September 7, 2013 8:54:44 PM
STARKVILLE - What did we learn?
After hearing all the talk about the offense being less than spectacular last week in a 21-3 loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State, Mississippi State decided to make a statement early and often against a overmatched Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
In a game where MSU (1-1) sat seven starters for either injury issues or undisclosed disciplinary reasons, the Bulldogs racked up 308 yards in the first 30 minutes that saw them take a 37-0 halftime lead into the locker room.
The 37 first-half points marked the most in the first 30 minutes for Mississippi State since they scored 38 vs. Northeast Louisiana University in a 59-0 victory on Nov. 2, 1996.
- In his five games at MSU against Football Championship Subdivision opponents, MSU coach Dan Mullen has outscored the competition by an average of 40 points.
Dak Prescott's first career start at quarterback went about as well as it could've done as the sophomore showcased his athletic ability on designed rollouts and scrambling throughout the first half, finished 12 for 19 for 174 yards and three total touchdowns. With starter Tyler Russell on the sidelines wearing a headset and in gym shorts, his sophomore backup showed proficiency against the FCS defense in making specific throws necessary in Mullen's spread-option offense. In the first half, Prescott spread the ball around to seven different receivers and both of his two touchdown strikes were thrown only where MSU receivers could possibly make the catch.
- Even without the services of star tailback LaDarius Perkins, who was being held out for precautionary reasons with a left ankle, MSU ran for five touchdowns as the 55,085 in attendance saw the college debut of Tupelo native Ashton Shumpert. The highly regarded four-star freshman scored two one-yard touchdown runs and added 98 yards on the ground as he simply ran over Alcorn State defenders in between the tackles. Shumpert became the first true freshman running back to rush for two touchdowns in a game since 1991 when Michael Davis accomplished the feat. The 210-pound tailback was the first MSU players to score two touchdowns in his first college game since Chad Bumphis in Dan Mullen's head coaching debut in 2009.
"He just plain ran the ball hard," Mullen said. "We called his number a lot today and was physical so I was proud of him for that effort."
- After gaining 21 yards on their first drive, Alcorn State (1-1) earned a total of 142 yards the rest of the contest that consisted of 10 consecutive three and out drives. MSU, who held No. 13 Oklahoma State University to 21 points last week, held to its aggressive nature and brought constant pressure to Braves starting quarterback John Gibbs Jr. The Bulldogs even recorded its first sack of the season as junior defensive tackle Curtis Virges got into the backfield for his first sack since the 2011 Music City Bowl against Wake Forest University in Nashville.
MSU showed more of a effort on getting their speed athletes the football by giving carries to wide receivers Jameon Lewis and Brandon Holloway. Eight different MSU players received carries in the blowout win as MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning wanted to emphasize sweeps and draws around the tackle box for a total of 277 rushing yards.
MSU (1-1) crossed off numerous amounts of firsts in the opening minutes as Deontae Skinner's interception on the opening possession represented the first turnover and quickly turned into the first touchdown. Prescott, who was getting his first collegiate start at quarterback due to the concussion of starter suffered by Tyler Russell last week, rumbled in on a designed quarterback draw from 10 yards out to start a incredibly one-sided first half.
- MSU sophomore right guard Justin Malone will miss the remainder of the 2013 season after suffering a broken left foot in the season-opening loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State University. The injury, which is referred to as a Lisfranc injury, is when the middle bones of the foot are severely displaced.
Malone, who was expected to slide into the the permanent starting position inside the MSU offensive line beside All-SEC selection Gabe Jackson and junior Dillon Day at center, suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the 21-3 loss in Houston.
Former walk-on Ben Beckwith drew his first career start in place of Malone and junior lineman Damien Robinson was listed as Beckwith's backup along with being the backup at left tackle.
- MSU had seven new starters in Saturday's 51-7 victory over Alcorn State. Three changes to the starting lineup were predetermined this week due to announced injuries. Senior quarterback Tyler Russell was not active after suffering a concussion in the loss to Oklahoma State. Dak Prescott received his first career start behind center since arriving at MSU three years ago.
