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SMITH COLUMN: Second half much better for Bulldogs

October 21, 2012

It took the Mississippi State Bulldogs a little while to get going on offense Saturday night.
Once MSU starting clicking, it looked more like the 15th-ranked team (Associated Press poll) in the country and poured it on the visiting Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.

There were a few bumps along the way before the Bulldogs came away with a 45-3 homecoming victory at Davis Wade Stadium.

MSU head football coach Dan Mullen was not a happy camper during the second quarter.
He had every reason to be upset.

It appeared that the Bulldogs were just going through the motions at times and that's something that just can't happen.

MSU held a 10-0 lead and Devon Bell missed a 35-yard field goal that would have increased the advantage by another three points.

That's when Mullen made a point to address certain members of the team on the sideline about the way the situation was going. His anger was evident.

The Bulldogs had their moments and looked good from time to time, but it wasn't consistent. The crowd at Davis Wade Stadium had a very difficult time staying in the game because of it.

Mississippi State didn't score in the second quarter and quarterback Tyler Russell fumbled the football away with 1:20 left before halftime.

The Bulldogs only had 211 yards of total offense at halftime. Russell had 199 yards passing by himself against Tennessee one week earlier.

With MSU only up 10-3 at the half, Mullen was obviously not pleased during his talk with ESPN sideline reporter Jessica Mendoza before heading to the locker room.

He must have lit into his team pretty good at halftime because the Bulldogs came out and played much better in the second half.

"We just had some mental breakdowns," Mullen said. "The thing with me was they just didn't play with the intensity and focus. Getting that back was the message at halftime."

MSU finally hit a home run with 7:30 remaining in the third quarter when junior running back LaDarius Perkins had a 64-yard touchdown run.

After that, the Bulldogs were fine.
Mississippi State finished the game with 446 yards of total offense. There were 231 yards on the ground and 215 through the air.

The Bulldogs kicked it in gear when they had to and were able to remain undefeated going into next week's matchup at Alabama.

MSU is going to need a much better start if it has any hope of knocking off the No. 1 team in the country.
"We've got to play like (the second half) against Alabama all four quarters," Russell said.

Until that opportunity, the Bulldogs can celebrate a happy homecoming and enjoy being 7-0.

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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