– Thumbs up: MSU’s offense started the season with a bang, piling up 569 total yards, the most since 554 against Tulane in 1994. Quarterbacks Chris Relf and Tyler Russell passed for a combined 372 yards and five touchdowns. Running backs Vick Ballard, LaDarius Perkins and Robert Elliott led a balanced rushing attack.
State had six plays of 20 yards or more, and three of those were 50-plus yards.
– Thumbs down: Sean Brauchle missed a 38-yard field goal, and the kickoff unit didn’t pin Memphis deep very often. Derek DePasquale, who split duties with Brauchle last season, saw most of the action.
Coach Dan Mullen thought the first half was a little “sloppy” at times, but the Bulldogs still held a 21-0 halftime lead.
Keys to victory in review
– Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay edition:
1. Stay focused: Relf was picked off on his first pass of the game, but he recovered nicely with a long TD pass on the next possession. If anyone had trouble focusing in front of the cowbell-jingling sellout crowd, it was Memphis, which never looked comfortable on offense and had multiple breakdowns defensively.
The trick now is turning the focus quickly to Thursday’s game against Auburn.
2. Find offensive rhythm: The Bulldogs whirred along smoothly with both quarterbacks. Russell directed scoring drives of 91 and 75 yards in the first half, and then the offense really took off in a 21-point third quarter.
3. Attack, attack, attack: MSU had only one sack – by lineman Devin Jones – but the Memphis QBs were under pressure all night and took some licks. MSU had 6.0 tackles-for-loss, and the Tigers managed only 237 total yards.
– QB Tyler Russell: Although he didn’t start, the redshirt freshman completed 13 of 16 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns.
– The opener could not have gone better. Besides imposing its will on both sides of the ball, State got several players into the game. In all, 12 Bulldogs got their hands on the ball on offense.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal