Mississippi State University fans did not see this coming, but, in all honesty, it was bound to happen someway.
This past Saturday, the Bulldogs went into Lexington, Kentucky, looking to put their contest against the University of Kentucky into the win column; but instead, got handed 16 penalties, costing MSU to give up an astounding 139 yards, as well as be on the wrong end of a record-setting night for Benny Snell Jr. as he ran for 165 yds and 4 touchdowns on 25 carries.
Aside from the numerous penalties and Snell Jr.’s performance, MSU was outmatched and outplayed, trying their best to adjust to Kentucky's defense, but ultimately failing to get the offense rolling.
We can blame head coach Joe Moorhead’s play calling, Nick Fitzgerald’s inaccuracy and the defense’s inefficiency all we want, but the fact of the matter is the team was not as ready as the fans thought they were, and the fans did not expect Kentucky's team. Nick Fitzgerald, a senior from Richmond Hills, Georgia, may be the Bulldogs' feature player, but the offensive linemen and wide receivers had a very hard time playing against the Wildcats’ rough and rugged defensive front, and for the WRs, the rain was simply a burden.
Sure, some of Kentucky’s offensive plays were made because MSU’s defense was a bit conservative; however, it was very disappointing to see our defensive line get slaughtered up front by the opposing line and the charismatic running back who had his sights set on making the Bulldogs look bad.
Some adjustments and much needed soul searching have got to be made before MSU (3-1) play Florida (3-1) this upcoming Saturday.
Specifically, the wide receivers need some work. It is obvious the rain had something to do with the dropped passes, but a lot of those passes should have been completions. At one point in the game, Stephen Guidry, a junior from New Roads, Louisiana, took his gloves off in order to increase his chances of catching the ball, but for whatever reason, he put them back on, defeating the purpose of taking them off in the first place.
Another thing in need of addressing is Fitzgerald. He is not a dual threat weapon just yet. It is easy to see his accuracy is a major flaw to be worked on, but the problem the offense had was that he carried the football a tad bit too much, as he had 16 carries, four more than the two running backs combined.
Granted, the running in this game was not clicking anyway with the offensive line being outplayed by Kentucky’s (4-0) defense, especially their linebacker Josh Allen who had 6 tackles, but there comes a time where there needs to be some changes on the field, henceforth subbing in sophomore Keytaon Thompson, a quarterback from New Orleans.
It is a shame Thompson is not put on the field more, as it was proven he can make things happen when he is on the field, as he has lead the team to two wins in his two career starts. It would be incredibly beneficial for MSU to consider playing Thompson more, because it can keep defenders on their toes, along with giving Fitzgerald some rest between possessions.
I am not going to put a lot of pressure on the offensive and defensive lines, other than to say in this coming week, there has to be some light bulbs going off in some heads–waking them up and letting them know Kentucky can not happen again. I will pressure Moorhead, as he chose to not feature the running backs more in the game.
Now I know it is obvious to see there was some ridiculous officiating by the referees. A lot of those calls were absolutely non-negotiable due to the fact there were too many mental mistakes made by the Bulldogs.
But anybody with two eyes could see those pass interference calls were things of nightmares, especially the defensive pass interference call against Chris Rayford. The call in question should have been an offensive pass interference instead, as the last time I checked, a tight end grabbing your face mask while making a play on the ball is an offensive pass interference.
Is it okay to be concerned about MSU’s football team from here on out? Yes. Should you be worried about losing to Florida this coming Saturday? Yes.
But here’s the fact of the matter: Kentucky was just one game. This game can hopefully open the eyes of the team, and show them what they did horribly wrong so they can fix those mistakes and never make them again. Also, this is a chance for the coaching staff to go back to the drawing board and amp up preparation techniques for the team, because after this game, it only gets tougher from here on out.