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

Defense refocuses at home, puts up solid showing against UK

Olivia Zeringue – The Reflector

Coming into Saturday’s game, Kentucky’s offense was averaging 27.5 points a game. MSU’s defense held that offense to just seven points.

Mississippi State University defense (5-2, 2-2 SEC) walked off the field on homecoming night looking sharp once again, after a dominant performance over the University of Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC).

Going into the bye week two weeks ago, MSU’s defense was coming off of two abysmal performances. They gave up 31 points and 404 total yards of offense to the University of Georgia and 49 points and 511 yards of total offense to Auburn University.

However, since the bye week, MSU held BYU to 10 points and UK to seven.

Junior defensive lineman Braxton Hoyett said the bye was a good mental break for the defense.

“After those games [Georgia and Auburn], we just came together,” Hoyett said. “I feel like that bye week really helped us get our minds back together.”

Big plays have consistently killed MSU this season. Against Auburn, MSU gave up 331 yards on six plays. Against Georgia, they gave up a 59-yard touchdown pass to open up the game. 

However, against Kentucky, the defense played with discipline. Kentucky took shots down the field repeatedly but came up short, never completing a pass longer than 20 yards.

Kentucky saw only one play go longer than 20 yards. It was a 23-yard scramble by Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson, who found a hole in the defense after he was unable to find an open receiver downfield. 

Head coach Dan Mullen said the difference was not only in the defensive backs but in some of the linebackers, like Willie Gay, winning their one on one match-ups.

“There were some times they took some shots, and it was one on one and 50-50 balls,” Mullen said after the game. “We won the 50-50 balls today and that is a big deal in a game.”

Part of the difference is being at home compared to on the road. Both Auburn and Georiga were road games, and, this season, MSU’s defense has been much better at home than on the road.

At home, MSU has only given up 24 points across four games, but on the road they have given up 101 points to their opponents.

Part of this is the comfort of being at home, and part of it is the level of the opponents they are playing.

However, junior linebacker Gerri Green said another major part of this success comes from having the crowd on your side.

“This crowd, just hearing them and having them behind us, it makes a big, big difference,” Green said. 

Beyond the motivation to play well at home, the MSU coaches have given the team some extra push to win in Davis Wade stadium.

For every loss at home this season, the MSU football team has to run the entire stadium, and, so far, MSU has avoided running those stairs.

“Every home game we have to protect our house,” Green said. “Every loss in this stadium means another run and we don’t want to run that stadium too many times.”


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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Defense refocuses at home, puts up solid showing against UK