No. 23 Mississippi St. takes positives from win
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was in a surprisingly good
mood after his defense gave up 572 total yards against Troy.
It’s a lot easier to be pleasant after a win.
The Bulldogs certainly didn’t have their best performance in a
30-24 road victory over the Trojans on Saturday. But it was good
enough to push Mississippi State (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference)
into The Associated Press college football poll for the first time
”Both our staff and our players are a little disappointed with
our performance,” Mullen said on Sunday. ”But to be disappointed
and still come out with a win is a good thing with our
It’s the first 3-0 start for the Bulldogs since 1999. In his
fourth season at Mississippi State, Mullen has built a consistently
competitive team. The Bulldogs have been ranked for at least part
of the last three seasons.
But the narrow victory over Troy exposed some of the team’s
weaknesses – especially on defense. There will be plenty to fix as
Mississippi State prepares to host FCS-level South Alabama on
Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
Mullen said he was pleased to sense a healthy mix of happiness
and disappointment after Saturday’s gritty effort. He said the next
few days in practice will be important as he gauges the team’s
”I want to see how we come back – how we respond,” Mullen
said. ”I want to look in their faces. I have a good feeling with
our guys. They’re not going to be very pleased with their
performance. There are some coaching things to fix. Some of it is
execution on our guys. We had a bunch of missed tackles.”
But there were also plenty of positives. Tyler Russell continues
his impressive junior season, leading the Bulldogs on a pair of
crucial fourth-quarter drives that put the game away. Russell found
Chad Bumphis for a 25-yard touchdown with seven minutes remaining
that gave the Bulldogs a 30-21 lead.
Russell threw for 244 yards, three touchdowns and no
interceptions. He completed just 11 of 26 passes, but Mullen
counted seven dropped passes by receivers.
Mullen said Russell did a good job keeping his composure, even
when good passes fell incomplete because of bad drops. The
consistent quarterback play is something the Bulldogs haven’t
enjoyed much in recent history.
”He continues to stick with his reads,” Mullen said. ”He
continues to throw the ball where it’s supposed to go.”
Bumphis caught six passes for a career-high 180 yards and three
touchdowns. He could have had an even bigger game if it weren’t for
a few dropped passes.
Mullen said Bumphis – a senior who has had an inconsistent
career – did a good job of shaking off early mistakes and coming
through when the Bulldogs needed him in the fourth quarter.
”The biggest thing you see with him is maturity,” Mullen said.
”… He expects when he’s open to make plays. He expects to play
at a top level.”
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