Why Ashton Shumpert Should Play the Majority of the Game vs. Alabama


Mississippi State’s stable of running backs have produced virtually nothing through nine games this fall, and many a finger has been pointed at Ashton Shumpert. He has just 174 rushing yards on the season with a 3.5 YPC average. He looks a step (or two) slow and the offense seems to do better when he’s not in the game. But I say he needs to be out there more often than not against Alabama.

The main reason is because no matter who Dan Mullen trots out at running back, the chances of getting anywhere against the Tide’s front seven are slim. In fact, I’d almost expect them to play nickel most of the night fully expecting to stop MSU’s rushing attack with just six in the box….which I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to do. So I think the Bulldogs should throw the ball at least 70% of the time, and probably close to 80%.

Seriously, what’s the point in trying to run? MSU has been shut down by everyone this year. If we were facing any team not named Alabama I’d say give the ball to Aeries Williams 20 times to see if he can get into a rhythm and get something going. But this is Alabama, a team that just held Leonard Fournette to 31 yards on 19 carries. And he had a bye week to rest so he was fresh.

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State’s offensive line isn’t as good as LSU, and we certainly don’t have a running back that could hold Fournette’s jock strap. So this game is going to rely on the right arm of Dak Prescott. Maybe he’ll be able to pick up some yardage on the ground, but that’ll be it for the rushing attack.

So why Shumpert? Because he can block well. Or, at least, I trust him more in pass protection than Williams, Holloway or Lee. We don’t need five wide – have Shump in the backfield to protect Dak.

And Shumpert has actually been pretty good in the passing game. He wasn’t able to corral a poorly thrown two point conversion try against LSU that would’ve tied the game, but other than that he has 12 catches for 108 yards. So he provides a decent check-down option for Prescott.

If State is going to win this game, it’s going to be because the trio of Prescott, Bear Wilson and Fred Ross were able to move the ball and get in the endzone. If the Dawgs hit 50 yards from it’s running backs I’d be shocked, and if we do get there by averaging two yards per carry I’ll be ticked. Pass the football – it’s what we do in 2015, and Shump can play his most important role of the year by helping to keep Dak upright.