Bulldogs' defense stymies Frazier

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier turned to his left, expecting to see some open field on a naked bootleg. But Cam Lawrence was waiting on him and dropped Frazier for a 6-yard loss.
It was that kind of day for Frazier, and that kind of day for Mississippi State’s defense. In Saturday’s 28-10 win over Auburn, the Bulldogs didn’t allow an offensive touchdown and forced five turnovers, including three interceptions of Frazier.
“That comes from film study,” Lawrence, a senior linebacker, said of his play. “There are certain keys that’ll kind of give things like that away, and I was just doing my job really, staying at the level of the quarterback, doing my job. Good things happen when you do your job.”
Auburn gained 216 total yards, and 126 of those came in the fourth quarter with the game pretty well in hand. The Tigers had 91 yards on the ground, led by Mike Blakely’s 42 yards.
“We’ve talked about the plan since the summer: You’ve got to be able to eliminate the run game and force these guys to beat us throwing the football,” defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said.
“We wanted to force them into a drop-back game,” head coach Dan Mullen said, “and I thought we did that.”
Lawrence led MSU with 10 tackles and had one of the team’s two sacks. Johnthan Banks had two interceptions to move him into second on the school careers list with 14, two behind first-place Walt Harris.
Smith plays it safe
For now at least, MSU will simply get out of Tobias Smith what it can.
The starting right guard was in and out of the game Saturday as coaches try to protect the senior’s fragile knee, which he tore up last season. Justin Malone got a lot of snaps for the second straight week.
Mullen said after the game that as recently as February, there was a question whether Smith would play at all this season after suffering his third major injury in college.
“Just playing it safe,” Smith said. “Justin Malone, he has matured enough to be on the field, so you don’t want to hold anyone back that’s ready on the bench.”
Key drive
Auburn scored on a 100-yard kickoff return by Onterio McCalebb to open the second half, but MSU responded with a 75-yard drive. Tyler Russell hit Chad Bumphis from 13 yards for the touchdown and a 14-10 lead.
Key number
Five – MSU forced five turnovers and committed only one. Through two games, its turnover margin is plus-7.
Quotable
“We’ve always thought we could compete with people in the SEC, beat people in the SEC. It feels good to go out there and get a win against somebody other than TSUN.” – MSU cornerback Johnthan Banks, on beating an SEC West team besides Ole Miss.
Next weekend
MSU steps back out of conference play for its first ever trip to Troy on Saturday for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
Bulldogs bites
Under Mullen, MSU is now 22-0 when leading after three quarters. It led Auburn 21-10. … Russell’s 20 completions were a career high, and it was his first 200-yard passing game against an SEC foe. … Safety Corey Broomfield had seven tackles and two tackles-for-loss. … Tight end Marcus Green has three TD receptions this year, matching his career high (2009).
brad.locke@journalinc.com


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