KEYS FOR VICTORY
1. Slow down Johnny
This is obviously easier written than done. Few teams have been able to slow down Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel since he burst onto the scene last season and no team has been able to stop him.
Last year against Mississippi State, Manziel totaled 440 yards of offense and two touchdowns. He embarrassed several Bulldogs by scrambling 21 times for 129 yards and two scores while completing 30 of 36 passes for 311 yards.
2. Play four quarters
This is an area that has plagued MSU all season. Last week the Bulldogs suffered another disappointing second half. Trailing by a touchdown at halftime, South Carolina outscored State 17-0 in the third quarter and have now been topped 98-54 in the second half this fall.
The Bulldogs held serve with the Aggies in the second half in Starkville last year but trailed 24-0 at halftime.
3. Eliminate turnovers
State had the fewest turnovers in the Southeastern Conference with only six entering last week’s game against the Gamecocks. But five turnovers in their last outing dropped the Bulldogs to fourth in the league and dashed any hopes of pulling a road upset.
Mississippi State cannot afford to give away possessions with a high-scoring Aggie offense across the field this week.
WHAT TO WATCH
When MSU has the ball
Look for Tyler Russell to get more of the reps at quarterback this week.
Dak Prescott missed most of the week of practice following the death of his mother. Russell has played only one series the past two games due to a sprained ankle but says he is 100 percent healthy.
Russell has missed over half the season with injuries. It will be interesting to see if the senior can return to form for the final four games and will the Bulldogs back into a bowl game.
When A&M has the ball
Slowing down the Aggies’ offense this season was Ole Miss holding them to 41 points. The Aggies still won that game and had 587 yards.
The Aggies lead the league in most offensive categories averaging 582.6 yards and 49 points per game. Manziel alone is racking up 381.2 yards of offense while go-to receiver Mike Evans is averaging 127.4 yards per game. Evans leads the SEC with 52 catches for 1,147 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Texas A&M WR Mike Evans vs. MSU’s secondary
Evans caught nine passes for 97 yards last year against MSU’s heralded secondary that featured two NFL second round draft picks.
It will take a group effort by the Bulldogs young and injury-riddled secondary to try and slow down the 6-foot-5, 225-pound sophomore.
Twice this season Evans has had over 275 yards in a game. State has not had an interception since Oct. 5 against LSU.