Senior tailback LaDarius Perkins was not on the active roster Saturday and was replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Josh Robinson. Perkins had a protective boot on his left foot throughout the entire week of practice despite not being mentioned Monday on Mullen's injury report to the media.
Highly touted five-star freshman Chris Jones received his first career start at defensive tackle in his second career collegiate game in place of P.J. Jones. Jones was out of the lineup for a undisclosed team matter after having three career starts to his career.
Jay Hughes is out for the season and was replaced by sophomore Kendrick Market at strong safety. Justin Malone was not in the active roster due to a injury to his his left foot injury sustained in the 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State in Houston. He was replaced by junior Ben Beckwith at right guard. Junior offensive lineman Damien Robinson was named the backup at both right guard and left tackle Saturday.
MSU senior free safety Nickoe Whitley had his streak of 31 straight games in the starting lineup broken as he was sat Saturday for a undisclosed reason that wasn't related to a injury. Sophomore Dee Arrington got his first career start in place of Whitley.
What we heard?
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen:
"That was a great win for us. Wins are obviously hard to come by in any level of football. I thought our guys came out and played hard today, right from the opening whistle all the way until the end. We talked about needing more effort in the game today and I thought we got that for four quarters. Our crowd was great early on. We had great support from them all day. I'm proud we got to play a lot of players today. I think 25 freshmen played for us today, so a lot of young guys got reps and the opportunity to be out on the field."
On Dak Prescott's play
"I thought Dak came out played well and did a good job in the first half. He made some good reads, managed the offense well, made plays when we needed him to make them and I'm proud of that."
On Brandon Holloway
"He has a lot of speed and he is an electric player in the open field. We want to make sure we get him in the open field and we were able to do that today. We've seen that in practice from him, so we know he can make big plays. As a freshman getting his real first opportunity to play in this stadium he came out and did a good job with some runs, catches and the long kick return."
Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson:
"The good thing was that in the first half we did nothing, but the second half our guys battled. It was a 14-7 game in the second half so that's something to take out of it as a positive. We kind of did the same thing last year with our nonconference games.
"We made some mistakes early. We turned the ball over on offense. We have got to start protecting the football on offense. We can't give them anything cheap. I thought on defense we had some execution problems in the first half but I thought we had four or five stops. I thought the execution on offense is something we have to continue to do better. Special teams was a deal where we gave up a big kickoff return.
"There are a few things we need to clean up but I thought our kids fought. They played hard but there's a lot to learn from this game. I'm proud of the effort in the second half. We played hard."
They came out and they played hard in the second half. We played a better half in the second half but we just let it get away early.
"Playing a team of Mississippi State's caliber, you can't do that. We had the early fourth down but they did a good job of converting on the wheel route for the touchdown. We had the big turnover and then it went 14 to nothing. That's something I talked to the staff about before the game is we can't let it get out of control against an SEC football team or it will get out of control. I think if we could have just prolonged the game a little bit better we could have maybe giving ourselves a better chance to hang in there for awhile. Give Mississippi State all the credit there. They are an excellent football program and they deserve all the credit in the world. Coach Mullen has done a great job."
Mississippi State junior WR Jameon Lewis
On how Dak Prescott played:
"He played really well. I knew he was going to play well because that's just Dak. He came out and did what he was supposed to do."
On stretching the Alcorn State defense:
"I think in our offense, we have a lot of skill. We have good players. Getting the ball in our hands in the open field out there and being able to do something with it [is important]."
On gaining confidence on offense ...
"Just practice. If we have a good week of practice then come out and perform [it's good]. But it starts at practice."
Auburn University (2-0)
After a 3 hour football game that essentially wasn't in any doubt after the first few minutes of play, nothing logically is settled against quality competition. Those questions will be answered next week as the Bulldogs begin Southeastern Conference play. However, a week before MSU heads to Auburn University (2-0) for its first true road trip of the season, the fans got a reprieve from worry and angst over a offensive blackout in the season opener.
"I know everybody looks at it differently than I do but when you lose it's not as bad as it would appear but when you win, like today, it's never really as good as it appears either," Mullen said.
Auburn is coming off home victories to Washington State and Arkansas State and Tigers new coach Gus Malzahn is looking for that signature win in his first season in the SEC.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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