MSU NOTEBOOK: Familiar tale before halftime

8TB6_MSU_primary_logoBy Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State has had its share of problems this season.

Possibly the most recurring theme throughout the year has been the Bulldogs’ inability to close out the first half without letting their opponents score.

Alabama scored its lone first-half touchdown on MSU with 20 seconds to go before intermission marking the sixth time the Bulldogs have surrendered a score in the final 2:16 before halftime.

“I wish I had a great answer but when you go break down the film it’s something different every time,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “If it was one thing we could go fix that. It’s not one thing, it’s a lot of things. So you have to play for every second of those 60 minutes.”

In those six letdowns, State has given up four touchdowns and two field goals.

Five of the scores have been with 31-seconds or less. The Bulldogs also gave up a game-winning touchdown to Auburn with 10-seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

Familiar faces

Four members of Mississippi State’s coaching staff had previous stints at Alabama. Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins served as the Crimson Tide’s director of player personnel in 2007, offensive coordinator Les Koenning held the same position in Tuscaloosa from 2001-02 and was a graduate assistant there in 1984 and defensive line coach David Turner coached defensive ends at Alabama in 2006.

Cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend was a four-year starter in the Tide’s secondary from 1994-97 earning first team All-SEC honors in 1996.

Key drive

MSU gave up its sixth score just before halftime this season. The Tide drove 78-yards in six plays to score with 20-seconds remaining when AJ McCarron connected with Brian Volger from 18-yards out to go ahead 10-0.

Key number – 57,211

Attendance at the game, the 4th largest crowd at Davis Wade Stadium.

Quotable

“It was big for my confidence but it still hurts to lose. We’ve just got to get back to work. I’d rather win than get two picks any day.” – MSU sophomore cornerback Taveze Calhoun, who had two interceptions off AJ McCarron

Next weekend

The Bulldogs hit the road for Arkansas in their final away game of the year. Kickoff against the Razorbacks on Saturday in Little Rock is 11:21 a.m. on SEC TV.

Bulldog bites

DT Quay Evans did not dress for the fourth straight game. … QB Dak Prescott is listed as day-to-day, according to Dan Mullen. … S Kendrick Market led the team in tackles with 10, a career-high. …Market and DE A.J. Jefferson forced fumbles. … LBs Beniquez Brown and Benardrick McKinney recovered fumbles. … DT Chris Jones of Houston had MSU’s only sack. … MSU has now lost 25 straight against top 10 opponents and is 1-5 against No. 1-ranked teams.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com