Offense: MSU silences LSU with run, pass

MSU running back Aeris Williams
Staff Writer

LSU players and coaches stood in a stoned silence on the visiting sidelines in the midst of well over 50,000 clanging fans.

Every facet of the game in front of the Tigers had been completely one-sided. It was a stark contrast from a year ago in Tiger Stadium when Nick Fitzgerald and the rest of the Mississippi State offensive managed just 56 yards on the ground.

When the train got on the tracks on Saturday in Davis Wade Stadium, it was game over for LSU.

Fitzgerald was the conductor for the Bulldogs and Aeris Williams carried the cargo for 285 yards rushing and a historic victory over the Tigers.

“We had a really good game plan coming in," Fitzgerald said. "We knew where to attack them and where they were weak. It was 11 guys out there playing for each other and doing their job.”

When MSU scored its first touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter, it was eight possessions later when the Tigers finally get another stop. The Bulldogs did it on the ground and by air as Fitzgerald went 15-of-23 for 180 yards and two scores passing and 14 carries for 88 yards and two more touchdowns.

While it certainly wasn’t his best numbers in his career, it might have been his most impressive night as a Bulldog as State beat the Tigers for the first time in Starkville since 1999.

“We were balanced so that’s what helped everyone out,” Williams said. “The offensive line, the wide receivers and Nick were all just balanced and LSU couldn’t stop it.”

The combo of Fitzgerald and Williams are becoming too much to handle for opposing teams as Williams added 23 carries for 146 yards for the night. He gave the credit to the offensive line which the players and coaches said have gotten better each game.

“I just think my offensive line has been handling their business out there," Williams said. "That’s the only reason I got the yards that I got. They were great (Saturday night). We’ve started believing in ourselves and what we can do.”

Mullen agrees with that assessment of the line.

The unit is playing with two first-time starters in sophomore left guard Darryl Williams and redshirt freshman right tackle Stewart Reese. They also have junior lineman Elgton Jenkins at center for the first time in his career.

“I was really pleased with Stewart as a redshirt freshman having to go against Arden Key who is one of the most dominating defensive players in the country,” Mullen said. “I thought he did a great job of going out there, taking on that challenge and performance.”

As pleased as Mullen was with the blowout win, he doesn’t believe the Bulldogs are close to playing their best football. The coach was happy with the historic victory but will flush the celebration quickly and turn focus to a big road game at Georgia next week.

“We’ve got to get a lot better,” Mullen said. “We’ve got to continue to improve. We have a young football team. We’ve got to continue to build the depth and continue to take steps forward.”