By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen tried to shoulder the blame for Mississippi State’s 38-13 loss to Texas A&M. But Johnthan Banks wasn’t going to let him.
Mullen, MSU’s fourthyear coach, said the loss was “100 percent” his fault, and added that he didn’t have them ready to take on the Aggies and their dynamic quarterback, Johnny Manziel.
“In every aspect of it I did not have them ready to go, and I’ll make sure we do a much better job of that this week,” Mullen said.
“It’s my fault, too,” said Banks, a senior cornerback. “He made me a captain of this team, and it’s my job to help him get our team ready and have us prepared and ready to play.”
It’s the second consecutive disappointing outing for State, which lost 38-7 to No. 1 Alabama the week before. In both games, MSU fell behind 21-0 early in the game and was still scoreless by halftime.
“Coach Mullen had stressed to us the whole week it was a big game for us,” tailback LaDarius Perkins said. “Everybody knew it was a big game. But like I said, it came down to execution.”
Tackling was an issue.
“Really, everything we saw on film was exactly what we expected,” linebacker Cam Lawrence said. “We had guys in the right place, we just have to wrap up, make the tackle.”
RUSSELL TAKES LICKS
Quarterback Tyler Russell was sacked just once but took several hits, and Texas A&M’s defensive line harassed him all game. That made it tough for Russell to make his reads, especially on third downs.
MSU was just 2 of 10 on third downs. Russell was 19 of 30 for 212 yards, a TD and an interception.
“We had a good game plan, we had a really good week of practice,” Russell said. “And it just comes down to execution, we didn’t execute when we needed to execute.”
Russell’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Chad Bumphis in the third quarter was his 16th of the season, tying the school’s single season record set by Derrick Taite in 1995.
“It means nothing right now,”
Russell said. “I’d have felt better if we win the game.”
Texas A&M set the tone from its first possession, rapidly marching 73 yards in 10 plays and using only 2:41 off the clock. Ben Malena scored on a 1-yard run for a 7-0 lead.
97 – Texas A&M ran 97 plays, while MSU ran just 57.
“We’ll bounce back. We’ve got to.” – MSU cornerback Johnthan Banks
MSU heads to Baton Rouge to take on No. 5 LSU. The Bulldogs haven’t won there since 1991.
A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is 5-3 against top-25 teams, 2-2 this year. … Redshirt freshman linebacker Benardrick McKinney had a team-high 14 tackles, Lawrence had 13 and Nickoe Whitley 12. … Arceto Clark’s five catches tied a career high.
… MSU blocked a field goal at the end of the first half.