Mississippi State Versus Louisiana Tech Report Card


Oct 17, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen walks to the stadium before the first half against Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State got an early scare from the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. As has been the case all year long, Dan Mullen’s squad got off to a slow start. But once they got going, Mississippi State clicked on all cylinders.

If you subtract the first quarter, Mississippi State would have had straight A’s all the way down. But this is for the whole game, so we have to grade that way. Here is the way I evaluated each group, starting with the offense.

Grade B+

Mississippi State gets docked points for the early start. The defense is going to bear most of the burden there (as they should) but the offense wasn’t making the situation much better.

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State racked up 440 yards of offense. Once again Dan Mullen needed Dak Prescott to step up and the senior quarterback delivered. Prescott completed 30 of 43 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Prescott tacked on 34 yards rushing and a touchdown. And there was this little nugget as well.

There were nine different players who caught passes for the Bulldogs. De’Runnya Wilson and Malik Dear led the Bulldog receivers, but it was an impressive performance by the entire group.

The running game still struggles. Mississippi State only compiled 93 rushing yards on the day, but the coaches are going to more quick screen plays to try to make up for a lack of running game. On a positive note, Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams both looked solid in limited opportunities.

Grade C+

At some point, the Bulldogs have to start strong. Louisiana Tech, led by former Florida Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel, marched up and down the field in the first quarter and quickly had Mississippi State in a 14-0 hole before any of us could get comfortable.

People have been critical of the Manny Diaz defense. Some of it is unjustified. But criticizing him for not having his defense ready at the beginning of the game is completely legitimate.

Now, as much criticism as he deserves for the slow start, Diaz deserves praise for being able to right the ship. Of the 413 yards, nearly half of it was given up in the first quarter.

If the Bulldogs can get the first quarter issues solved, they could be a formidable opponent for every team left on the schedule, including Alabama.

Special Teams
Grade: A

This might have been one of the best performances of the season for the Special Teams unit. There was only one minor miscue that cost the team an A+.

Logan Cooke had a solid day punting the ball. He had 4 points and averaged over 45 yards a punt. And of the four punts, two of them were downed inside the 20 yard line.

Westin Graves continued to hit all the field goals he kicks. He came on in the first half and nailed a 26 yarder.

The most impressive part by the special teams happened at the end of the first half. Mississippi State had clawed all the way back to a 17 all tie, and Louisiana Tech was forced to punt with a little over a minute left. Donald Gray and a few other Bulldogs got to the punter and blocked the punt. Mississippi State recovered on the two yard line, and Dak Prescott would run in on the first play from scrimmage for a touchdown. Any lingering momentum Louisiana Tech had from the first quarter was officially dead.

The lone hiccup came during the third quarter. Mississippi State had stopped a Louisiana Tech drive, and the Ruston Bulldogs brought on their field goal unit. The 46 yard attempt was missed, but a roughing the kicker penalty by Will Redmond would keep the drive alive, and allow Louisiana Tech to drive close enough for a chip shot field goal.

Grade: A-

There are a number of ways I could have gone here, but I think the coaching staff deserves a lot of credit here. Louisiana Tech is not a bad team, and it would have been very easy for the team to fold after going down early like they did.

The coaching staff refused to let the team wallow in self pity. The offense started to click, and the defense did what it usually does and clamped down.

Mississippi State didn’t have a perfect game, but once they worked the kinks out, there was almost nothing to complain about.

Next: Top 10 Wins in the Dan Mullen Era at Mississippi State