Mississippi State Preview: Time To Win
Hope you’re all having a fine week, I’m still trying to get over this horrible jet-lag that’s plagued me since I’ve returned home. It’s the absolute worst, the worst I tell ya. Moving on:
Onto Week 2, where Auburn is making a visit to Starkville for their SEC opener. This is a matchup that we should always win, but always find it hard to do so. Maybe Dan Mullen really wants to beat us, or we generally don’t perform well against them? Whatever the reason is, this year it’s yet again – a must win.
There were a lot of good things I saw out of last weeks game, most of which I covered in the game review. Clemson are — to their credit — a decent football team, so we shouldn’t have jumped off a bridge when the game clock hit zero. But, this is a different week, with a different opponent and a different mindset. One thing I hope to see this season is week-to-week progress.
Miss. State and Dan Mullen (particularly Dan Mullen) has been painted as the next best thing in College Football. Something which still baffles me to this day. Did you know they haven’t beaten an SEC West team not named…you get what I’m saying.
However, it is a dangerous football team, with a lot of weapons that could so some serious damage to a rebuilding Auburn team. Frazier will be playing in his first road environment, against a Miss. State team that we don’t know a whole lot about. Offensively, we are going to have to be on point, just like we were last year in this game. Seeing progress out of Frazier is important, and if we see him settle down a bit this week, go through his reads carefully and protect the football, then we’ll be ok. It does mean that we’ll have to rely on the run game, something which was pretty impressive last week. I feel like a broken record when I mention that we still don’t have a second wide receiver stepping up to help Kiehl out consistently.
Running the ball more in the red zone can’t hurt either. Last week, the offensive play-calling was pretty solid, but there was a non-existent run game in the red zone (which was becoming our strength). The offensive line will also have to be on hand as well. Last week was a good start for several young guys, and I hope they build on that and improve.
Defensively, we’ll have to focus a bit more on stopping the run this week. I saw a lot of complaints as to why our defensive backs still stick in soft zone coverage, one reason is being unable to stop the run. Until we can stop the run, we’ll continue to do so – which is why the defensive tackles need to step up and plug some holes. VanGorder said during the week that we could see some personnel changes in this one, I’m not too caught up in the “we should play this guy and that guy” crowd, I just want the best players on the field all the time. He did say in the summer that we should expect improvement as the season wears on, as opposed to fall training camp, which is why I’m not overly worried about last weeks results or player choices. We may have a better day pass rushing – Tyler Russell is no Tahj Boyd, and runs the spread from the pocket. I’d like to see the results we get against a stationary Quarterback.
This game will come down to who can make the most defensive stops, since we may be about to witness another shootout. As long as we execute our game plans, plug the run and score some points, I think we’ll win this one decisively – but those are big asks.
Prediction: Auburn 24-20 Miss. State.