Content provided by All Things Maroon – A MSU and SEC blog.
Last November, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend was capped off with a 41-27 Egg Bowl victory by MSU. As Dan Mullen’s almost prophetic words echoed throughout Davis Wade Stadium, and it was clear that the Bulldog Football program was in the right hands, and headed in the right direction. A new QB had emerged, raw and rough around the edges. Though young on Offense and Defense, the Maroon Nation knew that if the Dawgs could build on that rivalry win over Ole Miss, 2010 could be a corner-turning year in Starkville. Fast forward to Saturday night’s 31-23 victory over the Rebels, and the hopes of many, had become a reality. State finished the 2010 regular season with an 8-4 record, and a 4-4 mark in conference play. Anyway, stories are for writers, and I’m a fan first. So, let’s get to our game notes and recap.
(1) Chris Relf 2.0- Over the past 2 weeks, Relf has thrown for 512 yards (224 yds vs Arkansas, 288 yds vs Ole Miss), with 3 TDs. Not only is he averaging 256 ypg through the air, but he is also making a statement on the ground. Relf rushed for 103 yards vs Arkansas, and another 66 on the ground vs Ole Miss (84.5 ypg, in 2 wks). Relf had 354 of MSU’s 498 yards vs the Rebels, and has 683 yards in the last 2 games combined. There are a few reads here and there that Chris doesn’t make, but we all know that the option game is feast or famine. He also needs to develop a more timely, internal QB Pocket clock. But, the kid is slowly but surely, becoming the QB we all hoped he would be. Ole Miss stacked the box all night, and the kid just made plays.
(2) LaDarius Perkins Breaks Out- When MSU played UAB earlier this season, it was an excellent opportunity to rest a banged-up Vick Ballard, while getting Freshman LaDarius Perkins some much needed experience. Perkins, aka ‘Waterbug’ on this site, responded with 18 carries for 131 yards. Ever since we saw the speed that Perkins displayed on that Homecoming night, many Bulldog fans have been hoping that Dan Mullen and Les Koenning would utilize his speed in open space, where the kid could have opportunities to make plays. On Saturday night, it was Perkins who shined, gashing the Black Bears’ defense for 238 yds. Waterbug posted 140 yds on just 3 receptions (2 for TDs), and added another 98 on the ground. It was Perkins’ footwork and speed, that cut through holes in the run game and screen game, and left the Rebels in the dust. Les Koenning and Dan Mullen must read my blog, because we have been begging for a screen pass all year. Saved it for TSUN, so no complaints there. Breakout game for the Freshman, and we’ll be looking to many more of these type performances over the next 3 years.
(3) Defense was PERFECT for all but 10 Minutes- Let’s just clarify how good our Defense was on Saturday night in Oxford. Ole Miss averages 406 ypg, but were held to just 326 yds. RB Brandon Bolden averages over 85 ypg, but finished with 45 yds. QB Jeremiah Masoli who is extremely dangerous with his feet, was smothered for 12 yards on 11 carries. The Rebel Offense came in averaging 220 ypg rushing, and were held to just 65 yds. State led 31-9 to start the 4th Quarter, until the Dawg D and Offense fell asleep. Ole Miss scored on drives of 66 and 80 yds, due to some very complacent play in the Dawg secondary. After a great punt by State’s Heath Hutchins (with 2:30 left), the Dawg D held Ole Miss to just 12 yds on a 9 play sequence to end the game. The Rebs would only sniff the 37 yd line, only by way of a play which was called back due to an illegal block. State swarmed Masoli and Co., for the entire series, and secured a 31-23 MSU victory. State’s D forced just 1 turnover (INT-Broomfield), but had 3 other Masoli passes that should have been picked. For the most part, Manny Diaz did an excellent job of preparing his Dawgs not to bite on the misdirection runs that the Bears live and thrive on. It wasn’t until the 4th, when the tackling and coverage seemed to faulter for MSU. Almost a perfect game, but they played a heck of a 50 minutes. I’d have to agree with Mullen, in stating that-that was the team’s ”best 50 minutes of the season.” LBs Chris White and KJ Wright, finished with 9 tkls a piece. Wright did a remarkable job containing Masoli, and registered 2 Sacks. As for everyone else, here’s a list of their performances: S Charles Mitchell- 7 tkls; CB Corey Broomfield- 6 tkls, INT; LB Emmanuel Gatling- 6 tkls; CB Maurice Langston- 5 tkls, DE Pernell McPhee- 2 sacks, 2 tkls for loss. State finished with 3 Sacks, 10 tackles for a loss (-37 yds), and held Ole Miss on 14 of 17 3rd down tries.
