BRAD LOCKE: MSU defense got wakeup call from Troy

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

Cam Lawrence believes that sometimes you just need a swift kick to the rear end. That’s what Mississippi State got in Saturday’s 30-24 win over Troy, a game that came dangerously close to being a major upset – and a major setback for the Bulldogs. The most disturbing part was the 572 yards Troy gained against what is supposed to be one of the SEC’s better defenses.
The Trojans ran and passed at will. Lawrence, MSU’s senior weakside linebacker, said the players took it personally.
“Coming from a defensive guy, if anybody runs the ball on us, we take it as a stab to the heart,” Lawrence sad. “It’s good, it’s something we all need. … You always need a little kick to the butt every now and then.”
MSU, 3-0 and ranked 23rd heading into this week’s game against South Alabama, can’t afford another game like the last one. Well, it could probably play that way this weekend and still get a win, but then that would give reason for legitimate concern about this team.
I wouldn’t judge the Bulldogs too harshly based on the Troy game, because it’s just one game. That performance was not indicative of how good this team is or can be.
Every team is allowed a game like this, so long as it winds up a win. That’s the overarching positive taken from the game, was that MSU didn’t blow it like it might have in the past.
“In the past, a lot of times, when adversity hit, a lot of people looked around and wonder who’s going to make the play,” head coach Dan Mullen said. “Now, when adversity seems to hit, a lot of our seniors and star players are stepping up and making the plays.”
Mullen said the focus has been much sharper in practices this week, and that’s what’ll happen when you’ve got a sore rumpus. While the players certainly knew they were supposed to take Troy seriously – and they said as much last week – their actions spoke louder.
Offensive line coach John Hevesy said his group let up in the third quarter. MSU had a 23-7 lead at halftime and should’ve stepped on Troy’s throat.
“I was a little (angry) at all of them about it,” Hevesy said. “There’s not one pinpoint, I think all of them had at one point or another their little thing that you let your guard down for a second, and the problem was it was not all five at once.”
That goes for the whole team. There was a lack of cohesiveness and urgency, and they know it.
They also know it can’t happen again.
Brad Locke (brad.locke@journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at DJournal.com.