Somehow Mississippi State found a way to lose to Iowa after holding the Hawkeyes to negative 15 rushing yards in the Outback Bowl. Yes, you read that correctly, Iowa finished the game without a net gain on the ground and one of 11 on third down but managed to beat Mississippi State 27-22 on New Year’s Day.
Here’s everything Joe Moorhead had to say after the disappointing loss in the game:
Moorhead opening comments:
“Certainly very appreciative of the Outback Bowl, Mr. McVey and the committee extending the opportunity for us to be here.
“It was a tremendous week for us and our players and our families, one of the best Bowl schedules and setups we’ve been around in terms of time for preparation and time for activities and things for our players to do. So certainly thank you for that opportunity and it was awesome for our guys.
“For today, certainly want to extend congratulations to Coach Ferentz, his staff and his program, very hard-fought game against an excellent opponent.
“And you know, from our perspective there was too many things and too many missed opportunities throughout the course of the game that we didn’t capitalize on, too many penalties; and I believe it was eight for us, and second time this year that the opposition didn’t have one called on them. But that that didn’t have a factor on the game. Can’t turn the ball over. Can’t give up explosive plays. Got to score touchdowns and can’t have penalties take plays off the board.
“So certainly it’s my responsibility to get those things corrected and they are right moving forward. Very appreciative of our seniors who decided to play in this game, and Jeffery Simmons who declared for the Draft and a credit to them for today and their entire season, everything that they have done for Mississippi State throughout their careers.
“Kids fought their tail off, and ultimately we didn’t do a good enough job of coaching them and putting them in position to be successful. Certainly when the opportunities were there for us to make plays during the whistles and between whistles, we certainly didn’t do enough to earn the right to win.”
Question: You talk about missed opportunities. The field goals instead of touchdowns at the beginning?
Certainly that’s something, the holding penalty that took the scoring position away right before the half, and then a couple times down in there, having to settle for three instead of seven, in a tight game like this when you’re chasing points, that makes a bunch of difference, particularly down there at the end of the game.
Question: The quarterback run —
Well, they are bringing seven to eight people on the blitz and there’s not many things that you can dial up to kind of free someone up and get an extra guy. So quarterback run is part of the plan that we had in anticipating the defense that we saw; and actually he had an option whether to run, hand it off, or run it or throw it on all those ones, and the read all dictated that he ran it.
They had all the interior gaps, plus people off the edge, plus another guy on top of that. So there’s only so many things you can do running the ball to have an opportunity down there.
Question: The ball bouncing off in the end zone, did he say anything about getting the ball? Did he come back with any explanation?
I was communicating with the guys up top about the series, but certainly that’s not the only reason, you know, he made some big plays throughout the game, but you can point back to a bunch of things throughout the course of the game that could have changed or dictated the outcome. That was a huge momentum swing there. You don’t score a touchdown and you get three on the board and you’re up there; instead of that, you’re taking points off the board for you, and I believe they scored a field goal on that drive. It was definitely a momentum shift.
Question: And missed opportunities, seems like every penalty came —
At an inopportune time?
Question: A number of them.
I think more than anything, a cumulative effect. Had the long run called back for the offensive face mask. You had first and goal at the one called back for a hold.
So a lot of them not just were negative yardage, but yards from a result of what the play was and a lot of those were positive.
Question: Down on the sideline, did he actually lose consciousness —
No, not that I saw. He went through protocol. He was checked out by our trainers, so he was cleared to go back in.
Question: What did you see on the long pass?
Little communication issue on the back end relative to what coverage we were in.
Question: Did Iowa do anything different than you expected?
There were some tweaks. I don’t think anything major on either side of the ball but certainly when you have this much time to game plan, there’s not going to be wholesale changes. But there are going to be things you bring into the game plan that are a little bit different than what you’ve done throughout the year, but I would say for the most part it was pretty steady.
Question: Is that a help or a hindrance, having that much time?
I think it’s a help, just for a developmental standpoint where you get your young guys work early on in preparation, and you get — move ahead and get no opponent preparation. I think it’s good to get all those extra practices, one for development and two for preparation.
Question: Finishing your first year 8-5, how do you feel about that? Is that about what you thought?
I would have felt if it was 9-4 after today. But you look at all the games we lost to quality opponents, we had opportunities in all of them and didn’t come out on top for different reasons.
But ultimately, we won’t be satisfied until we’re 14-0. We finished the regular season 8-4, won the Egg Bowl, had an opportunity to win our ninth game in a Bowl game and we weren’t able to finish it off.
Question: They had trouble running for almost the entire game. What was the game plan?
I think he did a very good job. In our preparation, you know, kind of having, you know, an idea how we wanted to attack them, trying to get a numbers advantage at point of attack and certainly our guys executed it, and having very good players up front at the second level.
Question: How were inspired you by the way you came out today at wide out and running back?
It’s just a package. A lot of that two-quarterback stuff is predicated on what the defense does and kind of their, you know, the stack nature of some of the stuff where it gives you an opportunity to put a package together that you know will have an opportunity to be successful, and we’ve got some mileage. Had an opportunity on the one that Nick threw him in the first half, could have split for a touchdown. I thought that was something that gave us an advantage of what they do schematically.
Question: Going down that early in the game, how does that impact the secondary?
On a day we’re rotating a lot of people and for mow who has had a productive year, certainly hurts from a depth standpoint and rotation standpoint.
Question: A common theme in a lot of the losses this year, how concerning is it that you had over a month and they the penalties still reared their ugly head today?
Any time you have that number of penalties, I think it is a concern. I don’t think it necessarily had much to do with the amount of time that we had to prepare.
You look at the situations and not many of them were pre-snap penalties that we saw there in Kentucky that were off-sides and things of that nature, you know, pass interferes, offensive face mask, a couple holds, those are things that are happening during the course of play and none of which are acceptable but are kind of a little bit different than some of the multiple-penalty things that we saw early in the year that were pre- or post-snap. The ones you don’t like are the celebration ones and things like that, and there was only one of those.
Question: How much was the block — especially on the edge
For three years now or two or however long, seems like forever, that guy, you know, he does an unbelievable job. He has a great array of pass rush moves. He can beat you with speed. He can beat you with power. He has a good counter underneath. The Nelsons and No. 42, they have a very good defensive line.
Question: Where do you expect the most progress between year one and year two?
I think you want to see overall progression, maybe not necessarily pick one area. We’ll go back when the season ends and watch all the cuts on three phases and do a self-scout of things we do well and what we need to improve on, and how much of that is changed based on how much of our personnel is returning.
Ultimately at the end of the day, you want to make sure you’re putting a plan together that’s going to increase your win total on a yearly basis.
Question: What did you tell your guys going into the half? Clearly you guys came out with a lot more energy in the second half.
Yeah, I think we cleaned up some of the penalty stuff. A lot of the reason was a lot of self-inflicted issues in terms of, you know, the celebration penalty that extended a drive that allowed them to score, some of the fundamental and technique withholds and stuff like that.
So we need to get back to our brand of football and executing and playing with a little better precision and especially the special teams with the interception, being able to build points off of that helped.