Cutting Out Mistakes Means Cutting Back Plans

Coach Woody McCorvey agrees the issue with Mississippi State's offense is individual errors at crucial times. So, how does the coordinator intend to cut out such mistakes? "Cutting back, on some of the things we're asking them to do," he said Monday afternoon. "If you've got problems right there you don't keep adding, you cut back to try to minimize your mistakes."

That cutting-back process began after review of Mississippi State's 3-2 home loss to Auburn in the SEC West opener. After the Bulldog offense managed just 116 yards and no points, Coach Sylvester Croom pointed to the same sort of critical mistakes—whether by blockers, runners, thrower, or catchers—that turned promising plays into lost chances.

McCorvey is of the same mind as his boss. "And that's what we did, just about every time the other night when we had a critical situation something came up. We had a missed assignment on it, a technique problem or a fundamentals problem. We've got to cut those things out."

To that end, the offensive staff spent Sunday going over their plans for this weekend's inter-conference contest at Georgia Tech (noon ET, Raycom and ESPN Gameplan) with an eye toward trimming things this offense has struggled with through three games and settling on what the Bulldogs can do best. And, do it better.

"We're so close to being the offense we want to be," quarterback Wesley Carroll said. "And it may not have looked like that Saturday night, but we really are one play away from having the expected offense. And we'll get there."

Certainly one play would have been sufficient to change the course of the Auburn game, though of course the Tigers—which managed only one made field goal in three tries and lost the ball five times—can say the same thing. Still Mississippi State's frustration is much more meaningful after failure to score, or convert on third downs, or take advantage of so many gift-wrapped opportunities.

But Carroll was openly confident upon leaving the practice field Monday afternoon. "There's no doubt in my mind or anyone on this team, we feel very optimistic about what we're doing and what we're capable of doing still." And what does the quarterback think this offense is capable of? A lot more than they've shown through three games.

"We do expect to have a balanced offense, run and pass. And we expect to move the ball on our opponents efficiently. Have multiple seven-plus-play drives and keep our defense off the field." No Dog has more admiration for how State's defense handled the #9-ranked Tigers. And even if the offense failed to sustain series, their counterparts never complained. For that matter, Carroll noted, "We didn't have many snaps but we still tired Auburn's defense out. Had we been able to sustain drives we've have tired them out before the third quarter."

With Georgia Tech working from an aggressive option attack, the emphasis is that much greater on State's offense keeping the ball moving, clock running, and this time produce points. And at this juncture coach and quarterback agree that cutting back on plays, or at least variations of such, is a good way to go until the entire offense is able to function efficiently. Carroll acknowledged that at least some of the mistakes come from the extreme degree of execution required to make anything work.

"It's demanding, and it keeps this offense in check," said Carroll. "Everybody has to do their assignment. It's a very rare case where a play can go for positive yards where somebody messed up an assignment. It holds everybody accountable and as long as everybody does their 1/11th of a play it will be a successful play."

McCorvey doesn't want to add any features to the scheme now; but he does want to add some players. As in, get some fresh talent on the field. At halfback there might not be a choice with starter Anthony Dixon questionable for now with a groin strain. And alternate Christian Ducre was guarding a sore knee Monday afternoon in drills. So this could be the opportunity redshirt Robert Elliot has waited for. Where Dixon and Ducre are pounders, Elliot is a speedster who has yet to break free in his few snaps.

"That's one thing we've got to do," McCorvey said. "We didn't have any explosive plays. We've got to get somebody in there that can make some things happen. Robert is one of those guys. And (WR) Delmon Robinson, we've got to get them on the field and hopefully get the ball in their hands where they can make something happen."

MONDAY INJURY UPDATES: Dixon remained in the training room for treatment and did not report to the field today. Ducre wore a protective sleeve on the right knee, but should be able to play Saturday. A pair of starting linebackers are also hurting. WLB Dominic Douglas was the only Dog in a red-cross, with a strained Achilles tendon; and SLB K.J. Wright was limited with a sore ankle.

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