By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Corey Broomfield and Johnthan Banks promise the turn-overs will start coming in greater numbers.
A year after forcing 25 turnovers, third-most in the SEC, Mississippi State has only 10 takeaways at the midway of the 2010 season.
Of those 10, five are interceptions; the Bulldogs had 17 last season, and five of those were returned for touchdowns.
In last week’s 47-24 win at Houston, State came up with a season-high three turnovers, including two interceptions by Broomfield. He took the first one 27 yards for a score, the Bulldogs’ first pick-six of the season and the third of Broomfield’s young career.
The third-year sophomore, who had six interceptions in 2009, feels the defense has missed quite a few opportunities this year to get the ball back.
“If y’all were in the team meetings, y’all would see how many opportunities we’ve had throughout the year that we didn’t capitalize on,” Broomfield said. “So last week was kind of, you got just a little glimpse of what could happen. There were even more turnovers out there on the field that we didn’t capitalize on.
“So by the end of the year, you’ll really get to see.”
Interceptions, or the lack thereof, do not tell the whole story of MSU’s secondary. While the Bulldogs haven’t been burning quarterbacks as often as last season, quarterbacks haven’t been burning the Bulldogs, either.
In 2009, MSU gave up seven pass plays of 50 or more yards, including four by the halfway point of the season. This year, State has given up only one such play, a 57-yarder by Alcorn State in a 49-16 MSU win.
“We don’t have the turnovers that we had last year, but if you go back and check the stats, people don’t have the yards they had on us,” Banks said. “People don’t score a lot of points. LSU scored 29 points on us, and that was probably the worst game we played all season.”
The Bulldogs are giving up 17.5 points per game, which ranks fourth in the SEC. They rank sixth in total defense (328.2 yards per game).
State is allowing 215 passing yards per game, which is eighth in the league.
So getting some turn-overs can only make an already tough defense even more stout, and perhaps last week was a turning point for that.
“We hope so,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “We’ve been working on it all season. You just show them that sooner or later, they’re going to keep coming. We don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary and the turnovers will come over.”
A little earlier in the week, Banks said almost the exact same thing.
“We know the turnovers are going to come,” said Banks, who had four interceptions last season. “We’re still learning a lot of stuff, but we know a lot, so the turnovers are going to come.”
Tonight’s game at a glance
- Where: Gainesville, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)
- Kickoff: 6 p.m.
- Television: ESPNU.
- Radio: MSU Network; XM 199; Sirius 219.
- Records: MSU 4-2 (1-2 SEC), Florida 4-2 (2-2).
- Rankings: MSU unranked; Florida No. 22 AP, USA Today.
- Series: Florida leads 33-18-2.
- Last meeting: Florida won 29-19 on Oct. 24, 2009, despite Tim Tebow having two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Johnthan Banks.
- Coaches – MSU: Dan Mullen, 9-9 (second year); Florida: Urban Meyer, 61-12 at Florida (sixth year), 100-20 overall (10th year).
- Statistical leaders – MSU: QB Chris Relf 51-86-3, 675 yards, 5 TDs passing, 57-295, 1 TD rushing; WR Chad Bumphis 32-431, 4 TDs; LB Chris White 46 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks; SS Charles Mitchell 43 tackles, 1.5 TFL. Florida: QB John Brantley 105-169-4, 1,056 yards, 6 TDs; WR Deonte Thompson 23-328, 0 TDs; SS Ahmad Black 50 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 3 INTs; LB Jelani Jenkins 35 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack.
- Trends: MSU is trying for its first four-game winning streak since 1999, when it won its first eight games. … Florida has lost two straight and hasn’t dropped three in a row since 1999. … MSU has outscored its opponents 58-17 in the first quarter. … State has scored two non-offensive touchdowns this season, and they’ve come in the last two games.
- Notes: Not only did Mullen work at Florida under Meyer, so did MSU offensive line coach John Hevesy and strength coach Matt Balis. … State hasn’t won in Gainesville since 1965, a stretch of 16 games. … Bumphis has already surpassed his 2009 receiving total of 375 yards. … Florida leads the SEC with 13 interceptions made. … MSU leads the league in time of possession, averaging 30:59 per game.
- Summing it up: “Everybody’s on scholarship (in the SEC), everybody’s got athletes, everybody’s got guys that are on scholarship. So it all comes down to who wants it the most.” – MSU offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry
- Prediction: Florida, 31-17.