3 takeaways from Mississippi State's first win without Zach Arnett
Mississippi State had a tough week heading into Saturday’s game against Southern Miss.
The Bulldogs are dealing with a coaching transition as Zach Arnett was fired on Monday following Mississippi State’s 4-6 start to the season and a blowout loss to Texas A&M. It was a weird week for the Bulldogs, and it showed on the field with a less-than-desirable performance against the 3-8 Golden Eagles.
Nonetheless, Mississippi State got its first win without Arnett and now the Bulldogs are an upset away from reaching a bowl game.
Here are some takeaways from the win.
Will Rogers makes return
With all the ups and downs this week, Mississippi State got a feeling of familiarity with Will Rogers making his return.
Rogers has been out since Mississippi State’s Oct. 7 game against Western Michigan as he recovered from a shoulder injury. He’s been a fan-favorite since the 2020 season, and Bulldog fans were likely happy to have him back after a tumultuous week.
It wasn’t Rogers best performance, but that’s to be expected after missing over a month of football. He had 144 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns on the game. Getting Rogers some action before the Egg Bowl could be crucial, so Saturday’s game was a positive for that reason.
Bulldogs contain elite running back
Much like his father, Frank Gore Sr., Frank Gore Jr. has been a presence in the backfield for Southern Miss this season.
Coming into the game, Gore had recorded 970 yards and 9 touchdowns on the year, including a monster 247 yards against App State just a few weeks ago. If Mississippi State wanted to avoid upset, it needed to contain Gore on the ground.
The Bulldogs managed well in slowing him down, holding Gore to just 66 rushing yards and keeping him out of the endzone.
Linebacker duo shines
Nathaniel Watson and Jett Johnson have anchored Mississippi State’s defense this season, and the pair stepped up in a big way on Saturday.
Watson and Johnson combined for 39 tackles. Watson had 21, including a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Johnson had 18 and picked up a sack and 2 tackles for loss.
It was the kind of performance Bulldogs’ fans have come to expect from the duo, and the kind of performance they will need against Ole Miss’ electric offense next week.