It's true that Jackson State didn't present even close to the type of defense the Mississippi State Bulldogs will see on down the line later this football season.
Still, it was nice to see the balance the Bulldogs showed offensively during Saturday night's 56-9 victory over the visiting Tigers.
In the first half, MSU had 39 offensive plays with 20 pass attempts and 19 rushes. The Bulldogs had four offensive touchdowns, two on the ground and two through the air. You can't get much more even than that.
"I did notice that in the first half, but at the end of the day, it didn't end up that way," MSU football coach Dan Mullen said. "While the one's were in there, (the balance) was good. We had a couple of sloppy things in there, but we had a lot of guys touching the football."
After playing primarily backup roles the last couple of seasons, quarterback Tyler Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins showed that they were ready to assume control of their respective positions for the Bulldogs.
MSU got a pair of touchdown runs from Perkins in the first half, an 8-yarder in the first quarter and a 1-yarder in the second.
Russell had a 9-yard scoring pass to Chad Bumphis on the opening drive of the game, then added a 13-yard touchdown strike to Marcus Green in the second quarter.
With a little bit of protection from an offensive line that didn't appear to have very many miscues, Russell was able to throw the football pretty well. He was off the mark on a few of his attempts, but for the most part, his effort was strong.
The junior from Meridian completed 15-of-23 pass attempts for 175 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Even though Russell put up some good numbers, Mullen saw some flaws in the performance.
"There were a couple of reads that could have been better," Mullen said. "At times, it looked like he tried to do too much."
Russell did a good job of spreading the wealth in the first half. Arceto Clark caught three passes, while Green and Chris Smith had two receptions each. Others had one catch each, including former West Lowndes player Brandon Hill.
It was a nice way for Russell to start the season and he has come a long way for MSU since taking those first snaps as a redshirt freshman in the Maroon-White Spring Game on April 17, 2010. Remember, he had two interceptions that day and no touchdowns.
The Bulldogs used Jameon Lewis at quarterback out of the wildcat formation, while Dak Prescott got his chance at signal caller with 8:43 left in the third quarter and scored on a 2-yard run.
Mullen said it was good to get Prescott in the game and get his feet wet.
The Jackson State game allowed for many MSU players to gain experience immediately.
Now the Bulldogs turn to next week's crucial Southeastern Conference opener against the Auburn Tigers.
If Mississippi State wants to reach the goal of making it to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, then beating Auburn needs to happen.
"We have a lot of things to improve on and get cleaned up entering conference play," Mullen said.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.
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