Three Keys Revisited Vanderbilt at MSU

Sometimes these recaps are hard to write in a positive light. This is one of those weeks. The ‘Dores were thoroughly outplayed by a team which looked every bit the number four squad in the country in a 51-0 beat down which, if we are honest, wasn’t even really that close.

The Mississippi State offense did what it wanted against a Commodore defense which is just too young to play at that level, while the Bulldog defense systematically shut down the Vandy offense without breaking a sweat. This is what happens when you play a team that starts eighteen seniors on the road on senior night when a team is still fighting for a playoff berth. Here is a look back at the damage.

1) Win the turnover battle – Fail

Mississippi State came into this game with just two fewer giveaways on the season than Vanderbilt. That difference is now up to five however as the Commodores had three turnovers to the Bulldogs zero on Saturday. The first half was an unmitigated disaster as all three of the ‘Dores turnovers resulted in points and Mississippi State built up a 37-0 half time lead. The fumble return touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter by Christian Holmes was one of the ugliest plays in a season which has been full of them for Vanderbilt.

With injury questions now surrounding the co-starters at quarterback it is fair to ask where the ‘Dores go from here with Tennessee up next weekend.

2) Make Dak Prescott one dimensional – Fail

Making Mississippi State one dimensional was never going to be an easy task, but with two weeks to prepare for this there was some feeling that a game plan could be established to take away something the Bulldogs wanted to do. Instead the Vanderbilt defense looked equal parts lost and inept as Mississippi State ran and passed the ball at will, especially in the first half. One of the biggest disappointments was that something as simple as tackling the ball carrier seems to be regressing as the defenders were missing open shots to take down the runners by throwing out an arm instead of leading with the shoulder.

The Bulldogs again showed an offensive balance and skill set which the ‘Dores can only dream of this year. Dak Prescott only rushed for 30 yards and only passed for 193 yards, but he accounted for four first half touchdowns. All told the Bulldogs had six rushers who combined for 283 yards which their quarterbacks passed for 219 yards. The frustrating, and worrying, aspect is that anyone watching the game knows these numbers could have been much higher if the Bulldogs had wanted to run up the score in the second half.

3) Run the ball and control the clock – Fail

The time of possession was actually one area the Bulldogs did not dominate as they only held the ball for three minutes longer than the Commodores over the course of the game. The rushing numbers were massively one sided however as Vandy just could not get anything going on the ground against a big and athletic Bulldog front seven. As mentioned Mississippi State went for 283 yards on the ground, Vandy however could only churn out 49 rushing yards on 27 carries at an average of 1.8 yards per carry. When you factor in that almost half of that yardage was on Johnny McCrary runs the picture becomes even more bleak. Ralph Webb and Dallas Rivers COMBINED for 25 yards on 18 carries, a frankly embarrassing number as the offensive line got no push and opened up no holes.

If the ‘Dores are to have a shot at keeping Tennessee out of a bowl game this Saturday then the team has to be far better in all areas than it was last weekend.

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