Oct 24, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs running back LaDarius Perkins (27) advances the ball during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs win the game against Kentucky Wildcats 28-22. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Game Review

Kendrick Market may have saved Dan Mullen’s job. As I wrote earlier in the week, I thought losing to Kentucky probably should be the end of the line for Mullen. Not because I’m sick of him or don’t like him, but due to the fact that there is obvious heat on him to get the job done and a clear candidate to replace him. Well, not much changed in this game from what we’ve seen the last two years, but the Bulldogs did pull it off to get a win and that is very important.

Defense

I’ll start by saying the defense has done an excellent job the last two games of closing it out in crunch time. It didn’t happen against Auburn but it did against Bowling Green and Kentucky. That is akin to winning the game on a last minute offensive drive – just not as glamerous.

The defense also did a really good job of getting off the field on 3rd down. They started off poorly in the 1st quarter, but ended the game holding the Wildcats to just 4 of 18. They did allow a couple of 4th down conversions, but I thought they were solid on 3rd down. Granted, this was the worst 3rd down offense in the SEC, it was still good to see.

On the final drive we were in the nickel package at one point and this was our secondary: Will Redmond, Kivon Coman, Kendrick Market, Cedric Jiles and Jamerson Love. That’s essentially 3 freshman, one sophomore and one junior. Injuries and then Whitley’s bonehead ejection depleted that group but they got it done. The future is bright though, I feel really good about where they’ll be next year.

Denico Autry had his first sack of the year and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

We missed some tackles and didn’t pressure them a ton, but overall it was a solid defensive effort the whole night except UK’s 3rd quarter touchdown drive.

Offense

MSU’s offense was excellent on 3rd downs: 10 for 18 (56%). On the last drive, Prescott did a great job of keeping the chains moving. Ultimately there was a turnover on downs but if we had a field goal kicker he had already driven us down the field to a position to put the game away.

Our offensive line has been pretty disappointing. They aren’t horrible, but with the experience some of these guys have they should be better. Damian Robinson not panning out is a killer, especially with the injury to Justin Malone. We’ve got a former walk-on (Ben Beckwith) and a true freshman (Jamaal Clayborn) playing in this game. I know these guys were not highly recruited, but we’ve got to find a way to get some guys in here to play better, or get some better coaching. That unit is critical and we’re mediocre.

Malcolm Johnson is ultra talented and he shows you flashes at times but then drops several passes that are just killers. He did make some plays, however, and fortunately he didn’t drop the long touchdown on the first drive.

Chad Bumphis who? Jameon Lewis has picked up right where Bump left off. He is everywhere, and so dynamic. I’m all for getting the ball in his hands as much as possible – which we are doing a pretty good job of.

Excellent job to respond with a touchdown when the Wildcats made it a two point game. They nearly got an onside kick recovery but we caught a break and responded. That was pretty much the only offensive bright spot of the second half. Great catch by Artimus Samuel across the middle of the field on 2nd & 18 to get the 1st down.

Dak Prescott is a ball player. I’m so pumped to see what he can do in the years to come. I’m glad we’re sticking with him because I think he gives us our best chance to win right now. I hate it for Tyler, but it is what it is. Hopefully we can make a bowl, and maybe Tyler can start and play that entire game as an appreciation for what he’s meant to the program.

On 3rd & 9 on the final drive, why did we throw the ball? 1. we’re tying to run clock 2. we know we’re not going to kick a field goal so it’s 4-down territory. Unless we’re thinking about pooch punting to pin them deep were should have run the ball to create 4th and short and force them to burn another time out. As it was, the incomplete pass stopped the clock and forced a 4th & 9 which lead to a sack and UK got the ball back near midfield with a timeout left.
General thoughts

Devon Bell – what is going on? Why in the world was he in the back of the endzone trying to punt when you have a Ray Guy nominated punter on your team? Then he muffs the punt for a safety. That safety gave Kentucky the opportunity to win the game on the final drive if they could’ve scored a touchdown. Oh, and his field goal kicking is atrocious.

We were very fortunate that UK was offsides on that on-side kick. It was 21-19 and they were gaining plenty of momentum. No one would have noticed if the guy was offsides had the ref not called it. That was a huge play, on the next drive MSU drove down the field goal and answered with a TD of their own.

Nick Griffin played a little fullback and I wouldn’t mind seeing him go to this role full time. I think this offense really needs a full back to block on 3rd down passing situations. Prescott was sacked 3 times in the 2nd half and they just went straight through the line. Perkins is back there some but he’s not really looking to block someone and the linebacker just comes straight through the line. Other times we’re 5 wide without a tailback. Prescott should throw it away when he’s out of the pocket, but still, put a back in there to give him some time. That has to be corrected.

The penalties were terrible, terrible, terrible. 8 of them for 82 yards. Nickoe Whitley, where is your head? If I were Mullen I’d suspend him for the South Carolina game. He’s got NFL potential and he’s throwing it in the trash with that mess.

Mullen trolls the media again – this week he said anyone who hasn’t played will likely redshirt. Then he proceeds to burn Artimus Samuel and Jamaal Clayborn’s redshirt. There have been A LOT of true freshman playing this year…I believe the count is up to 10.

2nd half troubles continue to plague the Bulldogs. Seven points is not going to get it down. During the time of the game in which games are won, we are not at our best, and that is a MAJOR problem.
Off the field 

Thursday was a perfect day weather wise. I went to the baseball scrimmage and you couldn’t have asked for better weather. Baseball season will be a lot of fun once again come spring. I like the golf carts the event staff have to take you wherever you need to go, we had a guy take us from the Library to Dudy Noble. That saved a lot of time and I’m not interested in burning many calories, ha.

The Junction was pretty sparse vs. Kentucky

The Junction was pretty sparse vs. Kentucky

We went to the Veranda afterwards for a post game meal. I wanted to hear Matt Wyatt’s thoughts on the game. Well, he was out in the bitter cold recording but they didn’t play the post game show over the speakers. What’s up with that? I’m sure they want to cater to the students who are drinking at the bar, but if you’re not gonna play it in the restaurant then why not just let him record in a warm studio somewhere?

I still can’t stand the video board. It just sucks the life out of the stadium. The crowd was pretty sparse as well. We need to STOP all Thursday night games, especially against opponents who aren’t that exciting to see. Apparently not enough of our students are hardcore football fans and want to stay in town instead of going home for “fall break” – I don’t get that but then again I run a blog about MSU athletics. It’s always been that way at State – students empty out of Starkville on the weekends.

Closing thoughts

It wasn’t pretty, but we did win. Kentucky played hard as this and the Vandy games are their best chances for SEC wins this year and they could smell their chance to win. It’s disappointing we weren’t sharper because we’ll need to be the next three weeks. 4-3 for the stretch run isn’t bad, but we’ve got plenty to correct to have a chance in those games and not get embarrassed. Hail State.

Tags: Kentucky Wildcats Mississippi State Bulldogs

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