Mississippi State Football: The good, the bad, and the ugly vs Kentucky

Oct 15, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach looks on during the third quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach looks on during the third quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports /

I must admit I was a little surprised that we walked out of Lexington with a loss this past Saturday. I’m not taking anything away from the Wildcats, but I truly believe that the Bulldogs have a much better team on all fronts this season but have failed to show it on the road.

Now, the Bulldogs must go on the road again to face an Alabama team that just took their first loss of the season vs. the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers. The Crimson Tide probably isn’t very happy about it. I thought Nick Saban was going to have a stroke on the sidelines during the game so we can expect a very motivated Alabama ball club in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night.

The only good news about this week’s match-up is that Alabama has shown some vulnerability in pass coverage and defending the run. Against Tennessee, the Vols threw for 385 yards, while Texas threw for 292 yards in their match-up vs. Alabama in week two. In week six, Texas A&M put up nearly 290 yards on the ground, while both Arkansas and Tennessee rushed for over 180 yards in both contests. Either way, Alabama is beatable but that doesn’t matter if the Bulldogs can’t figure out how to compete on the road. With that being said, let’s talk about Mississippi State football the good, the bad, and the ugly vs. Kentucky.

The Good – Mississippi State football’s field goal unit

Last week, I hammered the special teams’ units specifically the field goal and extra point units. This week we hit them all, not that there were a lot of opportunities just one field goal and two extra points, but it was the only positive aspect of Saturday night’s match-up so “Hail State and go Dawgs” to the field goal units.

I also want to give a shout-out to number 13, Emmanuel Forbes. That pick-six looked like he knew what the play was and it was meant for him. I might be wrong, but I believe that brings him to a total of 5 pick sixes which is another SEC football record. Keep racking them up number 13, we need it.

The Bad – Mississippi State football’s travel preparation and execution

If there is one thing that has jumped out to me this season is that Mississippi State has a fog over their heads on the road. In both SEC losses to LSU and now Kentucky, the Bulldogs seem like a totally different team altogether. I believe this is due to the team’s travel week preparation and mentality while on the road.

One of the hardest things for any team on the road is to stay focused. Mississippi State really needs to rethink their travel prep and agenda on all games played away from Starkville, Mississippi. Things like travel times, meal schedule, and most important lights out and morning walk-through. Not sure what it is, but I am certainly convinced that there is an issue in how this team prepares for road games and it shows on the field. The team that we all watched this past Saturday seemed unprepared both mentally and physically which resulted in being dominated in Lexington. Unfortunately, the score doesn’t even come close to showing how badly the Bulldogs played.

On a side note, could somebody please get Mike Leach to act like he is invested in this team and the game? I mean please show just a little emotion from time to time. Get mad about a bad call or two. Throw that three-by-five index card you call a playbook up in the air or on the ground and stomp on it. In the end, if he would show just a little emotion maybe, just maybe, it might help the team get fired up when they need it. Come on Pirate Leach, I know you can do it. By the way, I have a feeling this coming Saturday you will have a reason by halftime.

The Ugly – Mississippi State football’s lack of discipline

It has been said that in the game of football a referee could basically through a flag on every play. Yep, it’s true on every play there is a little grab and a tug and sometimes a little bit more. In general, the referees just let the team play and turn a blind eye for the most part on both sides.  Mississippi State acted like they had been taught just to grab the receiver instead of covering them against the pass. I think this is a pattern and needs to be addressed ASAP.

Last week, I spoke of how the Bulldogs had several breakdowns in coverage and it was easy to tell that Kentucky saw it as well. Kentucky receivers went straight down the field knowing that the way the Bulldogs have been playing would result in a big play or at least a penalty and you know what, it worked. Kentucky waited until the second half to really go after our secondary, and their plan worked perfectly. This is an issue that needs to be fixed before playing the Crimson Tide this weekend.

Mississippi State football vs. Alabama prediction

This week’s prediction is totally based on previous road games that Mississippi State football has played. In every game including LSU and Kentucky, Mississippi State has at least one or two good drives showing that they can move the ball, but for some reason, they just don’t seem to be able to continue throughout the entire game. So, I have to lean toward a pretty solid win for Alabama.

Mississippi State 21
Alabama 35