MSU’s offense picks up pace

NASHVILLE – MSU employed a no-huddle look from the first snap of Saturday’s 15-3 win over Vanderbilt, and even though the offense sputtered, the pace was a good one.
“I thought we handled it well,” quarterback Tyson Lee said. “We felt we wanted to implement it this week, and I don’t think Vanderbilt was ready for it, because we hadn’t done much of it. I think we executed it well.”
Coach Dan Mullen has had his team working on it since the spring, but he only felt comfortable now putting it into action. Lee and his platoon partner, Chris Relf, still have some work to do.
State converted only 2 of 15 third-down attempts.
“I think our guys managed it pretty well. I think we need to have a couple of bigger plays in the course of a game,” Mullen said. “As the season goes on we’re going to find ways our young guys that are gaining this experience, are going to find ways to make those plays as they get used to playing more and more.”

Brauchle settling in
– Since missing his first two field goal attempts of the season, juco transfer Sean Brauchle has found his comfort zone. He’s made five consecutive since the rough start.
Against Vandy, he hit from 44, 27 and 49 yards. “It takes a little while to adapt. I found that out. You’ve got to find your comfort zone, and I hit it,” he said.
The 49-yarder gave MSU a 9-3 lead with 1 minute, 52 seconds left in the third quarter. The wet conditions – it poured prior to the game and drizzled off and on after kickoff – didn’t bother him at all.
“All week we practiced in it. All week in Starkville it was rainy,” Brauchle said. “We’re not going to go inside, we’re going to practice outside every day.”

Third-down struggles
– MSU’s third-down struggles might’ve had something to do with the play calls. Of its 15 third downs, MSU ran the ball seven times, and not just on third-and-short.
“They were playing a bunch of nickel and dime packages on us, we thought maybe we could get the crease on the run against the nickel or dime look,” Mullen said. “I think we hit a couple. We just missed a couple, and there’s some things that we really have to correct on the film to get those fixed that I really think we could’ve been a little bit more successful on some of those plays.”

Key drive
– Holding a 9-3 lead, MSU put the game away when Lee scored on a 22-yard TD run. The drive covered 80 yards in eight plays and took 5:01 off the clock.

Key number
– 38:09 – That’s how long MSU’s offense the ball, compared to 21:51 for Vanderbilt.

Next weekend
– MSU begins a three-game homestand when No. 9 LSU (3-0, 1-0 SEC) visits for an 11:21 a.m. kickoff.

– “They whomped us out there.” – Vandy coach Bobby Johnson, on MSU’s defense.

Bulldog bites
– Dixon passed Michael Davis (1991-94) for third on the school’s career rushing yards list. Dixon now has 2,818 yards, 404 shy of Jerious Norwood’s record. … Linebacker K.J. Wright led MSU with 11 tackles. … State had two sacks and nine tackles-for-loss. … Offensive guard Tobias Smith, who’s been out with an ankle injury, traveled with the Bulldogs but did not play. Also, defensive back Maurice Langston was suspended for the team. He was reinstated to the team earlier in the week after resolving a legal issue.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

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