As the Mississippi State football team gets set to face the Arkansas Razorbacks, let’s start pondering on what the Bulldogs’ offense might look like.
We’ve seen all sorts of weirdness and inconsistency from the Bulldogs’ offense throughout the season. And it’s pretty obvious that Kevin Barbay believes running the ball is important. That’s especially true if Will Rogers is dinged up and not 100 percent healthy after taking a rough hit vs. the Western Michigan Broncos.
So, it’s safe to say that the running game success is crucial for the Bulldogs to have success.
Mississippi State’s offense has largely revolved around the ground game this season, except for that thrilling South Carolina performance that Rogers put on.
But if Rogers isn’t fully healthy then the Bulldogs need to run the ball. Because Mike Wright hasn’t exactly appeared to be an Air Raid, pass happy sort of quarterback.
Can the Mississippi State football team operate its offense the way the Bulldogs want to?
What makes this interesting is that Jo’quavious “Woody” Marks, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher, hasn’t exactly appeared to be fully healthy in recent weeks. Thankfully the Bulldogs have guys like Seth Davis, Simeon Price, Keyvone Lee, and Jeffery Pittman.
On the season so far, when looking at rushers other than Marks, the Bulldogs have some intriguing options. But so far, the Bulldogs haven’t really turned to their backup running backs to really take over a game, as evidenced by the fact that Marks was playing against Western Michigan, of all teams, while he appeared to be injured.
And so, at running back, Davis is the next leading rusher behind Marks at 128 rushing yards but he’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Lee and Pittman have a combined 121 rushing yards to their name and Price has just 3 carries so far this year.
But MSU’s rushing attack isn’t just generated by the Bulldogs’ running backs. MSU also utilizes receivers, such as Creed Whittemore (3 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown) and Lideatrick “Tulu” Griffin (9 carries for 30 yards and a touchdown), as well as a pretty dynamic quarterback.
Should the Bulldogs need Wright to play a fair bit more because of that injury issue, it’s worth noting how the Bulldogs have used him for much of the season up to this point. Wright hasn’t been the guy the Bulldogs have trusted to throw the ball frequently. Instead, Kevin Barbay and MSU have placed Wright in at various different times to operate as a change of pace to help generate a slightly different looking offense.
And that has included some designated quarterback runs and some option looks. If MSU needs to have Wright operate the offense more regularly, then it seems likely that he’d be adding to his 20 carries, 138 rushing yards, and three rushing touchdowns.
Arkansas’ run defense has proven to be pretty stout
The Bulldogs won’t just find an easy path to victory by running the ball with ease against Arkansas. So far this season, the Razorbacks have held their foes to 133.3 rushing yards per game at an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Arkansas has only allowed for six rushing touchdowns this season.
So, that’s not exactly going to be a huge weakness for the Razorbacks.
Alabama only gained 100 rushing yards vs. Arkansas. Ole Miss was limited to 36 rushing yards. Texas A&M was barely able to get to 42 rushing yards.
Oh, and Arkansas hasn’t allowed a single rushing touchdown since September 16.
So, we’ll see how the Bulldogs approach offense in this game. It seems likely that a win would be difficult if the Bulldogs can’t get a rushing attack going.