Turnovers plague Mississippi State’s offense
There was a point in the season that some were suggesting Mississippi State’s offense was turning the corner. That was not at all the case. Over the last four weeks, the Bulldogs are averaging just 251 yards per game. State’s had to navigate that stretch with a pair of notable injuries. RB Woody Marks has missed three-straight since the 7-3 win over Arkansas. QB Will Rogers hasn’t played in any of the four games.
Those are, of course, huge blows to the Bulldog offense. But MSU still had very real struggles with those two healthy earlier in the season, and you’d have hoped that the offensive staff could’ve constructed a more effective gameplan offensively at some point in their absence.
Freshman QB Chris Parson got his first start as a Bulldog, and while many State fans hyped themselves up into believing Parson would lead a remarkable turnaround over the final weeks (or at least lay a good foundation to build upon for next year), things certainly did not go as planned.
Parson went 5/12 for 36 yards with no TDs and three INTs. It really couldn’t have been worse. State’s first offensive series of the day ended with Parson throwing an interception. He was not helped at all by the fact that the offense committed three false starts on that first drive, including one to set up a 3rd & 18. It was on this play that Parson throws the pick.
A&M plays Man Free here. State runs what looks like Four Verticals out of 3×1 with the single receiver on an out route. Parson initially looks to the trips side before coming back to his one-on-one. CB Deuce Harmon is all over it, and it’s a pick. Luckily for State, the throw was low because otherwise, this easily could’ve been a pick-six.
Look, 3rd & 18 with your third string QB is basically an impossible spot to be in. You don’t have a call for that (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t just throw a screen…). A&M has everything covered, and because of the blitz, the RB has to stay in to protect, taking away a checkdown option. But if you’re Parson, you have to know you can’t throw that ball. It’s not there. Just throw it away. And even if he wanted to force that one, he needed to release it sooner to give his guy any shot at it.
Ultimately, that’s just a freshman mistake. And unfortunately, Parson had a lot of them in this game. That’s just how it goes, especially when you throw a young QB into a spot like this one. Hopefully he can learn from it.
A&M’s second half scoop and score was just a encapsulation of how the night had gone for MSU. They’d forced a punt to start the second half, and Seth Davis broke a 46-yard run to put the Bulldogs into scoring position. But an incompletion, run for loss of one, and a false start set up a 3rd & 16, another terrible spot to be in.
The Aggies don’t blitz on this 3rd & Long, but they show pressure pre-snap and disguise who all is coming. Both LB Edgerrin Cooper and S Jarred Kerr and threatening a blitz. At the snap, Cooper and DE Fadil Diggs both drop out into coverage away from the left side of the OL. Kerr and the three other DL are the ones who pressure.
The disguised pressure works perfectly. Kerr comes through the line completely unblocked and blows up QB Mike Wright, forcing a fumble. DE Shemar Stewart picks it up and takes it back for a TD.
In all, Mississippi State turned the ball over four times against Texas A&M, resulting in 17 points for the Aggies. It’s not at all like turnovers were the difference in the game. A&M still would’ve won easily without them. But any chances State had of making this game competitive died with those mistakes.