Well, that was not ideal! The good thing, though, is that our friends from Oxford set the bar so low for disappointment earlier in the day that a 49-34 loss that wasn't really that close doesn't feel all that bad! Thanks, Hugh!
Mississippi State started slow against the Tech triple option tonight, and despite a miraculous finish to the first half, they simply weren't able to slow down the ground game as Georgia Tech rolled up 452 yards rushing. The dive play KILLED MSU, and I simple felt hopeless (as I'm sure Benardrick did on the field) watching as they ran it over, and over, and over, and over: each time working just as well as the last. And that slow, methodical driving was only interrupted by big plays by GT QB Justin Thomas who was just one of two Tech players with three touchdowns on the night. Enough wallowing in this misery, here's three things we learned tonight and then I'm out to go yell at my neighbor kids for shooting too many fireworks.
Three things we learned
1. So, that triple option... As I typed this up, Georgia Tech just ran the dive for another eight-yard gain. Seriously, what an impressive thing to witness when it's working at full capacity. Unfortunately we were watching it happen against us, but still, the triple option was impressive tonight. Mississippi State seemed to have things figured out -- relative at least to how they defended the option for the first quarter -- but in the second half, Paul Johnson did what he did best. Tech shifted to a simple dive play, and MSU absolutely could not stop it, as Tech ran obliterated State's defense in the second half, eventually pulling away. The Yellow Jackets finished with -- let me pause here for emphasis -- FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY TWO YARDS RUSHING. Yes, you read that correctly. That was the name of the game as MSU simply couldn't stop them and couldn't keep up the pace on offense themselves. Well done, GT.
2. So long, Josh Robinson earlier today we found out that tonight's game would be Josh Robinson's last in a maroon and white uniform, and I'm more than sad to see him go. He was a huge part of State's success this season, and he will leave big (bowling) shoes to fill in 2015. Even with this being his last game, unfortunately MSU never worked him into the gameplan, as he finished his final collegiate game with 75 yards rushing and no touchdowns. Nevertheless, thank you Josh for everything.
3. MSU's offense has a bright future in 2015 It became apparently at a certain point in the second half that MSU was not going to win. Tech was two touchdowns up, and the way they were working on offense, State was never going to stop them when they eventually got the ball back. That meant that the rest of the game for State was all about putting up some more yards to cap things off, and they were able to do so, scoring 14 points in the final quarter to close the final gap to 15. MSU actually out-gained GT 605-577, but they turned the ball over twice in the early going that wound up proving costly.
There were some positives to take away on offense, starting with Fred Ross. Ross has a really, really good game, highlighted by this hail mary catch as time expired before halftime:
He would finish with 102 yards receiving and the touchdown. Bear Wilson and Joe Morrow (who had a really good game) joined him with 100+ yards on the night as the Bulldogs passed for 453 yards total. The best part about all those numbers is that all three of those guys and Dak will be back next year. Yes, MSU will have to fill some gaps up front, but the bulk of the specialty players will return next year, providing for a LOT of optimism going into next fall for us State fans.
Look, this obviously isn't how you want to cap off a great season. MSU stumbled down the finish after a 9-0 start, but overall, this was a really, really great year. There is a lot of young talent returning, and with the right defensive coordinator hire, this team could push to be at the top of the polls again next year. We've had a taste of it and now we want more. Thanks to Dan, Dak, all the seniors, and the entire team for a fun 2014 campaign.