Kneauxing the Enemy
Record 3-3, 1-2 in SEC
Trip to the Golden Triangle
This is one of those games. It is a game in which LSU has almost nothing to gain and everything to lose. They are facing an opponent, for the most part, which has been offensively inept in conference play this season. When these two team faced each other last season, the chief offensive weapon for Mississippi State was the quarterback position.
In their 56-23 loss to Auburn two weeks ago, freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader accounted for 298 yards of State's offense, 89 on the ground and 209 in the air. In last week's 20-10 loss to a dismal Tennessee team, Shrader had 62 yards running and 67 yards passing. Shrader has been sharing the quarterbacking duties this year with senior Tommy Stevens, a graduate student transfer from Penn State, which, incidentally, is where MSU second year head coach Joe Moorhead served as offensive coordinator, before migrating to StarkVegas. Stevens has been injured, and benched for poor performance this season. The quarterbacking position has been a trouble spot, but Shrader has performed adequately when given the chance. Junior quarterback Keytaon Thompson entered the transfer portal before the season, then changed his mind. Thompson showed promise in his freshman season.
Moorhead, who is the play caller for his squad, was supposedly a top offensive coordinator at Penn State. He has not been able to build a consistent offense for the Bulldogs. Penn State is still rolling. The Bulldogs are still trying to find offensive consistency.
Actually, the best offensive performer for the Bulldogs is junior runningback Kylin Hill, the second leading rusher in the SEC. Hill has rushed for 609 yards this season. He averages 5.1 yards per carry, and has rushed for five touchdowns this year. In the lone State SEC win against Kentucky, Hill ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns. In their last two losses against Auburn and Tennessee respectively, Hill has rushed for 45 and 13 yards. Stability at the quarterback position, or lack thereof, has had an effect on the rushing game. It has also had a an effect on the Bulldog passing game.
Mississippi State is last in the league in passing. They are last in the SEC in receiving with a team total of 88 receptions, an average of 11 receptions per game. As a team, they have eight touchdown receptions for the season.
There are three returning starters from 2018, for MSU at the receiving position. They are senior wide receivers Steven Guidry and Deddrick Thomas. Junior wideout Osirus Mitchell is the other starter. Last season Guidry and Mitchell had trouble catching colds, not to mention footballs. Mitchell, so far, has half of his team's touchdown receptions with four. He has 335 yards in receptions for the campaign, averaging 55.8 yards receiving per game.
Mississippi State, as a team, is averaging 184.2 yards in receiving per contest. That is only 50 yards more than a single LSU receiver is capable of receiving in a game this year.
MSU returned three solid offensive linemen, including senior center Darryl Williams. Junior right guard Stewart Reese, and junior right tackle Greg Eiland returned to give state a tough right side of the offensive line. The Bulldog offense is prone to give up sacks.
The Bulldog defense is average. Junior safety C. J. Morgan is the team's leading tackler with 45, and 24 solos. Junior linebacker Erroll Thompson is the second leading tackler on the team with 44, 21 unassisted.
MSU allows 394 total yards per game, 230.7 by air. The defense lost seven starters from last year.
Mississippi State is like a band which is off key. One part of the band is playing in flat, the other has poorly tuned instruments. Some members are playing eighth notes and others are not playing any notes. The threat is they can wake up on Saturday and be in tune. Games like this are potentially dangerous. As seen from the prior two weeks, highly ranked teams can tumble from a lofty perch by playing close games against mediocre teams (see Clemson vs North Carolina two weeks ago). They do not have to lose. Or, if they do lose to a lightly regarded team, it could be a catastrophic blow to national title ambitions (See Georgia vs. South Carolina last week).
We are still in Deadly October.