The Mississippi State Bulldogs are now 2-0 for the 2023 Mississippi State football season. What was good, what was bad, and what was ugly about the victory over the Arizona Wildcats?
In the Bulldogs second game of the season, the competition got stiffer. Mississippi State football took on their first FBS opponent, the Pac-12’s Arizona Wildcats. As you can imagine, there were more struggles than MSU had against Southeastern Louisiana but the Bulldogs came out on top.
If you followed the game on twitt- I mean X, then you probably think there was only bad, bad, very bad, and ugly about the game.
But there were some things State did well in week 2, despite what your message board loving uncle might tell you.
The good from Mississippi State vs. Arizona: Jett and the nickname boys
If you know a Mississippi State player and they have a nickname, you can bet they had a great game at Davis Wade on Saturday.
Jett Johnson has a cool enough given name not to need a nickname, but he and Nathaniel “Bookie” Watson had a day for the Bulldog defense.
The two senior linebackers combined for 21 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and, most notably, 3 interceptions. Johnson turned his performance into SEC Defensive player of the week honors. He and Watson have been able to keep up their pace from last season when they both led the SEC in tackles. If they can add the big plays like they did on Saturday, our defense will be formidable entering SEC play.
On offense, we had huge days from Jo’Quavious “Woody” Marks on the ground and Lideatrick “Tulu” Griffin through the air. The 123 rushing yards for Woody marked his second 100-yard game in as many tries in 2023. Tulu took in 5 passes for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns. On a down day for the Mississippi State offense, the seniors came through to put State in front.
In a stressful game like the one Saturday, it helps tremendously to have senior leadership on the team.
State is lucky to have players like Woody and Tulu on offense and Jett and Bookie helming the defense. We have a murderers row of games coming up this season including LSU, Alabama, and a matchup at South Carolina under the lights. We’ll need these guys and the rest of our seniors to step up to give us a chance.