Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Mississippi State center Jamaal Clayborn talks about his team's loss to LSU.

It took some time, some adjustments and some good ole fashioned grit, but Mississippi State find some rhythm offensively against the Tigers of LSU. Protection was an issue in the early going and that allowed the Tigers some time to gain some separation from the home standing Bulldogs. In his first home start as the Mississippi State center, Jamaal Clayborn turned in a solid effort.

"I am looking forward to practice, continuing to get better and the next game," Clayborn said after his team's 21-19 loss to LSU. 

In the first half, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott was under duress on nearly every passing down. As the second quarter wound down, the Bulldogs began to have some success protecting their talented signal caller.

The second half showed a much different offensive attack thanks in large part to a solid effort by the Bulldog offensive line.

"We just realized what they were doing," Clayborn said. "You know they didn't play a game last week. We were kind of going by the seat of our pants with the new defensive coordinator they have, Coach (John) Hevesy and Coach (Dan) Mullen put us in the best position possible. We just have to go out and do a better job executing."

The Tigers were able to provide some fresh looks on both sides of the ball, but Clayborn reports that the Bulldogs were able to adjust. State staked the Tigers a 14-0 head start, which proved to be too much to overcome once the final horn sounded.

"They had a defense that we had been practicing all week," Clayborn said. "We just didn't execute at the right time. We finished well in the fourth quarter. We just have to get better. A lot of it came with communication. I should have communicated better early on in the game. We are going to get better.

"I understand what Coach Hevesy and Coach Mullen were trying to get us to do. We just needed to get out there and execute. That was the biggest thing."

So much has been made of the fact that LSU had the element of surprise due to not playing a game last week, but Clayborn says that his team is not using that as an excuse for coming up short in a game that the Bulldogs could have clearly won.

"We knew what to expect," Clayborn said. "They have good players and we didn't execute when the time was called. We just have to do our job."

The Bulldogs dominated the fourth quarter of the game and put themselves in striking distance on the game's final play. The field goal attempt missed the mark and the Bayou Bengals emerged victorious. 

Clayborn believes had his team had a little more time that they would have been on the celebrating end of the Saturday night affair.

"If we had more time on the clock or a few more plays here or there, we would have won the game," Clayborn said. "There is no doubt in my mind.

"In our off season conditioning, Coach (Rick) Court does a great job. We are a physically fit team and mentally fit. That was our type of game, a physical game."

As the Bulldogs' first place hopes sailed through the air towards the uprights on the game's final snap, Clayborn was counting on a little divine intervention.

"I was just praying that it went in," Clayborn said. "We are just trying to keep a positive mindset. There is a long season ahead of us. We just have to continue to get better in practice and move forward in the season."

The Bulldogs will return to action next week as they host Northwestern State at 3 PM at Davis Wade Stadium. Tickets are available for sale through the Mississippi State ticket office. 

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