18 September 2011
Before I get into game analysis, I want to point out something troubling. In the past two weeks I've seen and heard some things from fellow Bulldog fans that make me shake my head. Dan Mullen told the Clarion Ledger that he received lots of hate mail after the Auburn loss. There has been heavy criticism of Chris Wilson and Les Koenning. Read the C-L message boards and you'll see words like "embarrassing" and "shameful". I don't get it.
I don't need to remind Bulldog where this program was just three years ago. I don't need to remind them of 45-0. So why must I remind them of the amazing job that Dan Mullen has done in his short tenure here? I'd say the turnaround he has manufactured has been quite remarkable. Is this a championship team? No. Not yet. But it's only been two years. TWO YEARS! Going from 45-0 against TSUN to competing in college football's toughest division will take longer than two years. Bulldog fans would be wise to remember that. Especially if we intend to hang on to our coach for the long term. He's delivered nothing but results and yet we already hear grumbling from many Bulldog fans after this team goes 0-2 against Auburn and LSU. That's just not reasonable. So, I say we need to be patient. State will get there. Let's not be so tough on the coaches and players. Mullen was given a tall task and so far I've seen nothing but progress. I have absolutely nothing but optimism regarding the direction this program is going.
Now, about the game.
State lost, but I was much more impressed with them than I was last week. I'm gonna be honest. I didn't think State had a chance in this game. The deck was stacked against them big time. I wasn't even expecting it to be close. They lost a very physical, very emotional game against Auburn. They had to turnaround and face arguably the best team in America. They had the pressure of a home opener, nationally broadcast. Our top two O-linemen were banged up, one of them in street clothes (then we lose our third best lineman on the first series). Relf was clearly banged up and not operating at 100%. And LSU essentially had a scrimmage game last week. In short, it was gonna take a miracle for the Dogs to win, or at least a litany of errors by LSU, and it simply didn't happen.
Bottom line, State got beat by a better team. LSU is bigger, faster and deeper than MSU. Beating them with half an O-line is not possible. That being said, I've got to give Chris Wilson and his staff a ton of credit. There were some concerns about the defense after the first two games and the defense answered last night. They were outmatched by a bigger, deeper offensive line and some powerful running backs but they played well and gave our offense a chance to win the game. The D-Line stepped up, and Cam Lawrence once again shined, potentially emerging as the anchor for this unit. Wilson's boys held their own until the 4th Quarter where the bigger, deeper Tigers took advantage of their time of possession and a Bulldog offense that couldn't keep the ball. Simply put, our D just got tired. But I applaud the effort nonetheless and I am now much more optimistic about the rest of the season. The Georgia and South Carolina games look much better for us now. And Bama and Arky aren't out of the question.
Note to SEC QBs: Don't throw at Johnthan Banks. You will regret it.
Offensively, they struggled. Granted, I expected more but going into it I knew State was gonna have a tough time scoring. Clausell and Day are good, but we need Carmon and Saulsberry at 100%. Without that I knew our O-Line would be overmatched, and they were. LSU's secondary is lightning fast and physical. We just couldn't break away for any meaningful yards. Sustaining a drive against them is near impossible. Relf struggled for the first time this year and it looked to me like he wasn't 100%. I think the beating he took last week was showing. Of course, LSUs speed, pass rush and the continued problem our WRs have dropping the ball didn't help. We couldn't get our running game going and when that happens State's not going to win.
Special Teams looked better also. Kick and punt coverage was much improved and DePasquale hit two solid FGs. We still need someone who can kickoff deep and get more touchbacks.
Helmet Stickers: Kaleb Eulls, Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox played solidly up front. Cam Lawrence once again was strong and passed some hard licks. Johnthan Banks recorded another interception and Nickoe Whitley was all over the place. Anyone else hear Ferlando Bohanna's name called when he laid the lumber on Spencer Ware? I did. It won't be the last. DePasquale is showing consistency. Quentin Saulsberry showed guts and performed well at guard. Dillon Day had one bad snap but followed that with a heck of a game at center.
One question: The time out thing. I think Mullen's frustration showed. He said LSU had the game in hand and didn't see a need to use the timeouts. True.
BUT, why keep them? Granted, winning the game is probably out of the question. They needed a TD, an onside kick and another TD in about 90 seconds. Not happening. But why not try? Especially when you have your second unit in there. These are the backups and we have the nation's best defense on the field with them. Seems like a great opportunity to practice running the offense. Seems like a chance to get our backup QB and O-Line some meaningful reps. Why not use the time outs?
Mullen was done and wanted the game to end. I understand. But I wouldv'e used the time to my advantage somehow.
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