STARKVILLE — The great August question of “How are they looking?” remains unanswered for Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs matched their first and second teams against one another for about an hour and a half Saturday.
The defense seemed to have the upper hand, although coach Mike Leach was more down the middle with his first take minutes after.
“The first two series the defense dominated, the next two series the offense dominated. The last two series were mixed minus the turnovers,” said Leach, noting that he wasn’t including the third team in this assessment.
In the big picture, the offense produced four touchdowns among the first- and second-team units in six total drives.
There were two more from the down-the-depth-chart guys.
The defense, though, totaled 11 tackles for loss, eight sacks, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
It did all this without the aid of end Randy Charlton, who had 11 starts last year with five tackles for loss, four sacks and seven quarterback hurries. He was dressed and conditioning on the side.
Statistics are helpful but can sometimes be vague in these scrimmages where you’re supposed to tackle without hurting anybody.
Sometimes a play lasts a little longer for that reason and may end up as a nice pass completion or more.
Neither Will Rogers nor Sawyer Robertson surpassed 80 yards passing.
Rogers, QB1, was well under his 73.9 percent completion percentage of 2021, going 9 for 18 with 77 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Robertson was 11 for 21 for 890 yards, an interception and a touchdown.
They were both bothered by pressure.
The pressure didn’t always come from the same place along the offensive line.
The move of Kwatrivous Johnson out to left tackle to replace Charles Cross looks like it’s going well right now.
At times, the offense looked out of sync. Once, later in the scrimmage, Rogers slammed the ball to the turf after an illegal motion penalty.
Leach shouldn’t excuse the turnovers, because it only takes one at the worst time to lose a game.
Saturday he was trying to evaluate exactly where his offense is three weeks before the Bulldogs kick off against Memphis on Sept. 3.
He’d like to see more physicality from his receivers.
The first scrimmage also revealed an experienced defense and gave hope for a secondary that will limit big plays. It did Saturday.
It could be that defense carries this team at the beginning of the season.
The guess is Rogers will be fine, and someone will emerge at receiver.
This team looks like it could have a capable running game if Leach chooses to use it more.
It was hard to walk away from Davis Wade Stadium with real excitement for the offense.
But there are still long, hot days ahead and time for the offense to get better.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.