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MSU sees positive points despite loss

September 11, 2011

MSU receivers Brandon Heavens (3) and Ricco Sanders (11) celebrate a first-quarter touchdown on Saturday. (Photo by Dave Martin, AP)

The No. 16 Mississippi State Bulldogs dropped their Southeastern Conference opener 41-34 to Auburn, but they were still able to take positives back to Starkville with them.
By scoring 34 points, the Bulldogs have now scored at least 30 points in their last five games, which is a school record. Another record set on Saturday is a combination record as over their first two games, they had 1,176 total offensive yards.
Quarterback Chris Relf didn't set a record but did complete at least one pass to 10 different receivers in Saturday's loss. A feat that hasn't happened since October 25, 2008 win over Middle Tennessee State.
"I thought (Relf) played well with a lot of confidence," MSU coach Dan Mullen said about his senior signal caller. "I liked the confidence in Chris."

Good, bad defense

The Bulldogs stopped Auburn 11 of 20 times on third down which is 55 percent. That 55 percent combined with the 33.3 percent from week one's win over Memphis, the Bulldogs have an average of .353 on third down conversions on the year.
A problem that arose in Saturday's loss, was the defense being able to stop the run. In week one, Auburn ran for only 78 yards against Utah State, but were able to put up 235 against the Bulldogs.
"A lot of (the yards given up) were on missed tackles," Mullen said. "We have to make sure that we have guys in the right position to make plays on the field."

Two 100-yard rusher

Since 1996, MSU has only had one other time where two players rushed for over 100 yards, but on Saturday, Vick Ballard and Relf made it the second time.
Having a player with 100 yards rushing is something the Bulldogs have become accustomed to since Mullen's arrival.
After Saturday, there is still only one game in Mullen's 27 at MSU where a player didn't rush for 100 yards.

Defensive numbers

Johnthan Banks and Cameron Lawrence were high points in the Bulldog defense as Banks returned an interception 27 yards and Lawrence had 14 tackles which is a career high.

Other Dog bits

Kicker Derek DePasquale moved up to a tie for ninth place in the school's record books for field goals made, and is sixth in extra points made. ... Brandon Heavens' touchdown catch from 15 yards out was his first since MSU's opener against Memphis in 2010. ... The Bulldogs out-gained the Tigers 531-381 in total offense and had 10 more first downs. Penalties was also won by the Bulldogs has they were penalized 10 times, but for 75 yards compared to Auburn's 85 yards on seven penalties.

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