(4) STILL Not Capitalizing on the Opositions’ Miscues- We’ve been pointing it out since the Auburn game. Whether it’s a fumble recovery, an on-side kick, or an INT. Les Koenning has the WORST play-calling in these type situations. At a time when you are supposed to step on the opposition’s neck, we play it so close to the vest, that it usually results in a 3-n-Out. After Halftime, State was unable to move the ball to start the 2nd half and had to punt. On the return, State forced a fumble at the OM 30 yd line. Bad play calling, and State settles for just 3 points (24-9). On another instance in the 4rd Quarter, Corey Broomfield picks off Masoli on the OM 41. Another 3-n-Out. This trend HAS to stop. Start capitalizing! Turnovers are supposed to HURT the opposition.
(5) Offense is Clicking- 498 yds of Total Offense. 210 of those were on the ground, with 288 through the air. State held the ball for 31+ minutes, including 9:49 in the 3rd Quarter, and 8:30 in the 4th. Relf averaged 22.2 yds per completion, and the Dawg rushing attack average 4.2 yds per carry. State had runs of 34 and 71, with completions of 71, 44, and 22. RB Vick Ballard now holds the MSU record for the most TDs in a season by a Bulldog, and tied the Rushing TD record with his 16th.
Dan Mullen: ["Chris did a good job of managing the game. Their plan was to take away the run. They were daring us to throw the ball and we did. On the Egg & Smack Talk: We say it to them, too, they know. That’s what rivalry games are all about. I promise you they’ll always get our best shot every single year. It’s something that’s really important to me and we make an emphasis of it. On the Trophy: We’re going to bring this trophy right back to where it belongs. It’s got a nice trophy case right in our building there. To send our seniors out like Egg Bowl champions just like we did last year is huge thing. On the OM late rally: The one bad thing is we got up 31-9, and I was on our guys, and I told them, 'We cannot take our foot off the gas.' And I felt on our sideline, our coaches, for some reason we felt and put it into cruise control and said, 'Oh, we're good.' And all of a sudden we find ourselves in a football game. Chick-Fil-A Bowl?: One of my goals going into the season was to the opportunity to go to Atlanta. We may get that opportunity now, maybe a couple of weeks later than we originally wanted."]
Dan Mullen OWNS Houston Nutt
I know it may get old because of how much I’ve mentioned it, but I was right, this year will go down as playing a pivotal role in the MSU and TSUN rivalry. It was all up for grabs on Saturday night, and OM could have somewhat halted State’s roll, but the Bulldogs grabbed the momentum in the series. State and OM have completely switched places and appear to be heading in opposite directions. With 2 Egg Bowl victories in a row under his belt, I’m sure that Mullen could sway a recruit or two away from the Rebs, and with a possible 9 win season-could do the same for out of state recruits. In my opinion, Dan Mullen OWNS Houston Nutt on and off the football field. And, as I also predicted, that Mullen would run Nutt out of Oxford in just 2 years (tick-tock Doc), is becoming even more of a possibility. Even now, the rumor mill is already turning out it’s whispers, but the thing is, people can notice how big of an in-state swing has taken place, that it’s not a far fetched idea that Nutt could be gone today or tomorrow. I personally see him staying on, but just for another year. The atmosphere in Oxford is by far as dead as I have ever seen it. I’m not just trying to knock a rival here, I’m just being honest. The only 2 times the stadium came anywhere close to the noise level in Starkville, was on Chris Smith’s fumble, and the score on the next play. Trust me, I know what a 4 win season can do to a stadium’s feel (firsthand), but the Rebels are in danger of a lot more than just having a Black Bear as their mascot. If the Egg Bowl crowd was anything like their other crowds this season, no wonder the Grove was the place to be. Mullen and the Dawgs have done the hard part, now they get the Rebs at home next season, with a chance to make it 3 in a row. Pivotal year? I’d say so.
Anyway, I’ll stop talking about the Egg Bowl. I’m going to act like an Ole Miss fan and act like this rivalry doesn’t mean that much to me. What I’m not going to do, is slip on my sweater-vest and penny loafers.
Miami might have an eye on Mullen and Diaz. Link
Yall see the Iron Bowl? Man, that’s how you blow a game, Bama. Link
LSU falls to Arkansas. Link
Boiseand Nevada was AWESOME, I stayed up and watched live. Boo-hooo. Link
Auburnis #1 in the BCS. BARF. Link
State is now #22 in every poll. Link
Caldwell is out at Vandy. Good Choice. Link
Gators fall BIG to FSU. Link
Your thoughts and opinions on the Egg Bowl?
Is Mullen in control of the rivalry?
Is Chris Relf a ‘true’ duel-threat QB now?