September 30, 2018 7:28:38 AM
Tweet length review of the game
Women lie, men lie but numbers don't, and this offense has problems. Some fixed by coaching, some fixed by better play, but problems all the same.
- Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks had more passing yards (219) than Mississippi State had total yards (202).
- In Dan Mullen's nine years at Mississippi State, the Bulldogs were held to 202 or fewer yards of total offense three times. That's already happened twice to Joe Moorhead.
- Florida hasn't won a conference game with 3.5 yards per carry or fewer since beating Georgia in 2016. The Gators did that in Starkville last night. (MSU hasn't done that since the Auburn game of 2015.)
- It may not seem like it, but MSU's offense actually didn't operate slower than it normally does. Over the first four games, it averaged a play per 27.9 seconds of possession; against Florida, it was one play per 27.1 seconds of possession. It was noticeably slower in the first half, so something had to pick up in the second half.
- No Bulldog defender had more than 10 tackles -- except for Erroll Thompson, who had 14. He had five solo tackles; Johnathan Abram was second on the team in total tackles with eight.
- Jace Christmann is now a perfect 6-6 in the 30- to 39-yard range in his career.
What about this game will be remembered in January?
More than the night that Dan Mullen returned to Starkville and won, this is the night Joe Moorhead and offensive staff lost the faith of the fan base. A good bit of that happened against Kentucky, yes, but there was a lot to suggest that was a one-game aberration. Not anymore.
There is a lot that will be thrown to utter and complete madness this week, and here I rank which ones I'm most concerned about.
- Pass protection. I have resigned myself to seeing MSU quarterbacks terrorized from the edge all season.
- Play calling. I feel like a few quick fixes could make big strides, but at this point my question is how big those strides are and what the next step is from there.
- Quarterback play. Nick Fitzgerald is going to be a subject of contention for the fan base in a lot of ways -- and even I won't say all of them are unfair -- but I find bigger issues in things happening around him than what he's doing. Quarterbacks need more help than people think they do; yes, Fitzgerald could do more with what he's currently being given, but it's not that he's being given a ton, either.
Quoting Joe Moorhead
- "We're seeing a lot of formations to the sideline, a lot of unbalanced (formations) and the defense worked on that all week, put in some new checks. They ran quick screens into the boundary and I thought we did a good job of routing them and tackling, but it's something we'll continue to see moving forward."
- On personnel evaluations going forward: "We'll look at the film tomorrow and make determinations from there. At this point offensively, we have to make sure in no uncertain terms we're getting the best 11 on the field."
- On the pace of the offense in the first half, slower than it normally is: "We want to be in the best play possible against the look presented, whether that's going fast or checking to the sideline to get us in the right play."
Quoting the Bulldogs
- Defensive end Gerri Green: "Those are two teams for the SEC East, we haven't gotten to the West division yet. Those games were tough, but we have to keep moving forward."
- Dan Mullen on Nick Fitzgerald: "One of the big things we wanted to do with him was try to pressure him but try to keep him in the pocket."
- Mullen on Feleipe Franks: "I thought he made some really good decisions, good checks and good throws down the field."
- Mullen on seeing former players after the game: "I met with that team to tell them I was leaving before I told my Mom, my Dad or any other person in my family. That first people that found out were the players in that locker room that I was going to move on. After that meeting a bunch of them came up and gave me hugs. This is the next time I've seen any of them. When you're that close to people, I know how hard those guys work and what they want. I know they're going to have a great rest of the season because they're a talented group and a tough group of young men. That's why I was probably emotional after the game.
Top 3 rushers: Lamical Perine (UF) 10-55, Kylin Hill 9-41, Nick Fitzgerald 20-32.
Top 3 receivers: Josh Hammond (UF) 3-47, Osirus Mitchell 3-35, Trevon Grimes (UF) 4-34.
Top 3 defenders: Erroll Thompson had 14 tackles, Johnathan Abram had eight with a pass breakup and Mark McLaurin had seven with a pass breakup. Florida had two defenders with seven tackles, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Vosean Joseph, Joseph adding a sack and Gardner-Johnson a tackle for a loss.
Auburn at home. It will be a night game but the exact time and network remain to be determined: 6 or 6:30 p.m. on ESPN, ESPN2 or SEC Network.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson