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MSU looks to get back to consistency

November 10, 2012

Mississippi State wide receiver Chris Smith (8) tries to break the tackle of LSU defensive back Tharold Simon (24) in last year's meeting in Starkville. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

The Mississippi State Bulldogs look to get back to being more consistent in the red zone on the offensive side of the ball.

Today, No. 22 (Associated Press) MSU (7-2 overall, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) must do it against a very tough LSU Tiger's defense.

The No. 9 (Associated Press) Tigers (7-2, 3-2) host the Bulldogs at 6 p.m. at Tiger Stadium. The game can be seen on ESPN.

In the past two games, Mississippi State has struggled to score once it got in the red zone. Both games were losses for the Bulldogs.

“Some games we’ve been good, (and) some games we’ve been poor," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. "Overall, it’s your game execution. There’s a couple of games we’ve been excellent in the red zone both sides of the ball. A couple of games we’ve been poor. To me, it is a lack of consistency. That’s what I’d attribute it to, and we have to be more consistent.”

The Bulldogs are coming off of two-straight losses. Bouncing back is something that Mullen looks at as a being something to do from week-to-week in the Southeastern Conference.

“You understand when you’re in this conference that it is the bouncing-back week after week, whether you win or lose," Mullen said. "(It's) the quality of the opponent you’re playing week-in and week-out. (In) a lot of leagues, there’s one or two big games a year. In this league, every week seems to be that way."

LSU head coach Les Miles and his Tigers are coming off a 21-17 loss to top-ranked Alabama. Miles believes that Mississippi State is a good test for his team after the emotional lost to the Tide.

"Our team recognizes that Mississippi State is a very capable football team," Miles said. "We are looking forward to playing them. It is a very quality opponent beyond the Alabama game. Our team needs to play a team that has the ability."

Mullen and the Bulldogs are looking to earn some respect with a win and close the gap between themselves and the top teams in the SEC West.

"Our kids go play hard and they take this on as a big challenge," Mullen said. "We still haven't closed the gap where I want. We still haven't come up with a win. We still have to take that next step to finally push us over the top to get a win against LSU.

The Bulldogs haven't beaten the Tigers since 1999 and haven't won a game in Baton Rouge since 1991.
The Tigers have struggled on offense this season, but they found a spark against Alabama last week.

LSU picked up 435 yards and gained 22 first downs against the Tide. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards and one touchdown.

"(Mettenberger) played his best game of the season in his most critical moment," MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. "He made some throws and they were more prevalent. He had to throw the ball more. When he went out there and let it fly, he was pretty efficient."

The Bulldogs offense has started slow in the last two losses. They have been unable to finish drives as well as start drives.

"More consistent execution of plays is what it comes down to on both sides of the ball," Mullen said. "We have to execute cleaner on both sides of the ball. We made some plays (if) you look in the first half (of the Texas A&M game), but there always seems to be mistakes that jump up, and that’s what slows you down.”

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