STARKVILLE — Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning sent out a tweet Sunday night following the Bulldogs first loss.
“Film doesn”t lie,” Koenning tweeted.
The “film” Koenning is referring to is the game tape from MSU”s 41-34 loss to Auburn on Saturday in which quarterback Chris Relf was stopped at the goal line in the waning seconds.
The tape also showed MSU allowing 6.5 yards per carry to Auburn. The performance prompted MSU coach Dan Mullen to call the defensive performance “embarrassing” after the game.
“Since I”ve been here we”ve always rebounded pretty strongly,” Mullen said. “We handle adversity pretty well around here. That”s kind of what our program is based on because year round we try to put them in adverse situations.”
Sunday”s film session wasn”t a pleasant experience for MSU players. Nobody received the highest ranking — “champion” — the coaches give during the evaluations.
“As players sometime we joke that if we won, we would”ve graded out as a champion,” MSU junior cornerback Corey Broomfield said. “When you lose, nobody is a champion. That”s how it should be, and (we) expect nothing less from the coaches.”
MSU assistant coaches were unavailable for comment after the game Saturday and before practice Monday.
Mullen and the players said that missed tackles was a major reason why tailbacks Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb rushed 29 times for 218 yards and two touchdowns Saturday.
“You just go back to the basics, gapping the run game,” MSU senior defensive Sean Ferguson said. “We didn”t execute our game plan and it”s the defense as a whole.”
Through two games, MSU is 11th in the Southeastern Conference in rushing defense (199.5 yards per game).
“You”ve just got to fix it,” Mullen said. “You”ve got to practice it and correct the errors the guys made and make sure they don”t happen again.”
MSU”s 11 defensive starters know LSU”s coaches and players can read statistics, which is why they expect the No. 3 Tigers, who average 175 rushing yards per game, to load up the ground game against the No. 25 Bulldogs.
“I expect them to think they can just run it, run it, and don”t expect anything else,” Broomfield said. “We got a chance to right this wrong.”
Broomfield noticed on film a lot of Bulldogs were in one-on-one situations Saturday, which forced players to make open-field tackles. Unfortunately, he said too often the Bulldogs didn”t wrap up.
“We got to run to the ball because tackling isn”t a one-man deal,” Broomfield said. “There wasn”t a lot of missed assignments. Everybody gets to the ball and finishes the play we”ll be fine.”
Auburn also effectively attacked MSU”s inexperience at linebacker. The Bulldogs lost all three starters from last season.
“We didn”t get our eyes in the right spots and they do a lot of misdirection stuff to get us off our keys,” redshirt freshman linebacker Matthew Wells said.
Said Ferguson, “I guess we probably got too comfortable. We are a physical defense, but we have to wrap up and make tackles.”
Junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said the defensive line will take the
criticism of its performance Saturday from the coaches and the media personally as it prepares for LSU (2-0).
“I look at the rushing yards and take that personal because as a starting member of that defensive line we know the responsibility starts with us,” Cox said.
LSU”s eight rushing touchdowns in its first two games is the most to open a season since 2001, and are split between Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, and Alfred Blue.
“I think a hot hand (at tailback), a hand that is reminiscent of ball security, and a guy that is fresh are the best options,” LSU coach Les Miles said Monday. “It is very comfortable for us to look at Spencer Ware and see the things he has done. I think when Michael Ford comes in fresh there is just a little bit more juice.”