Mississippi State football: Stock report after Week 2
It wasn’t pretty in Week 2 for Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs hung on for the 31-24 overtime victory against Arizona on Saturday night.
Mississippi State got off to a fast start, taking a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. However, the offense struggled after that and couldn’t pull away from Arizona.
Arizona hit a field goal with 5 seconds in regulation to send it to overtime. After a 29-yard touchdown catch by Jeffrey Pittman from Will Rogers in overtime, the defense got a stop to secure the victory to help move the Bulldogs to 2-0.
Player of the Week: RB Jo’Quavious Marks
The senior running back had a fantastic game for the Bulldogs, rushing the ball 24 times for 123 yards and 1 touchdown.
Marks was very solid in the passing game as well, finishing with 4 catches for 32 yards. With Will Rogers at the quarterback position, the Bulldogs will be able to move the ball through the air.
Marks had never had a 100-yard rushing game before this season, but has two now as he rushed for 127 yards in the opener.
Freshman of the Week: DL Trevion Williams
Williams didn’t have the biggest game when it comes to the box score, but the freshman showed the potential he has.
He had two tackles in the game, with both of them being in the backfield for a TFL.
At 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, Williams is a very good athlete for his size who could become a very good player for the Bulldogs.
Biggest surprise: Defense shows playmaking ability this year with 4 interceptions
The Bulldogs defense was the difference in the game against Arizona, as they had 4 interceptions in the game. Jett Johnson had 2 in the game, while Nathaniel Watson and Shawn Preston Jr. each had 1 as well.
The team had only 14 interceptions last year, and 6 of those were by Emmanuel Forbes.
Forbes went 16th in the 2023 NFL draft to the Commanders, and without him there were questions if the defense could create turnovers in the back-end.
They created only one turnover in the win against SE Louisiana, but did force four fumbles. With this performance against Arizona, the defense showed it can create some havoc.
Biggest concern: The Bulldogs couldn’t put Arizona away for good until late
When your defense forces 5 turnovers, your running back rushes for 123 yards and your quarterback throws 3 touchdowns, you would not expect the other team to take the game to overtime.
The offense was solid not turning the ball over, but at times it was too conservative. The Bulldogs couldn’t stay on the field, as they were only 3-of-11 on 3rd down conversions.
The defense made plays, but asking the defense to continue to do its job while making them go back on the field repeatedly is a recipe for disaster.
Mississippi State had an opportunity to slam the door shut on this game early, but they let Arizona hang in and literally be within inches on a long 4th down play of potentially tying this game.
Developing trend: Way too many penalties
In the season opener, the Bulldogs did a great job of playing disciplined, committing only 1 penalty. However, that was not the case on Saturday, as Mississippi State had 9 penalties for 90 yards.
There were all kinds of penalties on both sides of the ball, including pass interferences, illegal substitutions and false starts.
Those mistakes may seem minor, but they were a huge reason why this game went to overtime. Arizona is nowhere near the best team the Bulldogs will play this year, and if they continue this trend of committing penalties, it will be a long year in SEC play.
Key Stat: 15 carries for 22 yards
Marks had a very good game for the Bulldogs, but for the rest of the team, they weren’t able to get anything going on the ground. If you take out the 24 carries for 123 yards by Marks, the rest of the team had 15 carries for 22 yards.
As a whole, Mississippi State rushed the ball 39 carries for only 145 yards, which is a 3.7 yard per carry average.
That will not work next week, when a little more formidable opponent comes to Starkville.
First impression about Week 3
If Mississippi State plays like it did on Saturday night next week, this will not be an article about a win. The Bulldogs will be hosting LSU next Saturday, and the Tigers appeared to right the ship against Grambling.
LSU has a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and will be much better at the quarterback position. Jayden Daniels was 18-of-24 for 269 yards and 5 touchdowns. Daniels and this offense is a much more vaunted passing attack, and it is highly unlikely that the defense will force 5 turnovers next week.
Mississippi State has done what it needs to do to be 2-0, but next Saturday will be a true test to see where the Bulldogs are as a team.