Tigers shut down Dogs
MSU wide receiver Chris Smith (80) falls to the ground after a tackle by the LSU defense Thursday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
By LEE ADAMS
LSU's defense was too much for Mississippi State Thursday night.
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The only points the 25th-ranked Bulldogs could generate came on two Derek DePasquale field goals in a 19-6 loss to the third-ranked Tigers.
Mississippi State didn't look like they had the No. 1 rushing offense in the Southeastern Conference on Thursday night as they were held to only 52 rushing yards on 34 attempts. The Bulldogs were averaging 321 yards pre game on the ground, but that was stopped by the No. 1 SEC rush defense.Â
Vick Ballard was the Bulldogs leading rusher with 38 yards, and Chris Relf ran for only 10 yards on 16 carries.
MSU's offense was held to only 193 yards of total offense while the Tigers had 361. Despite the difference in yardage, the Bulldogs were in the game until midway through the fourth quarter but third year head coach Dan Mullen thinks they were out-played.
"We got our butt's kicked out there tonight," said Mullen. "Offensive line didn't do a very good job blocking them at all, receivers didn't get off and make plays. Their guys made plays and our guys didn't and really that was the bottom line of the football game."
The offense did struggle the entire night and Mullen feels it was a lack of rhythm and the lack of offensive yardage could be largely in part to the injury plagued offensive line.
"We never got into a rhythm," said Mullen. "We're playing a lot of young offensive linemen with all the injuries we've been having and we got behind and had to play to their strengths."
In the loss, where DePasquale scored all six of MSU's points, Mullen wasn't disappointed by his team's effort.
"I thought our guys played tough, physical and we were right there," said Mullen. "We had the opportunities, but our playmakers have got to step up and make plays. I'm not upset with any of our guys performance but we have to get a little bit better."
To try to shake things up in the fourth quarter, Mullen put Tyler Russell in at quarterback.
"We brought Tyler in to change it up," said Mullen. "We wanted to give hime a chance to try and give our offense a spark."
Russell wasn't able to deliver that spark as he was 4-of-8 for 45 yards and threw one interception. Relf didn't have much better of a night through the air as he was 11-of-17 for 96 yards and threw one interception.Â
The Bulldog defense did keep them in the game almost the entire time by holding them to only 19 points.
"Our job was to out play their defense and we didn't do that," said MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. "Give LSU credit, they have a really good football team."
LSU head coach Les Miles felt the game was going to be a defensive battle all along.
"I told the team the defense needed to come in and play the way they did to have the success," said Miles. "I felt like the intensity of the defense was strong and that really ended up being the tale of the day."
Charles Mitchell and Johnthan Banks were the highlight of the Bulldog defense as Mitchell recorded 16 tackles and Banks had six tackles and one interception. One thing the defense couldn't seem to get over was LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee.
"He played good tonight," said MSU defensive lineman Fletcher Cox. "He got the ball out quick and did a great job of making the plays when it mattered."
Lee finished the night 21-of-27 for 213 yards and one touchdown. Other Tigers the Bulldogs struggled to contain were running back Spencer Ware and wide receiver Rueben Randle. Ware carried the ball 22 times for 109 yards and Randle had six receptions of 98 yards including the Tigers only touchdown catch.
MSU held the Tigers to two field goals in the first half and the Bulldogs trailed 6-3 at halftime.
After one of DePasquale's two field goals, State tied the game at six, but that would be all the Bulldogs could score. LSU scored 13 unanswered points in the final quarter and a half to pick up their first SEC win of the season.
The Bulldogs are in familiar territory as they started last season 1-2 but Mullen feels they will be all right.
"Our guys always bounce back and we were right here last year," said Mullen. "We have to keep grinding away as we try to build a championship program," said Mullen. "We played the defending national champions and just played the best team in the nation. Those are big humps to get over, so that's something we're going to continue to grind to do until we can get to that next level."