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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Electric atmosphere leads to dominate Bulldog victory

Noah Siano | The Reflector

60,596 fans packed the stadium for the SEC opener against LSU on Saturday.

There were few places on Saturday night with more electricity and energy than Davis Wade Stadium, the energy Dan Mullen and his team harnessed to blowout LSU in the fashion of a 37-7 victory.
For many around the country, the upset of No. 12 LSU (2-1, 0-1) was a shock, but to quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and the Mississippi State University football team (3-0, 1-0) it was expected.
“Honestly anyone inside this entire football facility, this entire week, they were never said it was going to be called an upset,” Fitzgerald said. “We knew were going to be able to come out there and play with them.”

A night to remember in Davis Wade

Following the game, Mullen and the players who talked to the media raved about the crowd and their impact. 60,596 fans packed the stadium for the SEC opener. They were loud throughout the night and after every play the cheers grew louder and louder. At one point, Bully crowd surfed in the student section.
On Saturday night, Davis Wade turned into one big party and the players joined in on the fun, jumping around and doing their part to hype the crowd. Mullen spoke after the game about the energy, giving the fans credit and saying they deserved “a huge round of applause.”
“Our student body and the fans were unbelievable tonight,” Mullen said. “They created an unbelievable atmosphere with a home-field advantage; we took advantage of that.”

Offensive balance was key

On the field, MSU picked up momentum early behind the duo of running back Aeris Williams and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Williams was MSU’s workhorse, carrying the ball 23 times for 146 rushing yards, an average of 6.3 yards a carry.
While Williams never scored, the payoff for MSU came in the third quarter when MSU ran a play-action fake to Williams and fooled the LSU defense. The fake left wide receiver Keith Mixon wide open down the field for a 45-yard touchdown pass. Mixon was Fitzgerald’s favorite target Saturday night, catching the ball nine times for 97 yards.
Using the run to set up the pass helped MSU create a balance between running the football and passing the football, something Williams said was key.
“We were balanced, so that helped everybody out,” Willaims said. “The offensive line, the quarterback and the receivers, we all did a great job tonight and LSU could not stop us.”
The most lopsided position matchup was at quarterback. LSU had a game manager in Danny Etling, MSU had a game changer in Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald scored four touchdowns, two on the ground and two in the air. He also had 90 rushing yards and went 15-23 through the air for 180 passing yards.

Energy level the difference on defense

There is a huge difference between the defense MSU fielded last season and the one they field this season. Players talked about how first-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has brought more energy to the defense with their motto of “fast, physical and aggressive”, but defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons noted after the game that Grantham cannot make them play with energy on the field. They as players have to do it.
“We have that mindset that we want to be undefeated and we just come to practice every day,” Simmons said. “I feel like whatever we do at practice needs to contribute to the game. Guys come to practice every day with their energy and it has paid off in the game.”
Simmons was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week last week and followed up that performance with another big showing Saturday night. He was third on the team in tackles with seven, he also had 1.5 sacks and two QB hurries.
Before the game, the defensive players talked about how they needed to key in on LSU running back Derrius Guice. Something they did, limiting the running back to 75 yards on 15 carries and no touchdowns.

MSU finally finds a kicker

Coming into the season, the most competitive position battle was at kicker. That battle had raged on the past couple weeks, but it was put to rest tonight as Jace Christmann took control of the job. He went 3-3 Saturday night, making kicks of 30, 45 and 27 yards.
Christmann found out Friday night he would replace Tucker Day as starting kicker for the first time.
“He had the best stats at practice this week so we went with him and took advantage of him,” Mullen said. “He took advantage of the opportunity and did a heck of a job.”
The play of Logan Cooke was another big special teams victory. Cooke punted the ball three times, none of which were returned, for an average of 46 yards. He downed two inside the LSU 20. Also, five of his eight kickoffs were touchbacks, and the two that were not, the LSU return man was downed inside the 25-yard line. Overall, Cooke provided a huge field position advantage for MSU.

On to Georgia

MSU does not have time to rest on their laurels as they travel to Athen, Georgia, to take on the No. 13 University of Georgia Bulldogs (3-0) who have an impressive win over Notre Dame earlier in the season.
The game will kickoff at 6 p.m and ESPN will broadcast it.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Mullen said. “We have to get better for next week.”

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Electric atmosphere leads to dominate Bulldog victory