A much-needed home stand began with positive results for Mississippi State as they used two touchdowns in the first two minutes of the game to roll past Troy on Saturday, 45-17.
What we learned
MSU's defense has gotten better nearly every week. The Bulldogs had a dominating first half against an outmatched Trojan offense. When MSU's starting defensive line was in the ball game, the Bulldogs had nine tackles for loss and three sacks.
The Bulldogs emphasized getting pressure and creating turnovers in practice this week and that paid off big time. State had a sack from freshman Brandon Bryant on the opening possession that turned into a fumble and a recovery in the end zone by Nelson Adams for a touchdown. Linebacker Beniquez Brown had an interception on the first possession of the second half as MSU won the turnover battle.
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After holding the Trojans to negative-20 yards rushing in the first two quarters, MSU's backups surrendered 112 yards for the game. MSU allowed just 2.4 yards per rush on the game.
We also learned that the Bulldogs' best chance of picking up positive rushing yards came from two redshirt freshmen running backs and quarterbacks. MSU constantly found itself hit at the line of scrimmage or stuffed in the backfield until its freshmen got a chance.
Reserve quarterback Nick Fitzgerald drew most of the reps in the game and was effective rushing the ball, rushing eight times for 29 yards and a touchdown, his third of the season. Dontavian Lee had five carries for a team-high 44 yards.
Moving forward, MSU needs to find its running game and it's going to have to incorporate the freshmen more.
The Bulldogs are back home this week with a tough non-conference challenge in the form of Louisiana Tech (4-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday.