The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldogs send the Tigers home with the blues

Courtesy Photo | Mike Mattina

Mississippi State Wide Receiver Rara Thomas protects the ball during the game between the Memphis Tigers and the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Mississippi State University football kicked off the 2022 season in dominating fashion with a 49-23 victory against the University of Memphis Saturday. 

The Bulldogs got their revenge against the Tigers during an impressive performance on both sides of the ball for the majority of the game. Junior quarterback Will Rogers picked apart the Memphis defense during the first quarter, and the MSU wide receiving corps were equally impressive.

After the Bulldogs’ victory against the Tigers, Rogers gave his thoughts on the performance from the wideouts.

“(They were) terrific. They did an outstanding job,” Rogers said. “I don’t think one guy played better than anybody else. I think we played well as a group, inside and outside receivers. You know, for yards after the catch and things like that, we did a great job tonight. As a group, as a team, we have a lot of work to do. We are not where we need to be yet.”

The gunslinger continues to make his case as one of the top signal-callers in the Southeastern Conference. Rogers threw for a career-high 450 yards and continues to jump former MSU quarterbacks in many statistical categories.

However, the Bulldogs’ success against the Tigers was not accomplished only by the offense. MSU’s defense was arguably as impressive as the offense.

Graduate linebacker Jett Johnson had an outstanding performance Saturday night recording 13 total tackles in the win against the Tigers. Johnson swarmed to the ball during every play, showing why the Tupelo, Mississippi, native has hopes to play on Sundays sooner rather than later. 

After the game, Johnson discussed his motivation and success at getting to the football.

“Like I always say, I am living the dream. The motivation and fire are always there. I am blessed to be able to play this game at the level we are playing. I just try to do my job as a part of the defense, and sometimes I would look up and get some tackles,” Johnson said.

MSU’s offense, defense and the X’s and O’s were not the main topics of conversation in the first quarter Saturday night, though. With 7:25 remaining in the first quarter of play, the officials announced the game would undergo a weather delay due to lightning within a five-mile radius of Davis Wade Stadium. Well, the weather delay ended up lasting three hours before it was announced that the teams would finally be taking the field at 9 p.m. to warm up. 

The rain and lightning did not give the MSU football team nor fans the blues. Even though over half of the stadium filed out due to the weather conditions, many fans stayed and continued to ring their cowbells as loud as they possibly could.

During the postgame press conference, MSU head coach Mike Leach mentioned the challenges of dealing with the weather delays.

“(It is) quite a bit less difficult than I thought. Over the course of it, we had a few false alarms like, ‘Okay you can go out. Well, no you can’t. Maybe you can. Now you can’t.’ So, that was kind of distracting. We handled it pretty good. We handled it better than I expected,” Leach said.

The Bulldogs had been waiting for this moment for a long time. After last year’s controversial ending against Memphis, the Bulldogs were determined not to let what happened in 2021 occur this year.

Of course, there is always room for improvement. MSU made some mistakes, including a Rogers’ interception and a backwards pass that gave the Tigers some momentum.

Next week’s game against the Arizona Wildcats will be a huge test for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Adjusting to the climate and time change will be an obstacle MSU will face as they travel to Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats beat San Diego State 38-20 Saturday and appear to have a talented offense that can put up points.

Bulldogs fans, buckle up and have your caffeine on standby, because next weekend’s game is a late one. The Bulldogs face off against the Wildcats Saturday at 10 p.m. CT on FS1.

About the Contributor
Dylan Flippo
Dylan Flippo, Former Sports Editor
Dylan Flippo served as the Sports Editor from 2022 to 2023.
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Bulldogs send the Tigers home with the blues