MSU football: Week 1 win was incredible, but Week 2 win showed how Bulldogs, Rogers are figuring it out
After the biggest comeback in program history in Week 1, Mississippi State found itself in a prime spot to be beaten at home by a tough and experienced NC State team.
Emotional hangovers happen. We saw emotional hangovers all over college football in Week 2, notably by Notre Dame and Florida State.
Those schools played each other in an intense overtime game in Week 1. Then, they each laid an egg. Notre Dame escaped Toledo despite being outplayed while FSU lost on the final play to Jacksonville State.
Had the Bulldogs come out emotionally hungover, or lacking focus the way they did against La. Tech, the Wolfpack probably would have won.
But that didn’t happen. The Bulldogs showed patience on offense and discipline on defense, both of which were lacking in Week 1.
That’s a very encouraging sign.
One of the oldest cliches in football is that the most improvement comes between Week 1 and Week 2. For MSU, that appears to be true. Now, the important question will be what big improvements are left.
Leach noted that there were missed opportunities. It’s obviously better to have those during a win, but when the SEC schedule starts, those missed chances are all anyone can talk about should a team lose a close game.
Now, MSU heads to Memphis, which also is 2-0 following victories against Nicholls State and Arkansas State.
Improvement this week could be more nuanced. For example, how effectively can Will Rogers spread the ball around and involve everyone in the offense?
In the win over NC State, Rogers found Malik Heath twice in the game for a total of 29 yards, including 1 touchdown.
Leach, hilariously, compared how receivers treat quarterbacks to how people treat their pet dogs. In the postgame, Leach is quoted as saying something to the effect of if you give your dog a treat, they like you more and if you catch the ball and score, the QB will throw it your way more.
Leach made the comments when discussing how the Bulldogs can get Heath more involved in the games. Heath did not make any catches in the Week 1 victory.
So far, Rogers has completed passes to 9 players, 7 of whom are wide receivers, though his favorite target thus far is RB Jo’Quavious Marks. Running backs play a massive role in Leach’s system. They’ve already caught 25 passes in 2 games, some by design, some as check-downs. Those are the types of opportunities for Rogers to be aggressive and find players like Heath, but that takes trust and rapport.
Apparently, Leach thinks the best way to build rapport with one’s quarterback is to give them a treat like you’d give your pup. Can’t say I disagree. But Rogers must also continue to instill trust in his defense. By checking down and throwing the ball away to punt, Rogers can show his trust in the defense. This is something the QB improved on from Week 1 to Week 2.
It’s all part of his continuing maturation as he develops into one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks.