Mississippi State’s offense: not good at the game of football
Mississippi State football offensive performance against Kentucky was one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something. When your only points of the night come from a 20-play, 88-yard drive that takes up nearly an entire quarter of football, and those points were on a field goal, you’ve got massive problems.
Much of State’s issues fell back on QB Mike Wright. Wright went 11/21 for 78 yards and a pick six. He was almost entirely ineffective as a runner, the one area he’s supposed to be dangerous, and took multiple bad sacks where he simply held on to the ball too long. I hate to pile on one guy, especially a great personality like Wright. But this was a bad, bad night.
His second quarter pick six, effectively, put the game out of reach. MSU goes with the Snag concept, also know as Y-Corner or “8” in Air Raid terminology. Snag features a corner route from the slot receiver, a “snag” route from the outside receiver, and a flat route from the back. On a snag route, the receiver will push inside and look to either settle into open space vs zone or separate vs man.
It’s essentially the inverse of the Stick concept. The plays attack the same areas of the field and key off the same defender. They just flip the roles of the outside and slot receivers. With Stick, the vertical push comes from the outside receiver on the go-route while the slot runs the stick route to open space. For Snag, the corner from the slot pulls the defense vertically with the snag route coming underneath from the slot. Both plays get horizontal stretch from the RB on the flat route.
The QB wants to key off the flat defender, which vs this quarters look from Kentucky is the nickel. It’s meant to be a simple read. If the flat defender widens to the flats with the RB, the QB throws the snag. If the defender sits on the snag route, he’ll throw to the RB. Snag, like Stick, can run into a problem though when the MIKE LB begins widening away from the middle of the field to take away the snag route.
This can especially become a problem if the defense has the MIKE matching the RB out of the backfield, which is the case here with Kentucky. The RB releasing to the flat pulls the MIKE out with him and runs him right into the snag route. Wright throws the snag because the NB widens to the flat. He never sees the MIKE also creeping over, and it’s an easy pick.
This is where you would hope Wright notices the MIKE widening to the play-side at the snap and could then work the backside combination. Frankly, I’m not sure either of those options were open either, but at the very least you could’ve avoided the INT and lived to play another down. Instead you go down 14-3.
I’ve said I’m done trying to find positives, and that’s definitely the case. But I figure I should showcase the one single play that had State fans optimistic of what could possibly be to come. Chris Parson got an opportunity to show what he can do in the second half of this game, and if nothing else, he gave us one throw worth getting excited over.
His first series got derailed by penalties, leading to a three-and-out. But on the first play of his second series, we got some fun. MSU calls a pretty common play-action shot in the game today: Double Posts-Over. The twins WRs to the field side both run deep posts while the single WR opposite of them has an over route.
Kentucky rotates into a Drop-8 Cover 3. Even with eight coverage defenders, State has a great look to attack this coverage. The post from the slot coupled with the over route will put the deep safety in conflict. Tulu has the slot post, and gets just enough separation after crossing with the over route. Parson delivers a perfect strike for State’s biggest gain of the day.
Unfortunately, MSU wasn’t able to turn an explosive play into points like Kentucky did. But it was still a flash from Parson showing what he could be capable of. At no point did Parson look like he wasn’t comfortable. He misfired on a few throws, but he still threw with confidence.
Mississippi State’s offense had an awful night against Kentucky. They’ve had several awful games this season. But perhaps they’ve found some hope for the future in the form of Chris Parson.