Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has talked for weeks about how MSU's yardage hasn't translated into points. Photo by: Associated Press file photo
November 4, 2013 8:41:17 AM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen knew the continued tendency of big yards resulting in no points against inferior competition wouldn't work.
"We had a lot better pass completion, more yards, and more plays," Mullen said Saturday after the 34-16 loss at South Carolina. "We did a great job on third down against one of the best defenses in the league. We did a lot of things to win, but give South Carolina credit. They didn't make mistakes, and they made the plays."
Going into Saturday's game, MSU (4-4, 1-3 in Southeastern Conference) had 11 drives accumulate at least 47 yards of production but not produce any points. For a drive starting at the 25-yard-line after a touchback, 47 yards of offense would get to the opponent's 28-yard-line and signify at least the possibility of a 45-yard field goal attempt.
Here's a statistical breakdown of MSU's drives this season:
Earned more than 47 yards and scored a TD: 25
Earned less than 47 yards but scored a TD: 5
Earned more than 47 yards and scored a FG: 5
Earned less than 47 yards and resulted in punt or loss of downs: 26
Earned more than 47 yards and resulted in turnover: 2
Earned more than 47 yards and didn't score points: 12
I'll have a feature of this statistical anomaly in Monday's edition of The Dispatch print edition.
Mullen pointed out this statistical anomaly in each of the last two nail-biting victories over Bowling Green and Kentucky and hoped that a return to high competition would increase the desperate focus for consistent points.
"I thought we had a great week of practice and had great preparation," Mullen said. "It's an early kick-off, and sometimes you're worried as a coach if you're going to have get your team up and going. We had a 7 a.m. wake-up time, but our guys were ready to go. You look at the game, and we did some really good things."
MSU had three plays of 10 yards or more in the first drive of the game that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs only lead of the afternoon. The Bulldogs had 14 more plays over 10 yards the rest of the game but had half of them occur with MSU losing by three scores and South Carolina playing a very soft defense.
"We went down there and scored and that's how the game should have went the whole game. We didn't execute. The first drive should have been like the rest of the game."
This week MSU faces the SEC's most potent offense in terms of scoring, total yardage, passing yardage and plays over 10, 20 and 30 yards this season. If MSU needs to win a shootout, Mullen knows these chronic problems of having long drives but void of points has to turn around immediately.
"Our five second-half possessions included three turnovers and one with a stupid coaching penalty that caused us to move backwards," Mullen said. "Those types of things tend to nip you in different ways every week when things aren't going well."
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.