Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Talking About Auburn's Next Opponent, Mississippi State

Steve Robertson from Scout's Mississippi State site discusses the Bulldogs and answers five key questions going into this week's showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

 1. What has made Dak Prescott such a better and more prolific passer so
 far this season?

Robertson: Dak is being smart with the football and not just laying it up there and
hoping for the best. From time to time, he still has some ball placement
issues, but for the past six quarters he has been very good. One of the
main factors is the play of his receiving corps, which may be the best in
school history from top to bottom.

He has a lot of weapons around him that really help in the passing game. Teams can't just sag the coverage to
De'Runnya Wilson's side. There are enough guys who can make plays in the
pass pattern that force defenses to be honest.

2. Who is the player on this years Mississippi State team that Auburn
 fans might not know, but will after Saturday?

Robertson: Wide receiver Fred Ross is having a big year and you could kind of see
that building towards the end of last year. MSU moved him to the slot in
the spring, which has given him the middle of the field to work with.

He's a fleet footed guy with great hands. He's a tough match-up for a safety
when teams go to man coverage. Wilson gets a lot of headlines among the
receivers, but Ross is beginning to come into his own

 3. How is the inexperienced offensive line progressing for the Bulldogs
 this season?

Robertson: It is still a work in progress, but everybody on the line has started
before this year at some point. Once of the biggest adjustments has been at
left tackle. Converted tight end Rufus Warren had to transition from
playing 15 to 20 snaps a game last year, to around 60 this year. It's been
a mixed bag so far. Elgton Jenkins, who many consider State's next big
lineman, rotated a good bit at left and right tackle last week.

If Warren struggles this week, they won't hesitate to rotate Jenkins in. Warren had
some issues in the first half against LSU, but he's picked it up some since
then. The interior guys have played pretty well, but with two new starters
in there they have had to develop some chemistry.

 4. What have you seen out of this Mississippi State defense to allow them
 to have such a strong start?

Robertson: They've been great on third down. Tackling has been better in spots, but
last week we saw some tackles for loss broken. The secondary has been
better for the most part, but they haven't really been tested with any
regularity. A lot of that has to do with the quality of the opponent and
the fact that LSU was determined to run the football.

I think the jury is still out when it comes to defending the deep third, but an improved pass
rush has helped avoid some of that so far. While there haven't been a ton
of sacks recorded, the quarterback generally is affected by pressure.


 5. What does Mississippi State need to do to win the game this Saturday?

Robertson: State has to get off to a fast start and probably win the first quarter.
Auburn is still Auburn and you get a sense around the football complex that
the team expects a real fight from the Tigers. This series has been very
competitive in recent year and it's basically a must win for both teams.
The last thing anybody wants is to have to play from behind and let the
crowd get behind a team that is better than they showed a week ago.

I don't think there is anyone in Starkville, Mississippi who expects anything other
than the best game Auburn has played this season. In order for the Bulldogs
to win, they will need that fast start and to protect the football. They
can't give Malzahn extra possessions to work with.


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