BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi State made a gallant comeback Saturday night, a comeback that fell short in a 23-20 setback to the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge.
LSU, wearing special throw back uniforms, jumped out to a 23-3 lead at halftime in Baton Rouge. MSU would outscore the Tigers 17-0 second half to close the gap.
The Bulldogs (1-2) are now 1 and 1 in SEC play and travel to Boston 2:30 Saturday, a date with UMass. The Minutemen defeated FIU 21-13 on Saturday.
Maybe the new uniforms can pump up the Mississippi State players.
Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen grew up 80 miles from the stadium in Manchester, New Hampshire. So, the game is somewhat of a homecoming for the MSU head coach.
Mullen said, "It's a great place to grow up, [I have] a lot of great memories growing up there. It's a beautiful type of year to be up there right now in this early fall. Foxborough is a little south so I don't know how much foliage we'll get around the stadium. If you head up a little further north you can see some nice foliage, so it's a beautiful deal, a really neat experience, fun for me to get back towards home and play a game. For most of the guys on our team, if they do their state count they'll be able to check off -- I think we land in Rhode Island and we'll play up in Massachusetts -- so they'll be able to check two states because I can guarantee you there's very few people on our team that have been to either Rhode Island or Massachusetts. I bet some of our coaches are able to check those two off too that haven't spent a whole lot of time up in the Northeast."
Mullen knows his Bulldogs can't take any team for granted.
"It's going to be a tricky road trip for our guys this week playing against a good UMass team, "stated Mullen. "They've already played an SEC team and ACC team and played pretty well, played pretty quick on defense, got a lot of quick guys, a lot of different pressure stunts and movements on the defensive side of the ball. They'll try to create as much chaos as they can on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, they throw the ball pretty well. They've got an explosive running back and a different environment, obviously a long road trip for us going up to the Northeast. (We) might have to get the heaters out even with how hot it's been here. Even just looking at the weather forecast, I think it's 30 degrees colder than any practice they we're going to have this week. We've got to be prepared for that and get ready to just go play hard. It's going to be a big key for our guys of staying focused with this being our second straight road game."
Mullen says his team came out with more aggression in the second half after falling behind by 20 points.
"We played harder. We obviously played much better in the second half of the game overall, offense and defense, even special teams wise. I don't know whether it was just our guys getting settled in, relaxing to a point, a rousing half time speech of just relax, play hard every single play. All of a sudden we started doing it and we started executing. I thought in the first half there were plays there to be made. We just weren't making them, both run and pass, offense and defense, and maybe in the kicking game. We just weren't making the plays that were there to be made. I think our guys settled down in the second half. We started making the plays that we expected to make and unfortunately dug ourselves a little bit too big a hole to dig out of at that point."
The LSU defense did a good job on containing sophomore QB Nick Fitzgerald. The week before he had plenty of success running the football in the win over South Carolina.
"When you're running option football, whether it's zone read options or other things you're just going to take what the defense gives you, "said Mullen.
He also commented on junior quarterback Damian Williams.
"We caught the ball, "stated Mullen. "We were moving the ball in the second half pretty well. One-on-one situations we won a couple. We missed a couple early in the game, won some, missed some early in the game, and we kind of hit most of them in that second half, especially in the fourth quarter."