By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s offensive line was struck another blow Thursday night, and it portended bad things.
Starting right guard Tobias Smith went down with a left knee injury on the game’s opening drive and never returned, and that didn’t help MSU’s cause in a 19-6 loss to LSU.
It forced center Quentin Saulsberry – who came in banged up after suffering a sprained knee at Auburn five days earlier – to move to right guard. Redshirt freshman Dillon Day took over at center.
MSU was already without starting left tackle James Carmon, who injured his knee against Auburn. Redshirt freshman Blaine Clausell started there.
State’s running game struggled, totaling only 52 yards, and LSU harassed MSU’s quarterbacks all night to the tune of four sacks. The Bulldogs managed only 193 total yards.
“It shouldn’t really make a difference,” Clausell said of the reconfigured line. “You’ve just got to be ready whenever. We practice shuffling guys to get ready for moments like this. Tonight was one of those nights. We didn’t make the big plays we needed to.”
MSU said Smith’s knee would receiver further evaluation, but no specifics on the nature of the injury were provided.
Eulls makes plays
Redshirt freshman Kaleb Eulls is quickly making an impact on the defensive line.
MSU’s front line didn’t make many big plays against LSU, but Eulls had a couple of his own. In the third quarter, with MSU trailing 6-3, Eulls sacked LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee to force and third-and-long. After the Tigers punted, MSU hit a game-tying field goal.
Later in the quarter, Eulls made a tackle-for-loss of tailback Spencer Ware to help stall an LSU drive that ended in a field goal. That was the only carry on which Ware, who netted 107 rushing yards, lost yardage.
Eulls finished with three tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss and the sack, the first of his career.
“I was very excited for him,” junior linebacker Cam Lawrence said. “I know he was hyped. It was great to see young guys making plays out there.”
Jack Cristil, the longtime MSU radio announcer who retired in the spring, was honored at halftime. His name was unveiled as a permament fixture on the east side of the stadium.
Cristil began doing play-by-play for MSU football in 1953. He’s one of four former MSU football greats to be honored this year. The others – linebacker Johnie Cooks, linebacker D.D. Lewis and quarterback Jackie Parker – will be recognized individually later this season.
LSU led 9-6 entering the fourth quarter, then drove 80 yards in seven plays to score the game’s first touchdown. Lee hit Rueben Randle for a 19-yard scoring strike with 11:56 to go.
MSU wasn’t strong in single pass coverage all night, and Randle got loose down the right side on the 19-yard TD. The way LSU’s defense was playing, that 10-point lead was more than large enough.
37:50 – That’s how long LSU’s offense held the ball, using a punishing running game and efficient passing game to keep MSU’s offense off the field.
“I like the effort our guys played with. I’m not upset with any of our guys’ performance. When we play great teams, we’ve got to get a little bit better.” – MSU head coach Dan Mullen
Brandon Maye, the senior transfer from Clemson, made his first career start at middle linebacker in place of junior Brandon Wilson. Maye made four tackles. … Thursday marked only the third time since 1980 that LSU scored one touchdown or less against MSU. The Tigers, had four field goals, though, giving it nine three-pointers versus State the last two years. … Safety Charles Mitchell had 16 tackles for MSU, while cornerback Corey Broomfield had 10. Both were career highs.