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Three keys to victory vs. South Alabama

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The game against South Alabama on Saturday offers Mississippi State its first road test of the season. We'll look at three things the Bulldogs must do to come out victorious.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Shut down Shavarez Smith

The wide receiver put up some big time stats in 2013. He caught 50 passes for 940 yards with six touchdowns. Smith averaged close to 19 yards per reception, something the Bulldogs can not let happen on Saturday. He had twice the yardage that the second leading receiver behind him had, so Smith is obviously going to be targeted more often than not by quarterback Brandon Bridge. These stats seem eerily similar to the ones we gave you for UAB receiver J.J. Nelson. We talked about how the Mississippi State secondary would need to not get burned by him on the deep route. Well they did, to the tune of 123 yards on 3 receptions. Hopefully the second time's a charm, and the psycho defense can contain this weeks big play receiver.

Keep the run game in check

The Jaguars ran the ball 50 times last week compared to just 25 passes. Running back Jay Jones eclipsed 100 yards and had a solid first game performance. By all indications they will want to do the majority of their damage on the ground, which should favor the Bulldogs. Of course we also said this last week before the Blazers came out throwing bombs all day long. At the very least, shutting down the run game will make South Alabama one dimensional. The Mississippi State defensive line has done a good job in the first two games getting off their blocks and hitting the running back. They will need to do the same this week against the Jaguars' rushing attack.
If they're able to run the ball effectively it could be a long day for the Mississippi State defense.

Build a lead before rotating players

Dan Mullen's rotating quarterbacks has caused several groans throughout the Mississippi State fan base the past two weeks. When Williams has came in the game, the offense has stalled. In a road game that could end up closer than people expect, it will be important to leave Dak in until a comfortable lead is built up. This goes for all positions, not just quarterback. The 1A and 1B idea has to die sooner or later. Getting backups experience is great, but not when the game is still on the line. Taking a loss is not worth getting players experience. Hopefully we see the starters play the first three quarters this week, and the mass rotation is limited until the fourth.