Know Your Foe: Mississippi State

We talk about Mississippi State with writer Steve Robertson, who covers the Bulldogs on a daily basis.

1. Describe the atmosphere you are expecting to see this weekend for the game? How important would a win be for the program?

It is being billed as the biggest home game in Mississippi State history. The team is ranked in the top five nationally for the first time. The winner of this game could very easily be the number team in America on Sunday. All tickets are sold and there are some projections that suggest close to 100,000 people will be on campus with or without tickets. Followers of the team entered the season with a lot of optimism, but even the most positive thinking of fans would have to admit the Bulldogs are exceeding expectations. With back to back wins over LSU and Texas A&M, two teams the Bulldogs had not beaten under Mullen, euphoria is high. A win over Auburn on Saturday would probably be the biggest win in school history, because of what it could mean in rankings and the SEC pecking order heading into the second half of the season.

2. How much improvement have you seen from Dak Prescott this season? Is he the type of player Dan Mullen has been waiting for?

Dak has always been a tremendous competitor, but after going through the spring and summer knowing he was the starter has pushed his confidence to a new level. He has developed a lot as a passer over the course of the last 12 months and a lot of that can be credited to the addition of new quarterback coach Brian Johnson, who played and coached at Utah. Prescott was always the type of quarterback needed to run the Mullen system, because he could make all of the throws and handle the running component of the scheme. The work ethic, character and true grit is something he brought on his own.

3. What is the biggest area of concern on defense for Mississippi State against Auburn's offense?

The biggest concern is being able to trust what you see or what you think you see. The defense did a pretty good job limiting the Auburn ground game last season, but nobody can rest on that. I have never seen a Malzahn coached team go into a game looking unprepared, so I am certain there will be some new wrinkles offensively. The size and ball skills of the Auburn receivers is a real concern as well against a secondary that has been a tad leaky at times. They have given up some yards late with leads that sort of skew the stats, but there is a size advantage on the side of the Tigers in the vertical passing game.

4. What makes DeRunnya Wilson one of the toughest match-ups in the league at receiver?

Many expected Wilson to redshirt last season, but he showed up and simply outworked expectations. He has proven to be a real blue collar type who works hard at the little things. He is extremely confident and that confidence has grown by leaps and bounds since he elected to commit himself to football full time. He is bigger and stronger and he understands the nuances of the position a lot better this year. His best football is ahead of him and that's a comforting thought for Bulldog fans.

5. What is the biggest key for Mississippi State this weekend in order to get a win?

I think MSU has to win the time of possession and keep Nick Marshall and Auburn off of the field as much as possible. When Auburn gets separation, they know how to shorten the game. State needs to start quickly and keep the ball in the hands of #15 and control the tempo of the game. State can score quickly, but I don't think State wants a shoot out. I think a ground and pound affair favors MSU and with that comes a strong running game that eats up the clock and scores points.

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