders that others can’t.
Yes, this game was very promising, and hopefully it gives all Bulldogs fans a small glimpse of what we can expect for future of this program under Leach. I know it made the recruiting trail a little bit easier moving forward.
Giving up the big plays!
The Bulldogs defense has shown up in every single game this season. Even with the loss of a few key players, the defense is solid. In the first half of Saturday’s game, the Bulldogs only allowed 12 yards on the ground from a team that prides itself on the run game. I think Georgia would have been more successful trying to run the ball through a brick wall then trying to run on MSU Saturday night. Georgia finished with only 33 yards on the ground but recorded only 12 due to three sacks of quarterback JT Daniels.
Where the Bulldogs continue to struggle is in the secondary. The Bulldogs have been giving up one big play after another. It was those big plays in the passing game that allowed the Georgia offense to stay in the game and ultimately the win. Georgia finished the day with 401 yards passing, with a good chunk of that coming on just six plays. Georgia wide receiver Jermaine Burton had eight catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns, not a bad day for the Georgia wideout, to say the least. This is an area that I’m concerned about heading into this week’s matchup against Ole Miss. The rebels like to take their shots downfield, Mississippi State is going to have to find a way to defend those deep passes or it will get ugly.
Nothing really bad happened in this game. This was a very well executed game on both sides of the ball. It was also a very well coached game. While watching the game, things just seemed more positive and you could see a different attitude and mindset from the players that I haven’t see this season. I really like what I saw, and I hope what we all watched was not fluke. No matter what, Good, Bad or Ugly, this program and its fans are going to be here long after so many others will be long gone.
HAIL STATE and Go Dawgs!!!
Please give me your thoughts on what you think went well and not so well against Georgia.