Why Does Mississippi State Struggle in the 1st Quarter?


Oct 17, 2015; Starkville, MS, USA; Louisiana Tech Bulldogs wide receiver Trent Taylor (5) jumps over Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Brandon Bryant (20) to catch a pass in the end zone during the first half at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State is making a habit of attempting to give the fans of the Bulldogs a heart attack. Before you could blink Dan Mullen’s team was down 14-0 to the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. It’s become a recurring nightmare throughout the season.

With the lone exception of the game against Troy State, the Bulldogs have had some difficulty in the beginning of their game. Here is how they have struggled in the opening moments of each game.

  • Southern Miss: Trailed 3-0 and 10-7 on two different occasions in the first quarter. The Bulldogs would rebound and win the game 34-16
  • LSU: Trailed 14-0 in the first quarter. A fourth quarter rally would fall short and the Bulldogs would lose the game 21-19
  • Northwestern State: Mississippi State scored and they held the Devils scoreless on the opening possession. The Devils did drive almost at will on their first possession, but a poor fake field goal attempt kept the Devils off the board for their first possession.
  • Auburn: The Tigers were starting redshirt freshman quarterback Sean White for the first time all season. Even that couldn’t keep the Tigers from having a productive opening drive. Auburn looked like they were going to score, but a poor decision by White led to a Will Redmond interception to end the drive.
  • Texas A&M: The Aggies also jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. The Bulldogs were unable to recover, and they lost the game 30-17.
  • Louisian Tech: As previously stated, Mississippi State trailed in this game 14-0 early in the first quarter before rebounding for a 45-20 victory.

The offense has had a hard time finding a rhythm early in each game except for the game against Troy. But the offense isn’t the biggest issue Mississippi State has had in these early game struggles.

The defense has been the primary culprit for putting Mississippi State in such dire straits to begin the game. In two of the games, the Bulldogs were not able to climb their way out of those holes.

More from Maroon and White Nation

I wish I could offer some rational explanation for why the team, and specifically the defense, struggles early on in the games. The best rationale i can come up with is Manny Diaz needs time to see where he has an advantage to exploit. It makes some sense simply because once the defense gives up their usual 10 to 14 points, they don’t normally give up too many points after that.

The Bulldogs now have nothing but conference opponents left on the schedule. There is a good possibility Mississippi State will be favored in 4 of the 5 remaining games. But regardless of who should win or lose, if the Bulldogs continue to put themselves in these huge holes to begin the game, it is likely going to cost them a win or two against a team they should be able to beat.

Mullen and company have work to do before next week against Kentucky.

Next: Mississippi State Versus Louisiana Tech Report Card