Finishing games – it’s kind of important. It’s something Mississippi State has struggled with recently.
It’s a bit strange that this could be an issue for a program that is 31-1 under Dan Mullen when leading heading into the 4th quarter, but it is. While his percentage as a baseball closer would be exceptional, there have been too many near blown-saves and not enough come-from-behind victories.
- Oklahoma State – 0 points
Alcorn State – 14 points
- Auburn – 7 points
Troy – 17 points
- LSU – 3 points
- Bowling Green – 0 points
The Alcorn State and Troy game were blowouts and MSU was still moving the ball with backups in the game, but I’m not sure how much finishing they really did….and by that I mean playing a full 60 minutes of their absolute best effort.
Zero points in two different games so far? Only 3 points vs. LSU? Only a touchdown vs. Auburn, which came on the first drive on the 2nd half – so nothing after that? That’s unacceptable.
Not just winning big games, to win games period you have to play a full 60 minutes. Remember “relentless effort for 60 minutes”? In the 4th quarter this team needs to be getting stronger against lesser competition and still playing with SEC teams. This isn’t 2009 – this group has the depth to compete (or they should). Does it come down to not playing to a standard as I mentioned last week.
Is it the 2nd half adjustments or lack there of? What are we doing in the locker room?
The debate is over. @MacGrifferous just favorited a tweet of mine from the 1st half. Okay…so that’s what they do at halftime. Fair enough.
— Matthew Stevens (@matthewcstevens) October 13, 2013
Checking twitter? Really? (I don’t condone Stevens tweeting that, it’s just another attempt to degrade MSU as per his usual, but it serves its purpose here).
This isn’t a new problem. Look at 2012:
- Northwestern – 10 points
- Ole Miss – 7 points
Arkansas – 28 points
- LSU – 7 points
- Texas A&M – 13 points
- Alabama – 7 points
In the A&M and Bama game those were the only points MSU scored in a blowout loss. We scored 28 against UPig and guess what, we won!
State has to get better in the 2nd half of games. Are they prepared to play a full four quarters against Kentucky? I’m talking about start to finish, get a lead and maintain that lead if not make it bigger – not let them come back and make the score respectable or nearly win it. Finish the game.
Not only has MSU allowed teams to get back into games but the 2nd half is where they’ve continually lost games after playing a tight 1st half. Here are the half time scores in MSU’s last six losses:
- down 28-23 to LSU
- down 14-13 to Auburn
- down 7-3 to Oklahoma State
- down 13-10 to Northwestern
- 17-17 vs. Ole Miss
- down 17-10 to LSU
All of those games MSU was within a touchdown a halftime, and only one of them was a full touchdown. Yet in every game except Auburn the Bulldogs lost by a minimum of two touchdowns.
Here is a list of all the 2nd halfs MSU has outscored the opponent since the start of the 2011 season..
- 2013 vs. Alcorn State, 14-7
- 2013 vs. Troy, 17-0
- 2012 vs. UPig, 28-0
- 2012 vs. MTSU, 35-0
- 2012 vs. Auburn, 21-7
- 2012 vs. Jackson State, 21-3
- 2011 vs. Ole Miss, 10-3
- 2011 vs. UT Martin, 27-14
- 2011 vs. UAB, 21-0
- 2011 vs. UGA, 7-3
- 2011 vs. Memphis, 28-7
So 11 out of 32 games (34%). If you take out FCS games it’s 8 of 29 (28%). If you take out all non-conference games it’s 4 of 18 (22%). I don’t even want to get into who those four games were against or how it happened.
The facts are this: MSU has been bad in the 2nd half and they must get better. We’ve won the last two years against Kentucky but they outscored us 10-7 in 2011 and it was a 7-7 draw in 2012. If the Bulldogs don’t come to play in the 2nd half on Thursday night, they could be in trouble. Things could go from not great to terrible – they’ll skip right over bad.
A strong 2nd half is needed this week from the Dawgs. It’s not just to win a game, but to make a statement about where this program is. Four quarters, all you got.