“Yeah, I was offensive player of the week. And one of the main things to get out there as a receiver is block, to stay on the field. Basically I went out there and got my job done. And doing that means more than anything towards the team.”
Now to be clear, this team-first approach was more than sheer selflessness. No receiver worth his routes wants a secondary role in the Mississippi State offense. But when necessity—i.e., the Southern Mississippi defense—forced adjusting, there Wilson was willing to adapt on the fly.
“I mean, the game plan was they were going to play cover-one, man to man. When we got out there they were double-teaming me.” No surprise, really. The Eagles knew who the first option in State’s air game is.
But by putting a pair of defenders on Wilson, it only made it easier for this Bulldog wideout to take them out.
“I got a lot of two-for-one blocks, just releasing inside, the cornerback going with me digging at the safety. That just comes with doing the little things on the football field.”
Not that blocking is a little thing. His two out-in-open takeouts of Eagle defenders were pretty Dog-goned big, and Wilson had some less-noticed blocks as well.
Still…he came to college to catch passes. If #25 Mississippi State wants to defend the home field this weekend against #14 LSU, the ball has to come Wilson’s way more often. Just like it did last September when Wilson got State started in a defining victory at Tiger Stadium with his highlight touchdown grab.
So LSU is warned coming into the rematch. “But you can’t stop a big-time player from making big-time plays,” Wilson proclaimed. “That’s what I bring to the offense. And hopefully I can play like a monster out there this weekend.”
The 6-5 junior ought stand tall in Tiger scheming. Enough of them have seen Wilson first-hand, or by now on screen. Wilson knows a few of these cats, too, even if one of them is wearing a different jersey than two years ago.
“I actually scored my first touchdown against him my freshman year.” There are other seasoned Tiger corners and safeties, and now a freshman phenom who’ll have to be evaluated quickly. LSU barely got going before their opening night was washed away, so Wilson and squad don’t have a lot of fresh material to review about a new defensive coordinator.
“We watched Clemson film, what kind of coverage they were playing, how they disguised things.” Tiger teams are rightly proud of being able to play it straight in coverage year-in and year-out. But as the Bulldogs saw last week, defenses can come out in unexpected sets, too.
Wilson is optimistic either way.
“We’re just looking forward to them coming out and playing man-to-man.” Which is where Wilson should thrive. But, “If they play zone Fred Ross is going to get off. It’s going to be a big matchup for the receivers, a big test for us to get the job done.”
Of course Mississippi State aced a big test with last year’s win in Baton Rouge, first such success since 1991. Now this team can go for the first victory over a visiting LSU team since 1999. When Wilson was all of five years old.
The grown-up Wilson is still proud of the Tiger Stadium triumph. “We put a dent in it. But playing at home, it’s going to be a big test. They haven’t played their first game yet and I know those guys are going to be pumped-up to play.”
So will be the Bulldogs. There are plenty veterans of the 2014 who won all seven home-field contests, remember. This is a streak Wilson wants maintained.
“Because we don’t lose in that stadium,” he said. “If you expect to win all the time, you’re going to get your job done.”