Mississippi State reaction: Tommy Stevens makes Joe Moorhead's offense effective as Bulldogs down Louisiana
Mississippi State started the 2019 season with some big questions to be answered. How would Tommy Stevens look in a Bulldog uniform? Would the Bulldogs finally start to show a better grasp of Joe Moorhead’s offense? How would Bob Shoop replace three first-round picks on defense?
Well, the biggest question surrounding his team was answered right out of the gate, as Stevens delivered a perfect touch pass for six on Mississipi State’s first possession of the game and later added another two touchdowns in team’s 38-28 season-opening win over Louisiana.
Stevens finished the game completing 20 of his 30 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with another rushing score in the game. Stevens connected with nine different Mississippi State receivers in the game.
The Penn State graduate transfer showed great touch on the first touchdown pass of his MSU career, which can be viewed below, courtesy of the SEC Network:
Tommy Stevens with the deep ball…
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 31, 2019
Here is Stevens’ final touchdown of the day, where he again showed some nice touch on this pass to receiver Austin Williams:
— #FlashSZN (@ftbeard_17) August 31, 2019
As for Shoop’s defense, outside of one long scoring drive by Louisiana, the Bulldogs dominated the first half of the game, but miscues kept Mississippi State from pulling away in the first half. Moorhead’s offense racked up 301 yards of total offense in the first half but a sloppy half of football from both teams, they combined for five turnovers by halftime, kept this game close as MSU went into the break up only 21-14.
The second half was a different story, as Louisiana had great success against Shoop’s defense, including a 14-play, 99-yard drive that cut Mississippi State’s lead down to seven late in the game. The defense’s second-half effort has to be a concern for Bulldog fans but there’s plenty of time for Shoop and his defensive coaches to adjust before SEC play begins.
Louisiana finished with 431 yards of total offense, 267 passing and 164 rushing.
One of the goals of Moorhead’s offense heading into the season was to be as close as possible to 50-50 in terms of rushing and passing and that goal was accomplished in the opener. Mississippi State finished the game with 236 passing yards and 261 rushing yards in the opener.
Kylin Hill had himself a day, rushing for 197 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries while Nick Gibson had arguably the most impressive run of the day with his diving touchdown run in the second quarter. Gibson finished the game with 27 yards on only two carries. Tommy Stevens also showed his wheels, adding another 37 rushing yards in this game.
With the win, Mississippi State opens the season at 1-0 with a home showdown against Southern Miss looming next week in Starkville.