Tennessee-Martin @ Mississippi State: Game Review

November 6, 2011

News, Sports

Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State

Vick Ballard, RB, Mississippi State

Instant Analysis: The Bulldogs came into the Homecoming game against the Skyhawks looking to fine tune some things as they prepare to face Alabama on November 12th. They did just that, defeating the Skyhawks 55-17 in a game they dominated from the opening bell.  Vick Ballard led the way with 102 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs played a little loose on defense, but took care of business and are one game away from bowl eligibility heading into the stretch run of the season.

Things I Liked

Run Game: Ballard looked good running the ball and the line did a solid job blocking for him. I really liked how Nick Griffin ran the ball late in the game. He still obviously lacks the burst after ACL surgery, but I think he could be good.

Young LBs Playing: I liked the fact that Chris Hughes, Ferlando Bohanna, and Christian Holmes got reps in second half. Their playing time could prove valuable if one of starters goes down to injury.

Wildcat Formation: Jameon Lewis got to run in the Wildcat and I think it could be used late in season to generate more offense.

 Things I Didn’t Like

Lack of Rotation at Receiver:  The receivers didn’t rotate much in the first half, even though the team went no-huddle. The talent drop-off isn’t that substantial between the first and second teams, so I don’t understand why they didn’t rotate more.

D-Line Play: The defensive line failed to get push all night and didn’t put any pressure on the quarterback. Cox and the defensive line must bring their A game next week versus Alabama as this performance was unacceptable.

Key Stats

MSU 288 Rushing Yards:  The MSU run game played up to form, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, with MSU about to host Alabama after they had to contend with LSU this weekend.

MSU 8 Penalties:  The Bulldogs had eight penalties for 60 yards; they will need to clean that up. They will get blown out with those type of mental errors when they face Alabama.

UT-Martin 269 Rush Yards: The Bulldogs gave up 269 rushing yards to a FCS team. This is unacceptable from one of better run defenses in the SEC.

Players To Watch

Tennessee-Martin

Derek Carr:  Carr threw for 167 yards and a touchdown.  Carr didn’t light it up but did a good job of managing the Skyhawk offense.

Jason McNair and Tevin Barksdale:  McNair and Barksdale combined for 175 yards on the night. They helped lead an impressive Skyhawk rushing attack.

Ben Johnson:  The walk-on linebacker was all over the field Saturday with 13 tackles to lead the Skyhawks.

Mississippi State

Michael Carr:  I don’t think I saw Carr play all night.

Chris Hughes: Hughes got a chance to see some action but went down with an injury in the third quarter.

Darius Slay:  Slay got a chance to play but didn’t have a major impact on the game.

Three Keys To Victory

Tennessee-Martin

Hope MSU Shoots Self In Foot:  MSU made some mental errors, but ultimately they were just flat better than the Skyhawks of UT-Martin.

Take Shots: They were oddly conservative but were able to run the ball rather effectively.

Blitz Every Play: They didn’t seem to be very aggressive defensively, which I was shocked by.  It could have merely been shadowed by an over-matched opponent in the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State

Be Efficient: The Bulldogs made some mental errors, and the passing game was inefficient at times.

Play Young Guys: They were able to get a chance to play young guys like Dylan Favre, Nick Griffin, and some freshmen offensive linemen.

Keep Everyone Healthy: They were able to accomplish that outside of Hughes getting hurt.

Final Analysis: The Bulldogs now will get ready to face #2 Alabama next week in Starkville. The Crimson Tide will be looking to take out their frustration after a tough loss against LSU, but this is the type of game MSU must win if they are to take it to the next level.  I will be the first to say that Alabama is the stronger team, but up-and-coming programs have to beat a contender before they can become one themselves.

Player of the Game:  Vick Ballard

@JeremiahShort26

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