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

Oct 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach studies his play chart before calling a fourth down play against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 22, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach studies his play chart before calling a fourth down play against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

The Mississippi State football team came up short this past weekend against top-ranked Georgia by a score of 49 to 19. The score sure makes it look like a loop-sided victory but believe it or not Mississippi State had several opportunities to make this game a contest and some could say a possible upset. Yet we all know that didn’t happen and currently, the Bulldogs are setting a 6-4 in the conference and looking at a possible liberty bowl invite unless we win out.

Speaking of winning out, how about this week’s matchup against East Tennessee State, looks like a Pirate will be taking on the Pirates in Starkville. I have gathered from the ETSU football program they have a pretty well-balanced offense averaging 200 yards a game in passing and roughly the same in rushing. I tend to think they lean more on the rushing attack which will not bold well against Mississippi State. Either way, the Bulldogs need a solid victory this week before we travel up north next week for the Egg Bowl.

The Good – The Bulldogs Defense

I hope everyone keeps in mind that Mississippi State is playing the 2nd toughest schedule in the country. The Bulldogs are one of the best defenses in the SEC and the country. I believe the Bulldogs will become more efficient in the Air Raid offense under Mike Leach’s system which will give more support on the defensive side of the ball. The Bulldogs also have been winning the turnover battle this season and that is huge, we just need to capitalize on those turnovers and put points on the board

I must also comment on what needs to change in our current defensive system if Mississippi State plans on doing anything better than 6-4 or 7-5 each season. First aggressive defensive systems create opportunities for aggressive offenses like Georgia. I was not surprised that Georgia went for the reverse on the first play of the second half, it was due to a very aggressive Bulldog defense. So, using pressure and multiple methods of disruption on defense is great if there is a safety valve to stop big plays. Mississippi State has failed to reduce such plays against quality teams such as Alabama and Georgia. Last, we needed to tackle better at the second and third levels, also our defensive backs need to get tougher especially, I will not call any names, but he missed about 13 tackles.

The Bad – Same ole – Same ole

I can see the progress the offense has made over the last three seasons with Coach Leach. I have no doubt about this style of offense working in the SEC or in any conference in the country for that matter. What I am concerned about is the predictability of the offense and the lack of extending the field. Hey, I get it the Air Raid offense is a system of short medium, and the occasional deep pass. But currently, we have way too many screen passes behind the line of scrimmage and wheel routes out of the backfield. As the season goes on those routes are being destroyed by opposing defenses.

I have also wondered why the Air Raid offense never uses the Tight end sets. Tight ends are great in short-yardage situations for both the run game and the passing game. Just imagine a 240-pound tight end on a slant across the middle, who wants to tangle with that all night, except of course Jett Johnson. Either way, the Air raid needs a few upgrades, and some adjustments and I believe this offense will score next season and possibly in the next few games, fingers crossed.

The Ugly – Time management and officiating

I have had the same observation from Dan Mullen, Joe Moorhead, and now Mike Leach. It is hard enough for a head coach to run a team and manage all aspects of being a head coach, but time management cannot fall to the waste side. During Dan the man’s time at State we lost to Alabama twice due to poor time management, one for not calling a time out and the other because we did. Joe Moorhead on the other hand, I don’t even know if he knew the games were timed. Now Leach and his massive play sheet act like he does not have time to even pay attention to the game clock.

How about that officiating crew this past Saturday? What a group, I have just one question did we have the same crew last year in Memphis? There must be a way for a coach to challenge these game-changing calls, go to the red card like the NFL or just allow coaches to have a challenge request per half. This is becoming too common in all games, and something needs to change for the integrity of the game.

Prediction vs. East Tennessee State University

The Bulldogs need to try something new on offense and play some of the backups in this game. We need to make sure we are well rested for the Land sharks, the Water bears, or the snow clowns, whatever they call themselves this week. I hope we get a good first-half lead and rest our first-teamers for the majority of the second half. This game should be a blowout and good practice game for next week’s match-up against Ole Miss on the road in Oxford. Try something new like the Statue of Liberty, the swordsman, or the triple reverse anything for a change.

Mississippi State 42