Nov 9, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen walks off the field against the Texas A

"This is Where I Thought We'd Be"

I’ve heard this one quite a few times this year. In defense of our current 4-5 record, folks who say, “I don’t see anything to get concerned about, this is where I thought we’d be”.

  1. You’ve got some low expectations
  2. It’s not all about wins and losses as much as it is the performance on the field

I’m really not overly concerned about our wins and losses at this point in our program’s journey. 4-5 is the minimum there’s no doubt, but we could all live with that if we’d seen a bit more out of this team: beating mediocre teams like we should, competing with good teams consistently. That hasn’t really been apart of the 4-5 record.

Before the season 80-90% of the people who follow the program closely remarked that this was Mullen’s most talented and deep team to date. Once some things went sideways the youth and injuries became a quick excuse for some. I’m not sure where this is coming from – there are 22 juniors on the team, and the purpose of a  “deep” team is to be able to overcome injuries. I’m not denying there is youth, and that the injuries, especially in the secondary, have hurt MSU but the bottom line is: this was not a rebuilding year.

At what point do we get to see a team that doesn’t continually make major error after major error? When do we see a team that consistently competes with a quality opponent? We used to compete – we didn’t always make two handfuls of costly mistakes; back in 2009 and 2010 we were a legit threat to win nearly every game, but for some reason it’s gone. Is it mental? What is it?

As far as competing, we did that in College Station. I’ll say again that we played tough for four quarters and I’m proud of the toughness on display. As the same time, however, that’s like an old lady saying she’s proud of me for holding the door for her. I did what was expected of me, what I should be doing – you shouldn’t have to be congratulated for doing what you’re supposed to.

The talent is there….right now. Does anyone argue with that? I’m not saying it’s there to knock off Bama and a slew of others to conquer the West, but we’ve got enough talent to go into each and every game with a chance to win, and actually win some big ones. Right now we have that.

The big mistakes occur game after game. I said it after the LSU game - it’s something different every week that holds us back. Those key mistakes – shooting ourselves in the foot with things we can control is the gap between MSU and the elite teams of the SEC. It’s not just execution from the players either, it’s play calling and having the right guys in the game as well.

What can be done to fix it? Well, that’s the million dollar question…literally. I’m hoping it all changes in time for 2014 when the schedule shines on MSU like it hasn’t in a while, but will it? The 10-win season so many can see for next year – will we be able to become a sharp, focused, disciplined team with quality leadership that achieves that goal?

I’ll let the W’s and L’s be the determining factor for 2013. We are obviously close with the team currently assembled, we just have to put it all together. If we can end the season 6-6 it will be good enough despite a lot of what we’ve seen this year. That seems to pretty much be the consensus – just beat Ole Miss and make another bowl game, let’s get through this and on to preparing for 2014. If we do that we should be able to stabilize the negative momentum and hopefully we can regroup – something we didn’t do very well last offseason.

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