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

Bulldog defense, special teams sputter against the Hogs

Adam Sullivan | The Reflector

MSU was helpless when it came to stopping Arkansas Wide Receiver Treylon Burks (pictured) this past weekend, as the junior wide out tallied up over 100 all purpose yards against the Bulldogs.

This past Saturday, the 17th ranked Mississippi State University Bulldogs travelled to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for a gridiron matchup with the unranked 5-3 University of Arkansas Razorbacks.

MSU ultimately fell to the Hogs via a final score of 31-28. What was the highlight (or in MSU’s case, lowlight) of this game one might ask? The Bulldogs left nine points at the feet of different kickers throughout the course of the game, three of which came after one of the best drives Will Rogers and his receiving corps have put together all season. 

MSU head coach Mike Leach offered one of the most memorable quotes in recent Bulldog history after the game. 

“There’s an open tryout on our campus for kickers. Anybody that wants to kick … at Mississippi State, we’ll hold a tryout any time you can get over there to our building, provided you’re cleared by the NCAA.”

In reality, as much as MSU fans wish that it would, the kicking woes did not sum up the entirety of the loss the Bulldogs suffered on Saturday. As in every instance, several factors played a part in the Bulldog loss, but this game, it was one that nobody really expected. 

All season long, the MSU defense has been about as solid against the rush as one can expect. This past weekend, however, that just was not the case. 

The Bulldog defense gave up a whopping 202 rushing yards in the losing effort on Saturday, the most they’ve given up in a single game all season, including the 49-9 loss against Alabama.

Couple that with not being able to muster any kind of turnover, and the Bulldog offense was really asked to do a lot in terms of keeping the team in the ballgame. Will Rogers, though, did not shy away. 

After throwing an interception early in the game, the sophomore gunslinger found his groove and was able to finish the game with 417 yards passing and four touchdowns on 36-48 attempts. Although the final score was by no means what he had hoped for, Rogers turned in a gem of a game. 

He could not have done so, however, without the help of his receivers, who managed to make plays all day long. Rogers completed passes to nine different targets, with junior wide out Makai Polk leading the pack as usual with eight receptions for 117 yards. It was a “fresher” face, though, that would steal the show in terms of Bulldog point production. 

Freshman wide receiver Rara Thomas has slowly been creeping his way into the rotation this season, receiving more snaps and targets as each game goes by. On Saturday, he showed everyone just why he’s been climbing the ranks as of late. The freshman brought in four catches for 63 yards, with two of those being for touchdowns. 

Rogers summed up Thomas about as simply as one can after the game.

“He’s a guy that gets open, he catches the ball, and he scores,” Rogers said. 

Fair enough. 

MSU will look to right the ship this next weekend, as they face a tough Auburn team on the road for an 11:00 a.m. kickoff. 

About the Contributor
Tanner Marlar
Tanner Marlar, Former Managing Editor
Tanner Marlar served as the Managing Editor from 2022 to 2023. He also served as the Sports Editor from 2021 to 2022.
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Bulldog defense, special teams sputter against the Hogs