The Mississippi State Bulldogs looked very different against LSU, compared to how they looked against North Carolina State. Keep in mind that North Carolina State upset Clemson.
By Matt Zemek
The Wolfpack are an erratic team, but they are not a bunch of talentless chumps. Mississippi State throttled North Carolina State and appeared to have taken a big step forward as a program, but that forward momentum was thrown away with an ugly loss to LSU. The game was close on the scoreboard, but LSU had carved out a comfortable fourth-quarter lead. The performance of the MSU offense was disappointing not only on its own merits, but in light of the fact that a year ago, MSU put 44 on the board against the Tigers in Baton Rouge. This was a big step backward. Now, Mississippi State tries to regroup against a Texas A&M team which is very beatable, and moreover, was just beaten by Arkansas.
1 – Line play
The Arkansas formula for victory against Texas A&M started with line play. Sam Pittman’s ability to bring out the best in his offensive and especially defensive lines was the whole key to smothering Texas A&M’s offense. Mississippi State’s defensive line did a solid job against LSU. A few crucial mistakes on offense and special teams destroyed the Bulldogs versus the Bayou Bengals, but the defense played well enough to win. If that effort carries over to this A&M game and can be replicated for 60 minutes, the Bulldogs will certainly have a chance to win this game.
2 – Will Rogers cleaning things up
Will Rogers’ ball security was terrible against LSU. That lack of concentration and focus simply can’t be tolerated or viewed as remotely acceptable. When Mississippi State has a promising drive going and the game is up for grabs, there isn’t room for error – not in the SEC, not against formidable opposition. Rogers has to finish drives against A&M and not flinch in the heat of battle. Easy to say, harder to do.
3 – Take away the Aggies’ running game and make Zach Calzada win
You see what we all see: Zach Calzada is riding the struggle bus for Texas A&M. The backup to the injured Haynes King is having a problem generating any sort of offense. One 67-yard run was all the Aggies mustered against Arkansas. The A&M passing attack is nonexistent. It gets nothing down the field. It is not potent or dangerous. MSU can load up the tackle box to take away the run, and make sure QB scrambles aren’t part of the equation, either. Making Calzada win this game from the pocket is what Mississippi State’s defense has to do.