BRAD LOCKE: Unbeaten Bulldogs a perfect puzzle

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

As the college football season enters its seventh weekend, Mississippi State has played five games, and I’m still having trouble pinning this team down.
Bob Carskadon, my colleague at Bulldog Sports Radio, said it well after MSU’s 27-14 win at Kentucky last weekend: “Weird for MSU to have a two-touchdown, SEC road win and you don’t really know what to think about it.”
That’s how I feel about this whole season. State is 5-0 (2-0 SEC) and ranked 19th in the country entering Saturday’s home game with Tennessee. I have no idea what to make of it, though.
You can blame the schedule, because MSU hasn’t been tested by a real team. Its first five opponents have a combined record of 8-19.
Then you add in the fact that the Bulldogs have struggled to be consistent. They haven’t dominated in the fashion I thought they would, which means either my expectations were too high or the players have just had trouble staying motivated during a soft opening slate.
What do the players think? Depends on who you ask, and I asked a few of them whether MSU is still trying to find its identity and figure out exactly what it’s capable of accomplishing.
Senior linebacker Cam Lawrence sounded a positive tone.
“We kind of established our identity in training camp,” he said. “We knew who we were going to be and what we were capable of. I think we’re just on a roll. We’re still getting better every day.”
Senior defensive tackle Josh Boyd agreed with the continual improvement part, but, “We’re still trying to figure out ourselves and play better each week.”
That tells me there is some healthy self-examination going on.
I wrote earlier in the week about how the MSU offense hasn’t been as productive as we thought it would be. Coach Dan Mullen knows that more needs to be done, and so does quarterback Tyler Russell, who’s rated ninth in the SEC in pass efficiency.
“I feel like I really haven’t done anything,” he said. “A lot of people say, he has 10 touchdowns versus one interception, but there’s a lot more I think I can do and this offense can do, and I’m excited that people are talking about our offense and that we are doing some good things.
“But I know deep down we have a long way to go, and it’s a lot more things we can do.”
This team has been solid. It’s undefeated. But Russell said it well.
MSU can be more.
Brad Locke (brad.locke@journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at DJournal.com.