Music City Bowl – Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest: Game Review

December 31, 2011

News, Sports

Vick Ballard

Vick Ballard

Instant Analysis: The Dan Mullen-led Mississippi State Bulldogs came into the Music City Bowl looking to end the season on a high note. The Bulldogs were able to achieve their goal, defeating Wake Forest 23-17. Vick Ballard led the way, with 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs finished the season 7-6.

Things I Liked

Activity On Defense: I really liked how the defense showed several different looks throughout the game. Cam Lawrence even lined up at Defensive Tackle on one play.

Skinner’s Early Playmaking: Deontae Skinner only ended up with two tackles, but they were very impressive.

Run Game Dominance: It was nice to see the run game be dominant to end the season.

Things I Didn’t Like

Play Calling: The play calling in this game and the whole season was atrocious. There have to be some major changes on the offensive side of the ball before next season.

Poor Safety Play: Nickoe Whitley was definitely missed tonight. The safeties missed several tackles and struggled in pass coverage.

Clock Management End Of First Half: The clock management at the end of the first half was probably some of the worst I’ve seen in my time of watching football at this level. This is an area Mullen must improve upon as his career progresses.

Key Stats

MSU 253 Rushing Yards: The Bulldogs, led by Vick Ballard, dominated on the ground — as I mentioned above.

MSU 3 First Half Turnovers: Mississippi State was very sloppy in the first half, and it almost looked like they weren’t ready to play.

Wake Forest 63 Yards Rushing: The Bulldog run defense allowed an early touchdown, but they eventually dominated the Demon Deacons rushing attack.

Players To Watch

Wake Forest

Tanner Price: Price threw for 216 yards, but it took 46 passes to achieve it. He didn’t turn the ball over, but did get sacked six times.

Chris Givins: The Demon Deacons tried to get Givins going, but he only managed 54 yards on the night.

Kyle Wilber: Wilber had a nice game, with five tackles and two tackles for loss.

Mississippi State

Chris Relf: Relf threw two interceptions, but he did have 194 total yards. The Senior quarterback also threw for a touchdown.

Vick Ballard: Ballard balled out in his last game as a Bulldog. He definitely made himself a lot of money.

Fletcher Cox and Johnthan Banks: Cox and Banks both played well tonight. I personally enjoyed watching the talented juniors in what is likely their final game as Bulldogs.

Three Keys To Victory

Wake Forest

1. Hit the Edges: The Demon Deacons got around the edges a few times, but their rushing attack couldn’t really get it going.

2. Minimize Turnovers: The Demon Deacons didn’t turn the ball over, but the Bulldogs easily proved to be the superior team.

3. Attack The Safeties: They attempted to attack the safeties deep, but their quarterback Tanner Price struggled throwing deep all night.

Mississippi State

1. Get Relf In Rhythm: The coaching staff obviously didn’t get Relf in rhythm. The play calling to begin the game was baffling at best.

2. Establish The Power Run Game: The Bulldogs definitely established the power run game. The offensive line deserves some credit for the job they did.

3. Bump ‘N Run: I was a little shocked that Coach Wilson didn’t use bump ‘n run on the Demon Deacon receivers.

Final Analysis: Coach Mullen will now turn his focus toward finishing the 2012 recruiting season strong. The Bulldogs are rated in the top 25 nationally on most websites, but they still have some signatures that need to be secured. The bowl win definitely gives them momentum heading into next season.

The Real Story Players Of The Game

Fletcher Cox and Vick Ballard: Cox and Ballard both had great games. So, I decided to give the award to both players.

Fletcher Cox

Fletcher Cox


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