Barry Brunetti played with effort and was effective moving the team in stretches, though the Rebels were unable to mount much in the way of sustained drives against LSU, ranked No. 2 in the nation in total defense.
Zack Stoudt had three days to prepare to star at quarterback, but did not look ready, missing badly on his first pass, then lofting the ball over the head of Brandon Bolden for the interception returned for a touchdown by LSU's Rod Brooks. LSU's superior speed kept the Rebels from turning the corner with freshman wide receivers Nick Brassell and Donte Moncrief.
The Rebels were unable to get off blocks and get in position to make tackles, as LSU used nine different ball-carriers to rush for 353 yards.
Keys to victory
Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday's GameDay section:
1. Block somebody. The offensive line was better, reducing the tackles for loss from 12 against La. Tech to eight. Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis were able to crank our 3- and 4-yard gains but couldn't break free into the second level of the LSU defense.
Barry Brunetti was successful by hitting the line quickly and showing the defense some looks it hasn't seen.
Overall, the run game was more effective than it was against La. Tech.
2. Protect the football. The Rebels fumbled twice, lost them both, and Stoudt's interception set the tone for the game.
3. Care. Mixed results here. Stoudt looked distracted, but Brunetti seemed to have some "want to" in the tank. The offensive and defensive lines have struggled this season, so there was no noticeable difference there.
Barry Brunetti. Pressed into a far larger role than he anticipated, Brunetti was strong in the run game, totaling 97 yards before the minus yardage was tallied to drop him to 74.
Brunetti was average in the passing game, and you can't be successful as a one-dimensional player. Now that he's got some plays on video, Mississippi State will be better prepared to defend him.
Offensive coordinator David Lee will have to help Brunetti get the receivers involved if the Rebels are to avoid another blowout loss in their final game under Houston Nutt.