“A win’s a win. We’ll take it.” – Dan Mullen
It’s hard to argue his point, or the list of implications behind his seven words. Nine if you count contractions.
The Falcons are a good team, to be sure, but MSU’s margin of victory likely should’ve been greater.
Senior quarterback Tyler Russell summed up the game pretty well when he said his Bulldogs made a lot of sloppy mistakes and shot themselves in the foot a few times.
MSU did not play great, fault them for that. But they won anyway, and they deserve credit for finding a way to do so despite less-than-stellar play.
A mediocre team plays poorly and gets beat. A good team struggles and still wins.
Outside of any specific or general criticism, Mullen’s team at least proved it has the fortitude to overcome mistakes, a sometimes-complacent crowd and a litany of injuries.
The feeling in post-game interviews defined the game and its outcome pretty well, with a bit of lethargy and disappointment in the words and movements of players, who weren’t nearly as happy as could be expected after a Homecoming victory.
The smiles came easy, but they didn’t necessarily stay, as each player who came into the interview room had positives to discuss, but an overall feeling of improvements being needed.
Honestly, it felt like the mood after a bad practice. They’re not happy, but it’s not the coming of doom. I don’t like clichés, but no harm, no foul. Tomorrow comes soon enough, and MSU has a full week off to get both healthy and polished.
Like Mullen said, a win’s a win. The Bulldogs are halfway to bowl eligibility.
- I think Mullen has had it figured out for a while now, but Saturday was further proof that he’s got his quarterback position set. Russell and Dak Prescott were both on the video board announcing each other as starters, and it fits.
- Mullen says he has two starters at quarterback. Between the pair, they completed 19-of-25 passes for 177 yards, while gaining 155 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, 331 total yards at the quarterback position.
- It’s clear to anyone what the strengths of each are, but watching Russell run for first downs and Prescott hit deep passes over the middle show how effective they can be and Mullen has clearly figured out how to use them, both drive-to-drive and play-to-play.
- Russell and Prescott both had plenty of highlights, but maybe the most impressive was Prescott’s 75-yard touchdown run. We knew he could run well, but with his thicker 230-pound frame, I’m not sure how many runs like that were expected. He’s faster and more elusive than I thought.
- Oh, and credit freshman running back Ashton Shumpert for making a big block to seal that touchdown, as well as good blocks elsewhere in the game.
- Speaking of running backs, welcome back, healthy LaDarius Perkins. He was at 100 percent for the first time since week one and it showed. He averaged over five yards on his 16 carries, picking up 83 yards and a touchdown on the ground, in addition to four receptions for 21 yards. While Prescott is rushing 10-plus times per game, it’ll be hard for Perkins to break 20 carries, but him being comfortable and effective with the ones he gets is important.
- Two receiver notes: Joe Morrow (team-high four catches for 57 yards) is getting better every week, and true freshman De’Runnya Wilson is playing more and more, getting an increasing numbers of looks from his QBs. MSU had eight receivers make catches Saturday, and every single one is back next year. It’s a young group, but the future is promising, without mentioning the present ability and production.
- Mullen tells us that every single starter on the offensive line was out with injury at some point during the week, though all but Blaine Clausell were ultimately able to play, with freshman Justin Senior taking his place at left tackle. With new players and nursed injuries, you could see the line struggling some, but MSU still managed to rack up 245 yards on the ground. Long-term, there doesn’t seem to be much concern. Just gotta get healthy.
- Defense seemed like a mixed bag for MSU. Early in the game, it seemed Bowling Green could do very little, but the defense struggled getting off the field and ending drives.
- Two impressive stats: MSU had eight quarterback hurries and eight pass deflections. Pass rush and length continue to be a strength for this unit.
- The secondary is an interesting group to watch, where a wealth of talent meets a corresponding lack of experience as injuries have wreaked some havoc. Injuries to Jamerson Love and Jay Hughes in particular have made it difficult on a young group.
- We also saw the debut of sophomore corner Will Redmond. He made a special teams tackle on his first play and played relatively well throughout the game. He hadn’t played a live football game in nearly two years, so he can’t be expected to come in and be a superstar, but he looked good and played better than some may have expected for his debut.