X-Factor – Troy Edition


Every week there will be one player or coach who will be considered the x-factor.  The x-factor is player/coach who will really need to perform well that week, in order for the Dawgs to come away with a win.  Essentially the x-factor is the make-or-break position on the field for that week.

The Bulldogs (3-2, 1-2) are coming off a disappointing loss to Texas A&M.  Now Mississippi State returns home to face the Troy Trojans (1-3).  Let’s just face it.  The Trojans do not pose much of a threat to the Dawgs.  Troy is 0-3 against FBS opponents.  Their lone win comes from a September 12 victory over Charleston Southern.  The Troy offenses averages 21.5 points per game, 110.8 rush YPG, 189.0 pass YPG, totalling 299.8 total YPG.  The Trojans are led at QB by Brandon Silvers.  Silvers is completing passes at a 62.3% clip and averaging 180.2 yards per game.  RB Brandon Burks is the top rusher for Troy, averaging 79.8 yards per game.  Lastly Teddy Ruben leads the receiving corps with 49.2 yards per game.

As I have mentioned before in this installment, anything can happen on any given Saturday.  Any Mississippi State fan should know that quite well.  However, Dan Mullen has done an excellent job at beating the teams he is supposed to beat (knock on wood). Mullen is 26-5 (23-3 in regular season) against non-conference foes, with two of those losses coming in Mullen’s first year as head coach.  Mullen has had a few close calls in recent memory.  In 2011, Louisiana Tech came into Starkville for a game that most Bulldog fans expected to win in blowout fashion.  Chris Relf had to hit LaDarius Perkins for a touchdown in overtime to escape with the win.  That Louisiana Tech team was more talented than this Troy team, but the fact still remains that anything can happen.

It is hard to pick an x-factor when one player will not necessarily win or lose the game this week.  One player can play poorly and the Dawgs can still come away with the win.  But nonetheless there shall be an x-factor this week.  The x-factor of the week is Malik Dear.  Dear is a freshman running back out of Jackson, MS.  It has been no secret that the Bulldogs have struggled to run the ball thus far this season.  No one has been able to separate themselves from the rest of the backs to become a true starter.  Malik Dear has come closest.  He only had one rush last week before getting injured and not returning.  That one rush just so happened to be a 52 yard scamper for a touchdown.  He has proven though 5 weeks that he can be an explosive play maker in the back field.  I personally think he should be named the starter at running back for the rest of the season.  In a game where the Bulldogs can afford to work out some kinks in the offense, Malik Dear has an opportunity to pull away and become a clear cut starter at RB.  Look for Malik Dear to have a big game on Saturday and establish himself as best running back for the Bulldogs.