Know Your Foe: Mississippi State

LSU gets its first taste of SEC action this Saturday night in Death Valley when Mississippi State comes to town. TSD gets the inside scoop on the undefeated Bulldogs from Gene's Page co-publisher Steve Robertson.

1. Has the fact that Dak Prescott is now the man at quarterback, not splitting time equally with another at the position, changed the way he plays or approaches the game? And what about the offensive play-calling – is it any more protective of Prescott?

Robertson: There is no question it's his team. Last year he was thrust into the starting role when Tyler Russell, a senior, was injured. We've see a more decisive QB this year and I think he's simply more comfortable, because he's been able to prepare all offseason knowing he would be the guy. They've been pretty vanilla on offense so far other than a pair of gadget plays with Jameon Lewis. Dak is also sliding more and getting out of bounds rather than taking unnecessary hits. He's protecting himself for the long haul this year.

2. Seven different Bulldogs, including Prescott, have caught touchdown passes this season. Who are the main receiving threats, particularly in the red zone, that Tiger fans should worry about most?

Robertson: Jameon Lewis is the SEC's leading returning WR. Defenses have keyed on him this year, which has opened up more opportunities for others. De'Runnya Wilson is a big-bodied X WR that is a real tough draw in the redzone. TE Malcom Johnson is another guy they dial up the passing game close to the goal line. All of that said, they will find a way to get the ball in Lewis' hands. He had a big game against LSU last year. His dad works for the EBR school district.

3. Defensively what in the world happened in that UAB game (548 total yards conceded, 435 passing, and 34 points)? And is that indicative of how this Mississippi State pass defense will be this season or was it an aberration?

Robertson: UAB schemed against MSU pretty well. They also ran a lot of plays they didn't show on film the week before against Troy. New coach, new scheme and new attitude there. They did a good job in the vertical passing game and it's a concern. They ran some deep passing routes from formations that showed run, which had the safety out of position to help in the deep third. The group did better last week, but still a couple of guys were open against South Alabama they just didn't come down with the ball.

4. Just how disruptive of a force has DT Chris Jones been so far? Discuss his development from year one to year two in Starkville.

Robertson: Chris is doing well. He's very active and he's around the ball. He's running with what Geoff Collins calls the 1B defense, but he's getting a lot of snaps. He's still maturing and still learning technique. He's winning on athleticism, but will need to refine the skill set to have the same level of success against the SEC teams. I am eager to see how he does at LSU against the interior OLs there. It should be a good measuring stick.

5. The Bulldogs haven’t scored a victory in this series since 1999. Many believe this is their best chance in a number of years. Do you get the sense from being around the team/coaches that they believe this year will be different, and why?

Robertson: There is a lot of confidence in Starkville not just about the weekend, but the direction of the program as a whole. From Pee Wee to the Pros the teams with the best QB generally win. MSU has a very good one who has shown some flashes of greatness. For the first time in several years, the Bulldogs have a QB who can run all facets of the offense and who shows the leadership needed to win. On the other side of the ball, it's a very deep, athletic and experienced group. With State's ability to run the football and to stop the run, there's a lot to be excited about. For the first time in a long time, fans aren't assuming a loss to anyone.

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