STARKVILLE — I thought Mississippi State freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader might play in Saturday’s game against Kansas State.
But I thought that would be contingent on the health of Tommy Stevens, not (what appeared to be at first) an outright benching.
And as it turns out, MSU coach Joe Moorhead decided to sit Stevens for the rest of the game because his shoulder injury from a week ago flared up, not because of his three turnovers (two of which were on him).
Nonetheless, the full-bearded freshman signal caller and Stevens’ lingering injury have inspired a quarterback conundrum. You would have liked that to come after a win, but alas, Kansas State defeated MSU 31-24 at Davis Wade Stadium.
Moorhead is going to have an interesting decision on his hands on what to do with his quarterback depending on the status of Stevens’ shoulder. One could say Shrader showed promise, others might mention he looked like a true freshman in his first Power Five action. More on that later.
A quick programming note for those who are new here: Bulldog Bullets will be a weekly recurring article filled with short observations and commentary written throughout Mississippi State football games that posts shortly after the final gun.
To the Bulldog Bullets:
– I’m just going to put this out there: Shrader has his freshman warts. Misreads, poor throws and instances of staring receivers down were there. That being said, I’m incredibly bullish on his future. He also sparked a touchdown drive on his first series, tried flying (literally) to get the first down for MSU and got absolutely launched in the air in the process. You can question his mechanics (for now), but you can’t question the kid’s heart.
– Kansas State coach Chris Klieman has won 24 straight games as a head coach.
– You don’t see the power I-formation all too often in college football anymore, but Klieman is in love with it. He ran it a bunch Saturday and did the same thing at North Dakota State.
– You almost have to wonder if MSU punter Tucker Day intentionally kicked his punts short hoping Kansas State would muff them. It worked, twice!
– So ends Mississippi State’s 16-game streak of holding opponents to 30 points or less.
– MSU right tackle Greg Eiland almost got Stevens obliterated multiple times. He’s had better days.
– Cameron Dantzler’s absence was definitely felt in the MSU secondary.
– Stopping the Wildcats on 4th-and-1 on the defense’s opening drive had to feel good for a Mississippi State defense that was getting completely gashed on the run (41 rushing yards allowed on the opening series).
– Stephen Guidry didn’t exactly help his quarterback when Stevens’ pass went off his hands and into Harry Trotter’s arms for the MSU quarterback’s first interception of the year.
– The first quarter was a very pitiful performance by the MSU offense. Thirty-nine total yards, three rushing yards, three first downs in total, a turnover, two punts, three yards per play, zero points.
– That muffed punt from Kansas State’s Jordon Brown single-handedly gave MSU’s offense life when it seemingly had none.
– Can sum of Stevens’ second-quarter fumble, that he lost on his own accord, with one word: Woof.
– Oh my goodness, Osirus Mitchell. The wideout continued to assert himself as MSU’s No. 1 receiving option with an outstanding one-handed 35-yard touchdown with nine seconds remaining before halftime. It was a perfect catch on a perfect throw.
– Boy, did State need that last-second first half touchdown. MSU had to feel fortunate it only trailed 17-14 at the break considering how mediocre the Bulldogs played.
– Isaiah Zuber had a pretty critical third-down drop on the first series of the fourth quarter. The Kansas State transfer didn’t have a good day against his former mates and finished without a catch.
– Perfect disguise on MSU defensive coordinator Bob Shoop’s blitz that gave defensive back Brian Cole II an opportunity to wreck Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson in the fourth quarter. It’s no wonder Thompson fumbled on the sack, but it’s a minor miracle he got up after that vicious hit.
– It was very hot for the second week in a row with temperatures reaching the 90s. No disputing that. But I’m going to give Mississippi State credit for giving every fan a free bottle of water and providing free refill stations. I can’t blame anyone that doesn’t want to sit in that heat for three-plus hours, but the athletic department is doing everything it can to make it more bearable.