MWN roundtable: Mississippi State football vs. LSU Tigers preview

STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI - SEPTEMBER 09: Mississippi State Bulldogs players enter the field before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Davis Wade Stadium on September 09, 2023 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI - SEPTEMBER 09: Mississippi State Bulldogs players enter the field before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Davis Wade Stadium on September 09, 2023 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

Week three is here and the Mississippi State football team will take on the LSU Tigers. Here’s what our staff is thinking ahead of this matchup.

Let’s get set to watch some Mississippi State football. And since Zach Arnett and the Miss. State Bulldogs are getting set to host the LSU Tigers, we got our staff together to chat about the upcoming game.

We’ve got all sorts of thoughts!

This matchup is intriguing because, while the Tigers are talented, there are some possible vulnerabilities (especially with regards to LSU’s defense). But can the Bulldogs take advantage of those weaknesses?

Here’s what we’re thinking about this Mississippi State football game.

Mississippi State football vs. LSU Tigers preview: MWN roundtable

Ethan Lee: It’s showtime, folks. LSU is on the horizon. MSU looked… messy… last week. Justin said it’s our destiny to win. What’re we thinking about this game?

(I’m not thrilled)

Andrew Miller: Interesting matchup. LSU’s weakness is in their secondary, and I do think you’ll see State try and open up the offense more (at least I hope…) to attack that. But then it becomes a question of whether or not State’s OL can hold up in protection against LSU’s loaded defensive front.

Luckily, they seem committed to playing Harold Perkins at off-ball LB, so that helps. But they’ve got studs along the interior DL too, and State’s interior OL struggled with Arizona. You absolutely have to try and throw it on this LSU team, but whether or not Rogers has time is another question.

On the other side of the ball, State has to find a more consistent pass rush and contain Daniels. FSU pressured him quite a bit with success, and when they weren’t blitzing, they kept a spy on him. I think you need a similar approach from State.I am concerned about State’s DBs vs LSU’s receivers. And obviously if you’re commuting more guys to attack Daniels, that means you’re putting more pressure of your DBs to hold up in coverage. But I don’t think you can just sit back and play conservatively like they did against Arizona and win this game. You need to be aggressive.

Ethan Lee: Beyond the scheme and matchups and such, there are some interesting storylines with this game. Not that “motivation” and “want it more” generally matter as much as people tend to sometimes think, but you’ve got to think that this game is one that the veteran leaders on this team really want.

Obviously last year’s game is one that State had a solid lead but mistakes cost them. You go back to 2021 and it’s just a three point loss in a really weird game. And so now, after whiffing on those two opportunities, it seems like a senior-laden team would have plenty of motivation for this contest.

And it certainly would fit with Justin Strawn’s theory of destiny with this game.

Andrew Miller: You would hope. Even as a team that won the West last season, the Tigers were vulnerable, and they’ve been vulnerable for some time now. That looks to be the case again this season (though FSU might just be really good). You’ve got the game at home and should have a great crowd. This is a chance to make a statement.

Ethan Lee: Agreed. Brian Kelly is a great coach, but it seems like LSU still has a long ways to go before they’re back into national title contending status the way that LSU fans want. The Tigers were deeply imperfect and were very underwhelming against Tennessee and Texas A&M (yes, the Vols were good last year, but losing 40-13 at home isn’t exactly a great showing, regardless of foe).

Trey Burke: Do we think LSU has real flaws that date back to last year or are they a true contender in the conference?

Andrew Miller: They were terrible in pass protection last year, and they really had to lean on Daniels to run the ball. Their run defense was also bad a year ago. I think the offensive issues are similar, but I think defensively they’ve improved vs the run but are weaker vs the pass

Ryan Strickland: What has been seen on LSU’s defense, there is a chance that State can make it interesting and possibly pull off the win but the offense has to execute better and the playbook has to be opened up. I believe there will be a more balanced approach and more passing. LSU’s secondary is suspect to say the least so if the OL can protect and execute better State should have success passing.

Will it happen? We shall see.

Ethan Lee: LSU has flaws, but just about everyone in the SEC West does and I feel comfortable saying, that because of their talent, they’re still a legit contender for the SEC West.

I think Georgia will play murderball and steamroll anyone who gets the “pleasure” of facing them in Atlanta

Andrew Miller: Most likely, yes. But even UGA has looked a bit sluggish so far. We probably won’t know what UGA is until the postseason. But they’re still likely a lot better than whoever wins the West.

Ethan Lee: You touched on LSU’s issues against the run last year. That’s something that Tennessee and Texas A&M both exploited. Does State have to find ways to stretch the field and attack LSU’s secondary to loosen things up in that front 7, or is there any hope that MSU’s wide zone running will work early on in the game against LSU?

Trey Burke: It was an issue early against Grambling State and they struggled with Florida States motion. So it’s possible that Barbay can concoct a running attack that can buy some yards against LSU. If you’re on the “Kevin Barbay’s hasn’t showed his offense” bandwagon, this is something to look out for.

Andrew Miller: They’re at least going to try it. I think their version of Wide Zone where they leave an interior DL unblocked and then trap him with a TE blocking back might be a good look against this LSU team to use some of their aggressiveness up the middle against them.

Ethan Lee: I’m all on board with that, but I’m more on board with the idea that Barbay hasn’t even opened up a fraction of his offense and that we’ll get to see a fun and unconventional rushing attack involving Wright, Creed, and Tulu. Let’s get creative and chaotic with this

Trey Burke: Yeah. At some point Barbay’s gonna start to push back if he’s getting beat up over the offense production. Also, if you’re an OC that uses motion and you watched that FSU game, you’d be standing on the table begging to take out the rest of the playbook.

Ryan Strickland: I do not have a lot of faith that execution will all of a sudden be what it needs to be from what we’ve seen so far this year. Defensively to me is all about containing Daniels better then they did De Laura last week because I do not believe Daniels makes the mistakes De Laura made. Have to make him uncomfortable and take away scrambling around for more time or extending plays with his legs or it’s going to be a long day for the defense.

If the approach to this game is the same as last week, State will get ran out of the building by halftime but from what the coaches have said I believe it will be different. I think it’s close but LSU will ultimately pull away in the 4th and gets the win.

Always want a win but if State shows improvement on offense with a more balanced approach and looks competent and keeps the game competitive and close, I won’t be too upset and have a little more confidence in the team the rest of the way.

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