Mississippi State

Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen talks up La. Tech, Leo Lewis’ character

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen talks to a staff member during Saturday’s game Charleston Southern in Starkville. The Bulldogs visit Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen talks to a staff member during Saturday’s game Charleston Southern in Starkville. The Bulldogs visit Louisiana Tech on Saturday. AP

There wasn’t a whole lot to be upset about for Dan Mullen and his team this week after their 49-0 thrashing of FCS program Charleston Southern.

Among impressive stats from that beatdown was Todd Grantham’s defense allowing just 33 total yards and two first downs. The Buccaneers also failed to cross midfield in the game as MSU destroyed their option from start to finish.

This week, things are a big different for the Bulldogs.

They travel to Ruston, La., to battle another bunch of Bulldogs with a different bark than their first opponent. La Tech renews the series between the two teams that has been rather frequent over the last 10 years. Mullen expects a battle from the home team.

“You’re talking about opposite ends of the spectrum from going from a team that’s kind of a wishbone team in week one to a one of the teams that leads the nation in passing in week two,” Mullen said. “We didn’t spend a lot of time reviewing the game film with the players on the last game because there’s not a lot of carry over from the scheme we’re going to see.”

La Tech won its opener 52-24 over Northwestern State last week led by former Meridian quarterback J’Mar Smith who had 276 passing yards and 72 rushing on the night. State didn’t see much of the dual-threat ability out of their last opponent with only eight pass attempts.

The defense didn’t have any hiccups in game one of the offense sputtered at times. While MSU still poured on 555 yards of total offense and had a balanced attack, the offensive line was still rusty.

Elgton Jenkins worked his first game at center and often had low snaps to quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Additionally, sophomore Darryl Williams made his first start of his career working at guard and right tackle Stewart Reese was playing his first college game as a redshirt freshman right tackle.

“There were a lot of good things to teach off of. There was a little bit of inconsistencies at times which happens with guys sometimes. We got to play a bunch of guys which was fantastic so the teaching goes beyond the 1’s. They got to see themselves in a live situation and see where they need to improve.”

Mullen Comments on Leo Lewis

For three years, Leo Lewis has been at the center of the Egg Bowl rivalry.

The sophomore linebacker had a memorable recruiting experience committing to the Ole Miss Rebels during the season and then decommitted from them several days before ultimately signing with the Bulldogs on National Signing Day 2015.

Since that time, his legend has grown in the state. Lewis has long been outed at “Student Athlete 39” in the NCAA’s investigation against Ole Miss as the athlete from another SEC school who was offered and accepted benefits from Ole Miss during his recruitment.

Lewis has seen plenty of backlash from opposing fans. Mullen said on Tuesday that a lot of that is nonsense.

“I don’t really pay attention to it; I worry about him,” Mullen said. “Leo is a kid to me that works his tail off. Every day I’ve met him since recruiting, he’s always been brutally honest with me. He and I have a really good relationship.

“He’s a guy that comes from a tough background and has really worked hard in his personal life and on the football field to become a better player. He physically changed his body and had a real grind in his work ethic to become the best he can be. That’s the type of young man he is. However people want to portray him, they can portray him that way. That’s not the Leo Lewis I know. The Leo Lewis I know is the guy I deal with on a daily basis.”

Lewis started in the first game of the season against Charleston Southern and recorded a tackle as the “Money” inside linebacker of Grantham’s defense.

Game plan

What: Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: CBS Sports