Back in August, Mississippi State tight end Rufus Warren shared something of an inspirational message with his teammates after discovering they were going bowling instead of practicing.
“My grandma always said, when there’s rain, there’s sunshine,” he told the camera.
But he did speak with unintended foresight.
Just as the Bulldogs went through the metaphoric rain to start the season, so they found the ensuing sunshine on Saturday, beating Alcorn State 51-7.
Even Warren himself has been in a world of rain, recovering from injury and unable to play the first two games of the season. Then Dan Mullen said after Saturday evening’s contest that Warren will be healthy and ready to play against Auburn this weekend.
His sunshine is coming.
To continue the cosmic comparison, just as surely as the sun rises, so it will set, only to rise again. Such is the burden and treasure of investment in a football team, be it fan, player or coach.
But surely, the rain passed for at least one hot, muggy, successful day.
If you missed anything from the game, make sure and check out the videos, photos, stats, story and more at HailState.com.
It was a fun one.
Notes and observations
- I’ll get to the offense shortly, because that was the focus of many going into the game, but goodness, what a performance by Geoff Collins’ defense. I recognize ASU was severely outmatched and that’s to be expected, but what this group has done the last two weeks offers a tremendous amount of promise.
- In the first half, the Braves ran 30 plays for 30 yards. One yard per play.
- Also in the first half, MSU held Alcorn to just two first downs.
- On the game as a whole, ASU only passed for 36 yards. Jameon Lewis got nearly that much in one catch for a touchdown.
- And again, it was expected, but MSU’s defensive line was dominant, racking up eight tackles for loss. ASU had no answer, even when MSU’s backups were in. Chris Jones starting at tackle and guys like A.J. Jefferson and Ryan Brown at end were superb.
- I’ll have more on this later in the week, but my favorite defensive play came when Taveze Calhoun recovered a fumble and sprinted directly to Collins to give him the ball. Loved it.
- Offensively, it would be hard to take away other than positives. @HailState tweeted after the game asking if fans were pleased with what they saw and I couldn’t help imagining Russell Crowe in Gladiator yelling “Are you not entertained?!” after destroying the competition in The Coliseum.
- MSU’s offense was just as dominant, and looked different doing so. Mullen spoke all week about taking more shots, being more creative and finishing drives. All of those things happened. Keep in mind, MSU scored 44 points in the first 31 minutes and only seven in the remaining 29. Had they not called off the dogs (get it?) it could’ve been a record-setting win.
- With several starters out, youngsters were the story, starting with Dak Prescott, who played the first two quarters. He looked sharp, accounting for 194 yards of total offense and two touchdowns in just one half.
- Three other breakout stars were true freshmen Ashton Shumpert and Fred Ross and redshirt freshman Brandon Holloway.
- Shumpert, a running back, actually didn’t even play against OSU last week, but debuted in the Maroon and White as the team’s leading rusher with 98 yards and two touchdowns. Without going overboard, he looked great.
- Ross, a receiver, made his debut last week, but also made some big strides from game one to two, leading the team yesterday with 46 yards receiving.
- Holloway, a returner/receiver/running back will get a lot of praise for his 95-yard kickoff return (as he should) but perhaps even more impressive was his average of seven yards per carry, totaling 28 on his four rushes, in addition to 25 yards receiving. He’s young and learning, of course, but his 148 all-purpose yards led the game by a wide margin. His game-changing speed can’t be ignored.
- The number of weapons MSU has developed in the offensive backfield is quietly pretty impressive. At some point, Prescott and running backs Nick Griffin and Josh Robinson were all in the backfield at the same time, 680 pounds of potential rush attack, while sophomore back Derrick Milton managed to score touchdowns both by air and ground.
- On special teams, there is little else to note other than Devon Bell being very good at kickoffs (touchbacks on five of seven kicks) and less good at passing (0-1 on fake punt attempt).
I did want to discuss one off-field development I loved. Between the third and fourth quarters, Johnny Cash’s ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’ came on over the speakers, then the video board showed a uniformed football player walking in a smoky room, quick shots of his number 14 jersey. As the stomp-clap of Cash’s tune continued, the camera settled on the tinted facemask of the player, who took of his helmet and was revealed to be MSU’s All-American baseball closer Jonathan Holder. Holder then said, “Let’s close this one out,” as the music went on.
I may not have done it justice, but it might have been the coolest thing I’ve seen in weeks. For those unfamiliar, ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’ is Holder’s walk-out song.