Mississippi State (3-4) at Kentucky (3-4) Game Preview

October 28, 2011

News, Sports

Location: Lexington, Kentucky

Time: 6:00 pm Central

Cable: FOX Sports South 

Satellite:  DIRECTV Channel 646, DISH Network Channel 420

Radio:  WFCA 107.9, French Camp, Mississippi.

Listen Onlinehttp://tunein.com/radio/WFCA-1079-s28690/

Initial Analysis: The Dan Mullen-lead Mississippi State Bulldogs went into the bye week reeling from their third heartbreaking loss of the season. Mullen said he would use the bye week to do some self-evaluating of the coaching staff and football team as a whole before preparing for Kentucky. The question everyone had coming into the week was who would be under center after Tyler Russell started had his first career start versus South Carolina. Mullen hasn’t tipped his hand but many expect Russell to draw his second career start with Relf playing on a situational but who knows what Mullen is thinking. If Russell starts, he needs to settle into offense and take control of the position after a sub-par 11/29 completion performance versus South Carolina.

 Offensive Stats (in yards):

KENTUCKY (Pro-Style)

2011 Scoring Offense: 16.6

2011 Passing Yards Per Game: 117.0

2011 Rushing Yards Per Game: 142.9

MISSISSIPPI STATE (Spread Option/No-Huddle)

2011 Scoring Offense: 24.0

2011 Passing Yards Per Game: 196.1

2011 Rushing Yards Per Game: 180.1

 Defensive Stats (in yards):

KENTUCKY (Multiple Front)

2011 Scoring Defense: 27.3

2011 Passing Yards Per Game Allowed: 183.0

2011 Rushing Yards Per Game Allowed: 205.7

MISSISSIPPI STATE (Multiple Front)

2011 Scoring Defense: 19.3

2011 Passing Yards Per Game Allowed: 188.4

2011 Rushing Yards Per Game Allowed: 152.0

Players To Watch:

KENTUCKY

A. Morgan Newton: If the Cats are to pull this game off, they are going to need Newton to play to his potential. He has great run ability and potential, and MSU’s Defense has had a problematic pattern of history with mobile quarterbacks, which could establish a successful recipe against the Bulldogs.

B. CoShik Williams: Williams looked good versus Jacksonville State and has the speed to get outside on the MSU Defense. He could be one of the key players if there is to be a Wildcat victory, and he is someone to keep your eye on.

C. Winston Guy: Guy leads a good Wildcat secondary and could make a few plays in the passing game if Russell leaves one or two balls hanging in mid-air.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

A. Tyler Russell: Russell has finally gotten his shot and this game could go a long way toward cementing his spot as MSU’s starting quarterback.

B. Vick Ballard: Ballard has struggled to get going since Tobias Smith’s injury derailed the running game. The offensive line finally has a set line up and that should bode well for Ballard and State.  He should be able to re-establish his dominant ways versus a weak Kentucky run defense.

C. Fletcher Cox: Cox is finally starting to dominate the way many expected him to before the season. If he continues his stellar play, then it could spell a long day for the Kentucky offense up front.

Fletcher Cox, Linebacker, Mississippi State University

Fletcher Cox, LB, Mississippi State

 Three Keys To Victory:

KENTUCKY

A. Attack The Edges:  MSU has struggled on the outside for years, and the Wildcats Running Back CoShik Williams has the speed to beat them there. They should attack the Bulldogs all night on the outside and in the flat if they hope to have success running the ball.

B. Pressure Russell Early and Often: Russell has made a few bad decisions in the past when pressured. Look for the Wildcats to put some pressure on the inexperienced Russell early to force him to make some of those critical mistakes.

C. Minimize Turnovers: If the Cats want to stay in this game, they have to minimize their turnover percentage. If they turn the ball over, the Bulldogs will feed off of them all evening and take control of the game.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

A. Play Extremely High Tempo: The Wildcats don’t have the depth the Bulldogs do and that should be taken advantage of, in my opinion. The Bulldogs should play with extremely high intensity, which in turn should wear down the Wildcats sooner than later.

B. Get Russell In Rhythm: Tyler Russell didn’t really get in a good rhythm versus South Carolina, and I thought that was part of the reason he could not really get offense moving. I think the coaches should give him some quick hitters to build his confidence early on to set up the passing game down field.

C. Be Aggressive Defensively:  Kentucky’s offense, quite frankly, isn’t very good. Defensive Coordinator Chris Wilson should take it to them from the opening bell.

BONUS, MISSISSIPPI STATE: Forget First Seven Games 

To ensure victory, The Bulldogs have to forget about the first seven games and just focus on a strong finish in every game this season. I think, considering the way the defense is playing, that State really could be in every game the rest of the year, including Alabama and Arkansas. I don’t see them going undefeated, but pulling a W on four out of five is not out of the question.

Final Analysis:

This is a game that’s a must win for the hopes of both teams becoming bowl eligible. Neither team has a SEC Conference victory this year and getting one would help instill confidence the rest of season. I think many expect MSU to struggle to beat Kentucky, but I feel they will roll. I may end up eating crow on this prediction, but I feel the Bulldogs can really start to click after a year downtrodden with problems and pressure-laden with questions from several angles.

My Prediction: Mississippi State 35 – Kentucky 7

Follow me on Twitter: @JeremiahShort26

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Mississippi State Bulldogs

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2 Comments on “Mississippi State (3-4) at Kentucky (3-4) Game Preview”

  1. Dick Mahoney Says:

    Incisive analysis! How about doing one on the stock market?

    Reply

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