Arkansas Game Review – Finding a Way to Win


Nov 23, 2013; Little Rock, AR, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Tyler Russell (17) calls a play against the Arkansas Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

When this game was over I just felt a huge sigh of relief. I’m sure y’all felt similar. It was like we know MSU is the better team but we’re gonna shoot ourselves in the foot so many times it’s going to cost us this game that we should clearly win. But instead of finding a way to lose like we’ve done on many occasions, MSU found a way to win a game we had to have. Bowl eligibility is still possible, and it sets up a monster game for this season, and this program, on Thanksgiving night.


  • Robert Johnson had a great game: 4 catches for 70 yards. His first catch was a nice one on the sidelines, then a couple of times he put his head down and delivered punishment! When he wants to, he can be really physical and fun to watch.
  • It was a really sluggish start. Got a few first downs on each drive but just couldn’t keep it going to get a score until mid-way through the 2nd quarter.
  • Good response after going down 10-0, driving down the field quickly and getting a FG.
  • Got good field position after the failed fake punt by ARK and capitalized with a TD. Perkins had a great drive getting all the yardage but went down with an injury. He was having a good game: 6 carries for 32 yards, 2 catches for 38 yards.
  • Milton. Sheesh. He has fumbled at the worst times the last two years. But why was he in the game? He hasn’t played in forever – it should have been Shumpert, Robinson or even Nick Griffin. Fumbling inside the 5 right before the half, could’ve been a killer.
  • Josh Robinson was awesome in the 2nd half. 17 carries for 101 yards. Just a great day – and like I’ve been saying for weeks he should be in there as our full time featured tailback.
  • I don’t understand why we throw fades to Jameon Lewis. I just don’t get it – he’s 5′-7″.
  • Tyler Russell had a nice day. I’m happy for him as a senior to be able to come back and play well, throwing for 263 yards. He’s battled injury all year long and hopefully he’ll be able to play in the Egg Bowl.
  • Good response late in the 3rd quarter after going down 17-10. Drove down the field and scored a touchdown.
  • D’Runnya’s offensive pass interference was just unnecessary. He’s got the height on that guy, just go after it. As it turned out, 15 yard penalty led to a FG attempt way too far for Devon Bell to accurately kick it through.
  • 10 points on five trips for the red zone. That’s unacceptable. Even five field goals = 15 points. We fumbled once and missed two field goals.
  • Damian Williams, first play of overtime. Just awesome. You know you reached an octave you didn’t know you had pulling for him to get in the endzone!


  • They didn’t start off too well. Arkansas moved the ball right down the field on the first drive to score a touchdown, then to the MSU 30 on the 2nd drive, but good job to force a punt there.
  • Lots of missed tackles in this game. Credit to UPig’s tailbacks because they have some good ones, but there were a number of times we just didn’t wrap up.
  • 10-3, we had just kicked a field goal and State forces a 3 & out. Good penetration by the D-line to stuff the run. Got it right back to the offense who scored a TD to tie it up.
  • Zach Jackson made some nice plays. He hasn’t really made much noise since the first couple of games.
  • Nickoe Whitley’s strip of Alex Collins and fumble recovery was a great play. He simply took the ball away from him, and it was huge. Nickoe has played awful at times and he’s come up with huge plays at times. All or nothin’.
  • Beniquez Brown has really played well the last few games. A Redshirt Freshman, he looks like he’s going to be a player.
  • Denico Autry made some plays and had 1.5 TFL, and could’ve had another one but Collins slipped through his paws.
  • Final stand in overtime – you know your top two QBs are out, and Williams got you a TD so you need to end the game right there and they did it. Three picks for Calhoun in the last two games.

Special Teams

  • Opening kickoff was run back to the 44 yard line. It set up a Razorback touchdown on their opening drive.
  • On Arkansas’ field goal, it was a 54 yarder and we had six guys 5+ yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage. On a kick that far you know he’s going to kick it low and that’s just what he did, if those guys would have been on the line with their hands up it could have been blocked.
  • Bielema tried a fake punt and we snuffed it out. Good job there – it gave us great field position leading the a score.
  • Nice hit by Tolando Cleveland on kickoff coverage forcing a fumble which MSU recovered.
  • We take the first drive of the 2nd half all the way down inside the 10 yard line but get a 24 yard FG blocked. C’mon.
  • The 42 yard FG attempt at the end of regulation was worth the try. Bell’s got the leg, against the wind he had plenty of it but wide right. I’m not too disappointed about that particular one but we’ve got to figure out how to make FGs – should at least be 50/50 on 40-50 range.

Sometimes a win is a win. It wasn’t pretty, but sometimes you’ve just got to find a way to win. The Dawgs did that and now they’re 5-6 heading into the Egg Bowl.

This is ALWAYS a tough game, especially in Little Rock. Sandwiched in between the Bama game and the Egg Bowl it’s just tough to put everything into it. I know if we play like that on Thursday we’ll probably lose but I don’t look for State to play like that – with it being for the trophy we should be fully ready to go and emotions will run high.

Hail State.