After Mississippi State knocked off Troy 45-17 on Saturday, head coach Dan Mullen and his coaches had the opportunity to reflect on the game and what is on the way for the rest of the season.
The Bulldogs had a Jekylll-and-Hyde effect from the first to the second half on Saturday. MSU's defense and offense ran into a wall after a dominating first half that produced a 38-0 lead. MSU was held to less than 100 yards offensively in the second half and surrendered over 100 yards rushing to the Trojans.
On Monday, Mullen addressed some of those issues and commented on cleaning things up for this weekend's game against Louisiana Tech for homecoming.
"I thought we played really well in the first half. That's the type of team we've gotten used to seeing here at Mississippi State," Mullen said."Defensively, we played with a little chip on our shoulder and were flying to the ball. We made a lot of plays. They gave us some one-on-one opportunities and we made some big plays down the field. I thought we really played well in the first half, and to be honest with you, we came out solid for the third quarter, but I think some of the guys hit cruise control. For us as coaches, we can't let that happen. We have to play four quarters."
MSU held Troy to negative rushing yards through the first two quarters and finished with an eye-popping 15 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Senior defensive end Ryan Brown, who finished with seven tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and a sack, was named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week on Monday.
Mullen was happy for his fourth-year defender but mentioned that plays were being made across the board for the unit.
"He's the leader of the defensive line for us right now," Mullen said. "When you turn on the film and see how our defensive line played as a whole, they played the best game they have played this season. I think Ryan was the beneficiary of that. It wasn't just Ryan putting on a show on the field, it was our entire defensive line playing at another level."
The defensive line is in for a tough battle this week against an opponent who will likely compete for a championship in Conference USA. The Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech have to give current MSU defensive coordinator Manny Diaz some credit for their success and the two parties will be very familiar with each other this weekend.
Diaz served as the defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech last season.
Mullen thinks the addition of Diaz on his staff should help MSU against a tough offense consisting of former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel and the nation's active career leader in rushing, Kenneth Dixon.
"It helps with familiarity. If there is something out of the norm, it's not bad to know why they are doing it or what they are trying to accomplish in that," Mullen said. "That's why we study the film. Hopefully by the time the game hits there are no secrets out there."
As for MSU's offense and where it is at the moment, those questions are still left unanswered. The Bulldogs haven't had much of a rushing attack with just 150 yards per contest this year. Though freshmen Aeris Williams and Dontavian Lee are showing the most flashes, Mullen believes they still are in a learning stage.
"Both (Lee) and Aeris (Williams) are still developing," Mullen said. "I can't have a running back in there when Dak is going back to throw the ball, and he has no idea what he is doing, and now we lost our quarterback. It's the play without the ball with young players as to how fast they develop that way."
Mullen said no new injuries are to be reported and hopes to have tight end Gus Walley (hand) back this week after missing two games. Wide receivers Joe Morrow (wrist) and Gabe Myles (ankle) won't practice this week and are questionable.