September 10, 2017 12:45:36 AM
RUSTON, La. -- Daryl Williams was one of the new pieces Mississippi State was trying to break into its offensive line, doing so the only way it could: throwing him into games and letting him learn that way. That experiment hit a hiatus Saturday night as a shoulder injury took him out of Saturday night's game against Louisiana Tech.
Michael Story was the man plugged into his place; MSU went on to run for 327 yards and over 8 yards a carry. As MSU coach Dan Mullen put it, "We were rolling with Michael a little bit and just kept it going."
For that rushing performance, both running back Aeris Williams and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald gave all the credit to Story and the offensive line. The message to Story as he entered the fold was simple.
"We just told him to go up in there and do his thing, and that's what he did," Aeris Williams said. "The offensive line, they played their tails off, they really did."
MSU linebacker Gerri Green was not on the field, but all he could think was, "Someone fall on the ball."
It took 87 yards for someone to do just that.
In the fourth quarter, with Louisiana Tech facing a second-and-goal on the 6-yard line, the snap veered out of quarterback J'Mar Smith's hands: over the next 10 seconds several players for both teams got hands and feet on the ball but never gained possession, continuing to bounce it back to the Louisiana Tech 7-yard line. Once the calamity ended, Louisiana Tech was facing a third-and-goal a full 87 yards away from the end zone.
Mullen likened it to soccer: "We looked worse than Liverpool this morning."
MSU defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons joked after the game that MSU was likely to end up on both sides of SportsCenter's featured plays: the good side for his scoring two touchdowns, the bad side for the comedy of errors that left Louisiana Tech in that situation.
Dantzler ejected for targeting
MSU cornerback Cameron Dantzler was ejected for targeting in the third quarter, meaning he will be suspended for the first half of next week's game against LSU.
Dantzler was tackling Louisiana Tech wide receiver Cee Jay Powell, who had just crossed the field on his pass route, when Dantzler's shoulder seemed to make direct contact with Powell's face mask. The targeting rule bans, "forcible contact," to the head and neck area, thus Dantzler was ejected without making direct helmet-to-helmet contact.
Gibson second back in
While freshman running back Kylin Hill made his college football debut last week against Charleston Southern in the second quarter, Nick Gibson watched from the sidelines. His first action and carries did not come until the third quarter.
Fast forward a week and Gibson is the first running back to enter the game in giving starter Aeris Williams a break. He ended the game with five carries for 15 yards, but getting in the game that early showed where the coaching staff is on both players.
"Him and Kylin, both very talented players that you want to get on the field and you see why," Mullen said. "It's one of the hardest things: you look at the film and you see these guys run the ball, but there's a lot more they have to do. Aeris played a bunch and had nine carries. There are a bunch of other things you have to do and they are still growing and maturing.
"(MSU running backs coach) Greg (Knox) is constantly staying with them and really trying to accelerate those guys because they're really talented guys."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter, @Brett_Hudson
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