Are you looking for some optimism about the 2023 Mississippi State football season? Here’s three reasons for hope after that loss to South Carolina.
There are plenty of reasons to be frustrated, infuriated, and down right upset after the Mississippi State football team fell short against the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Bulldogs had all sorts of issues that absolutely must be addressed if Zach Arnett wants to coach in a bowl game this season.
But still, there were some pretty encouraging moments for the Bulldogs that should provide something that resembles a glimpse of optimism for Mississippi State football fans as MSU heads into more of the SEC schedule.
Things weren’t all doom and gloom. And there were some positive takeaways that we can address and move forward with.
Here are three notable ones:
Mississippi State football’s offense found a rhythm thanks to Will Rogers and Tulu Griffin
The first three games of the 2023 Mississippi State football season featured messy offensive performance and wild inconsistencies. The Bulldogs flat out didn’t seem to have any sort of life on offense against the Arizona Wildcats and then things flatlined against the LSU Tigers.
Things were different Saturday evening against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Miss. State quarterback Will Rogers had one of the best games of his Mississippi State football career as he threw for 487 yards and a touchdown. And it’s worth noting that the Bulldogs finally found a way to feed Tulu Griffin the ball as he ended up setting a MSU record with 256 receiving yards in a game. Rogers got the ball to Griffin on seven different occasions and that includes a 65-yard touchdown.
The Bulldogs needed something that proved that Kevin Barbay’s offense could work in Starkville. While there were some issues with running the ball, this showed that MSU can still find ways to get down field and score.
Miss. State put pressure on Spencer Rattler
The Bulldogs have definitely been missing a consistent pass rush and Mississippi State had all sorts of issues actually causing problems for the dual threat quarterbacks faced previously. While Spencer Rattler actually handled the pressure with some incredible poise and found all of the glaring weaknesses in MSU’s secondary, the Bulldogs did get to him on several occasions.
Nathan Pickering found ways to get into the Gamecocks’ backfield and recorded two sacks. The Bulldogs have needed a lot from him and he definitely delivered vs. South Carolina.
This defense is flawed and has issues. But it’s about time that was saw a talented quarterback get chased around and pressured. It’s certainly not Pickering’s fault that Rattler completed 18 of 20 passes. He managed to put Rattler on the ground on a couple occasions.
Mississippi State Bulldogs showed resiliency vs. South Carolina
It seemed like there were multiple moments where this game could have gotten out of hand in a hurry. The Gamecocks had a notable 14-0 early lead over the Bulldogs and Mississippi State got right back into the game and made things competitive, putting the score at 17-20 at halftime.
Things could have really spiraled late as USC ended up going up by 10 points in the fourth quarter, but instead Rogers and MSU’s offense marched down the field in a hurry and knocked a field goal through the uprights to keep the game in striking distance.
All MSU needed was a considerably better onside kick.
This loss was bad and infuriating for a number of different reasons. MSU has a ton to work on and the Bulldogs are deeply flawed in ways that likely can’t totally be addressed without another recruiting cycle or two.
But there were some bright spots from this game. There are things to build around. Mississippi State showed that it does have the ability to score points and compete against SEC teams. This team demonstrated that it can be resilient.
The Bulldogs still need to be better.