Mississippi State Notebook: Jackson bails out Relf with fumble recovery

STARKVILLE – When offensive linemen score, it’s usually by accident and usually involves bailing out a teammate.
That was the case Thursday night for Gabe Jackson. The redshirt freshman, making his second career start at left guard, pounced on a Chris Relf fumble in the end zone to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.
Relf, MSU’s junior quarterback, dashed right on a keeper from the 2-yard line and fumbled at the 1. The ball bounced into the end zone, where Jackson found it.

Hanrahan gets his
- MSU fullback Patrick Hanrahan said in the preseason that he planned on getting more touches this fall. He’s right.
After just one carry last season, the senior had a relatively big night, carrying the ball three times for 21 yards and catching one pass for four yards.
The 5-foot-11, 235-pound senior had back-to-back carries of 6 and 13 yards in the second quarter, and his catch converted a third down on MSU’s second touchdown drive.
Hanrahan also excels on special teams, and he recovered a fumbled Auburn punt to set up State’s first touchdown.

Not good enough
- As tough as MSU’s defense played against Auburn, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz wasn’t satisfied.
The Bulldogs gave up 348 total yards and 21 first downs. They brought pressure at times but only got Auburn QB Cam Newton on the ground twice.
“We are disappointed with our pass rush,” Diaz said. “Coach (Chris) Wilson stressed all week to our guys up front about not rushing past the quarterback, and I thought we did that too many times. If you do that to him (Newton) or any other quarterback, they are going to punish you.
“I thought he did that and kept drives alive at times.”

Key drive
- The last one. MSU took over at its own 21-yard line with 2:19 to play, but Auburn held firm at its own 41 to keep the Bulldogs out of field-goal range.

Key number
- Three – Number of times Auburn sacked MSU quarterback Chris Relf.

Quotable
- “We know we can play so much better than what we did. That will be the hardest part for the kids. There’s no moral victories, there are no pats on the back.” – MSU defensive coordinator Manny Diaz

Next weekend
- MSU faces its first road test of the year when it visits No. 19 LSU (1-0, 0-0 SEC) for a 6 p.m. showdown on ESPNU.

Bulldog bites
- MSU tight end Marcus Green suffered a knee injury, but it appears minor. He had one catch for 11 yards. … Sophomore Devin Jones drew his first career start at defensive tackle for State. Sophomore receiver Arceto Clark also made his first career start, catching two passes for 28 yards. … Auburn played without senior left tackle Lee Ziemba most of the game after he suffered what appeared to be an ankle injury early in the second quarter. … Middle linebacker Chris White led MSU with 11 tackles, while weakside linebacker K.J. Wright made 10 stops.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal