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Mississippi State football: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly vs. La. Tech

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Recapping the La. Tech game and looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup against N.C. State.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulldogs found a way to win on Saturday despite their less than stellar performance on both offense and defense for most of the game.

So, the Bulldogs are sitting at 1-0 on the season headed into Week 2 with much to talk about. Either way, a win is a win, and the Bulldogs now move on to host the North Carolina State Wolfpack on Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi, with a kickoff time of 6 p.m. CT, which will be televised on ESPN2.

So, what do the Bulldogs need to expect from N.C. State this Saturday? The Wolfpack are a run-first offense that can sustain a drive on the ground with their two primary rushers in Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person, both of whom eclipsed 100 yards on 16 carries. Knight put up a team-high 163 yards (10.2 yards per carry).

N.C. State’s run game combined for four rushing touchdowns in in total. If that doesn’t open your eyes, maybe the passing game will, which put up 232 yards on 17 completions and two touchdowns against the University of South Florida and walked away with 45-0 victory.

Bottom line, this team can move the ball both on the ground and through the air, so expect the Wolfpack to put points on the board. This is not going to be an easy game to win, and the Bulldogs will need to play a much cleaner game this week.

So, let’s talk Hail State football with, “The Good, the bad and the Ugly!”

The GOOD!

Even though the Bulldogs showed some positive improvement in both the run game and the passing game, it was not consistent enough to be considered good, at least not in the first three quarters. Yet, the fourth-quarter comeback and putting up 21 points in under nine minutes showed what is possible in this scheme and that was very good to see.

I’m not only talking about the execution, which was very impressive, but rather the mentality of the team on both sides of the ball to not quit when looking at an almost certain defeat.

Another good, in my opinion, was running backs Jo’quavious Marks with 71 yards on 12 carries and Dillion Johnson with 12 yards on two carries. Both backs averaged around six yards an attempt. Johnson left the game early due to an injury, but this shows that this offense can run the ball effectively, which would greatly support a pass-heavy scheme in being less predictable. I will carry this topic over to the bad.

The BAD!

As I was saying above, the run game is a compliment to this pass-heavy offense, but I still don’t believe the Bulldogs are using it to their advantage. What I am trying to say is, show some different looks out of the backfield, such as two-back and split back set ups. Make the defense know their assignments and give them multiple looks with our running backs both on the ground and in the passing game.

I think the Bulldogs could control the clock more by using the run game to slow down the game or wear down the defense when needed. State does not in any way control the clock nor try to wear down the defense.

In addition, I swear Mike Leach has the same playbook from 20 years ago when the passing game in college football was not as common as it is today. His play sheet looks like a 3-by-5 card in his hand. I remember when “Dan the Man” Mullen, or as I liked to call him, “Quasimodo,” use to carry around a laminated dictionary on the sidelines, which was also bad because he had to call timeouts just to call in a play (Alabama 2014 let the clock run out trying to call in a play with two timeouts left). Moving On!

The Ugly

Last week, I spoke about a few things that needed to change from last year to have a winning season and another bowl appearance. Well, those items are still ugly.

First, the turnovers. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times, three fumbles and one pick-six for good measure. This must stop if there is any hope for a winning season. Yes, the Bulldogs will throw the ball around and there will be some interceptions, but the Bulldogs have to stop the bleeding in this area.

Next area of serious concern is the offensive line. This area was ugly last year, and it looks to have carried over to this season, and it’s not just the blocking, but also the penalties. Not going to throw any names out there, but I heard the Nos. 67 and 69 so many times I thought that was the score. The offensive line has got to do better starting this weekend.

Last, I know the defense is better that what they showed against Louisiana Tech, and I put them here because I know they are one of the best units in the Southeastern Conference and it was UGLY to see them play the way they did Saturday. It is a must for them to get their act together and fast against N.C. State.

So, this week I’m making my prediction based on my confidence in this team’s ability rather than last week’s performance. State should come out and show that it is a different team than last year and gets the win.

Prediction Week 2:

Mississippi State: 35

N.C. State: 31

GOD BLESS, HAIL STATE and GO DAWGS!!!