You might have noticed that confidence surrounding the football program is starting to wane. A thumping on the road against a nationally ranked opponent that was preceded by two very underwhelming victories at home will do that. The bandwagon for Mississippi State football has all but been abandoned. So what is it going to take to get it filled again?
A Big Win
This has been rehashed several times, so I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it, but going into College Station this weekend and pulling off a monumental upset would be a pretty good place to start. My only hope of a victory is that Texas A&M plays defense like most Pee Wee Football teams. The last thing we need is to get thrashed.
Compete in the Second Half
There is a distinct formula to Mississippi State games right now against quality opponents. Look solid early, hang around until halftime, and make a mess of things in the second half. It has been that way in all four losses. I’m beginning to believe that the poor second half performances are becoming more of a mental hurdle than anything else for the players. Being competitive in the second half would be one step towards giving some people enthusiasm about the program again.
Make Big Plays
We almost never have a game changing play. There are very few moments in the game where you get a feeling that Mississippi State has completely shifted momentum and is ready to make a run at a quality opponent or put away an inferior one. Big plays are what gives the fans in the stands an adrenaline rush if you are at home or completely silences the crowd on the road. We have to start making big plays.
Run the Ball
For all that is good and holy, can we please run the football? We switched to Prescott because of his ability to run the ball, and we just don’t do it. I get that we got behind and had to start throwing, but that would have been the perfect time to switch to Russell. I like that he was showing confidence in Prescott after the mistakes he made, but until we got down by more than three scores, we might could have gotten back in the game with a more consistent passing arm, and Prescott hasn’t developed his throwing skills enough to where teams will respect it when they know we have to throw it. Running the ball also is going to be our best defense. Our secondary has some talent, but they are getting killed because of their lack of experience. The best way to keep the other team at bay is to keep them off the field.
Mullen Needs to Find His Enthusiasm
The one thing that a lot of people seemed to like at the end of the first half was how fired up Mullen was on the sideline when we were squandering a chance to score at the end of the half. Most didn’t like why he was fired up, but we saw the enthusiastic coach who roamed our sidelines for all of 2009 and 2010. The iconic image of Dan Mullen has become him chewing on a laminated play sheet on the sideline. That isn’t the coach that most fell in love with his first two years here. I think Mullen is a good coach, but as the pressure has mounted, his demeanor and coaching style has become increasingly conservative. That isn’t what brought him his early success and it isn’t going to bring success now.
I know the Kentucky game was a Thursday night game and Fall Break for students, but if we add a lot of seats to our stadium and then can’t fill them because people have lost faith in the program, we are going to be right back where we were when Croom left. Nobody wants to go there. Empty seats in the stadium are a killer for a football program. We have to avoid that.