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Bulldog Brunch: Arkansas

 

 

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Tweet length review of the game 

 

There are stress-free wins and then there are easy wins. I was expecting a stress-free win; this was an easy win. 

 

 

 

Stellar stats 

 

- 29 first downs for the Bulldogs tied the season high, matched their performance against Louisiana-Lafayette. MSU hasn't had 30 or more first downs in a game since last year's BYU game and hasn't hit that number in a conference game since the 2015 game against Kentucky. 

 

- In converting seven of its 10 third downs (70 percent), that's as good as MSU has been on third down against a conference opponent in at least a decade. Hitting 70 percent against any competition is still a rarity, something that's only happened two or three times in that decade when including non-conference opponents. 

 

- MSU ended up costing Arkansas more yardage in tackles for a loss (76) than Arkansas had in net rushing yards (69). 

 

- Nick Fitzgerald is now just the third quarterback in SEC history to have three seasons of 10+ passing touchdowns and 10+ rushing touchdowns, the other two being Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott. 

 

 

 

Obscure facts 

 

- Grant Harris got the first start of his career on Saturday. He started in what is normally Jeffery Simmons' spot, a nice gesture to give the senior the start on Senior Day. 

 

- The game had more fumbles -- five, three of them lost -- than it did punts, four. 

 

- Running back Dontavian Lee nearly doubled both his carries and rushing yards for the season in this game. He entered with 10 carries for 40 yards; against Arkansas, he had seven carries for 38 yards. 

 

 

 

What about this game will be remembered in January? 

 

What a fitting end it was for so many seniors. Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams, obviously, but even Justin Johnson, Chris Rayford (hitting the punter to force the fumble), Dontavian Lee getting seven carries. A feel-good day all the way around. 

 

 

 

Quoting Joe Moorhead 

 

- "I thought the kids responded well. I thought we played a complete game, executed well in all three phases. We talk about explosive plays and converting on third down, we were able to do that; we talk about stopping the run and making them one-dimensional offensively on the defensive end, limiting explosive plays and stopping them in the red zone, and we were able to check that box." 

 

- On Nick Fitzgerald: "He's got a bulldog spirit and a bulldog toughness to him." 

 

 

 

Quoting the Bulldogs 

 

- Nick Fitzgerald on Arkansas: "They run a very simplistic defense in their first year there. They haven't really gotten to install any of the quirky things about it, so you see a lot of man, a lot of single pressures and a lot of Cover 4, something our offense is really designed to attack." 

 

- Fitzgerald getting a jab at the defense about the fumble sequence: "It's crazy how much success they have and they still can't pick up a fumble." 

 

- Justin Johnson on Fitzgerald: "I've been around Nick so long, and I've seen him progress, take hits and adversity. It's been really good and emotional for me to watch him grow while I grow with him." 

 

 

 

Quoting Arkansas 

 

- Coach Chad Morris: "This is completely unacceptable -- unacceptable in all areas. Unacceptable coaching, unacceptable playing, unacceptable effort. It's not what we're about. It's not what this program is going to be built on. It's absolutely not accepted." 

 

- Morris on bringing defensive coordinator John Chavis down from the press box at halftime: "For them to see the urgency in his eyes and his voice." 

 

- QB Ty Storey on the MSU defense: "They brought a lot of stuff at us. We knew that they were a blitz-heavy than, we knew they had a lot of packages. We were ready for a lot of their stuff, but there was also some stuff they had game planned up, it was good stuff." 

 

- WR De'Vion Warren on Morris after the game: "He was very disappointed in our actions and our body language. He told us it would be a gut check tomorrow and we'd see who would really be man enough to be able to come in tomorrow after this, move on and put our best foot forward." 

 

 

 

Game Leaders 

 

Top 3 rushers: Aeris Williams 15-104, Nick Fitzgerald 14-85 TD, Rakeem Boyd (Ark.) 14-84. 

 

Top 3 receivers: LaMichael Pettway (Ark.) 4-83, Justin Johnson 3-59 TD, Austin Williams 2-52 2 TD. 

 

Top 3 defenders: Santos Ramirez had 11 tackles for Arkansas and Dorian Gerald accounted for 1.5 of the Razorbacks' two tackles for a loss. Erroll Thompson had 10 tackles, 2.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks, but none of them compare to the career game from Johnathan Abram: 12 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. 

 

 

 

Next Up 

 

The. Egg. Bowl. Thanksgiving night from Oxford. 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson

 

 

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