Mississippi State: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Sept 8, 2012; Starkville, MS, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Kiehl Frazier (10) reaches out for the loose ball which ended up in a turnover for the Tigers during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Auburn Tigers 28-10. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–US PRESSWIRE

The Auburn Tigers attempted to get things back on track yesterday in Starkville, Mississippi as they took on the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the second game of the season. This game was very important for both squads as they opened SEC West play. In Week 1, Auburn fell valiantly to a good Clemson team in Atlanta, and Mississippi State rolled over an overmatched Jackson State team to open up their season. The position matchups and close games of the past between the two teams set the stage for what many recognized as one of the best and hard fought SEC rivalries in the conference.

Auburn did not get the memo.

Even though the first half ended with State leading 7-3, the end result was very telling as the Bulldogs soundly defeated Auburn 28-10.  The scoreboard does not directly reflect the actual game. Auburn was dominated on both sides of the ball and outcoached for much of the contest. What seemed like a promising Auburn squad when they took on a top opponent in Clemson last week, yesterday’s performance leaves the Auburn Family scratching their head in disbelief. The defeat sends Auburn to 0-2 (0-1 in conference play) for the first time since 2003. Although yesterday’s game could best be described as “ugly”, I hereby give you the good, the bad, and the ugly against Mississippi State.

The Good

Sure, I could write about how the Auburn defense bailed out the Tiger offense’s lack of production throughout the first half. For a change of pace, I could tell you about Onterio McCalebb’s kickoff return for a touchdown to begin the second half, but let’s talk about the elephant in the room that nobody wants to discuss: this Auburn team is just not playing well right now. They look disastrous and confused on both sides of the football. The only positive thing I could take away from watching yesterday’s performance in Starkville is this: at least the Auburn Tigers got away without any injuries.  Sorry, but besides the few highlights I mentioned to begin this breakdown, having no injuries is about the only positive you can take from the game yesterday. The Tigers may be banged up, but they will have another week to prepare with everybody on board (See the Arkansas game last night for the impact of injuries).

The Bad

I know I mentioned above how the Auburn defense prevailed in a lot of first half battles when the Tiger offense left them with their backs against the wall. The defense’s effort would have been described as “good” if that same effort had continued in the second half. Once again, for the second week straight, the Auburn defense stalled out after halftime. Now, make no question about it, the offense certainly did not help them out with possession. Although Auburn’s time of possession was 29:19, the majority of their drives were very short lived with turnovers and 3 and outs.

The total yards given up were actually better than the Clemson game: Mississippi State finished with 222 passing yards, 166 rushing yards, and 388 total yards. It is not necessarily the yards given up that created the eye sore in the second half. It was, once again, bad tackling and bad angles taken. Also, it appeared that once the offense really started to sputter, the defense lost complete confidence in what they were doing. They made a first year starter, Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell, look like the second coming of Peyton Manning. Russell finished the game with 3 TD’s, going 20-29 with 222 yards.  It would have been different if the defense’s effort had continued into the second half, but it looked like they just gave up. That’s never something to be proud of. I know fans can take and understand disappointments when the effort is there, but when it seems like their team quits, that is when fans really begin questioning what is going on with the mentality of their team.

The Ugly

Sometimes, I wonder if there is another word I could use for the term “ugly”. With that being said, the Auburn offense looked pathetic yesterday. True Sophomore Kiehl Frazier started the second game of his young college career, and I am sure it is a performance he would like to forget. At the end of the day, Frazier finished 13/22 with 125 yards and 3 interceptions. He also lost 2 fumbles thus giving him 5 turnovers. Frazier’s turnovers resulted from a mixture of things. With his favorite targets Lutzenkirchen and Blake being covered up for the majority of the game, the young QB looked indecisive in all his throws. Also, what is the deal with the playcalling? You enter a hostile environment, and you do not build the confidence of your young QB by giving him easy reads or throws? Mark this down: Frazier is going to be a great quarterback. Notice how I said “going to be”. It is the coaching staff’s job to build him. Give him some easy throws early in the game. Give him easy reads so he can get in a rhythm. The Auburn offense looked absolutely lost in yesterday’s performance, and the blame falls completely on the shoulders of the Auburn coaching staff.


What started out as a promising year after a tough fight against Clemson, is now left in questioning due to the lackluster performance yesterday. This team has talent. There is no doubt about that. The past 4 recruiting classes have finished in the top 20 rankings. The past 3 recruiting classes finished in the top 10 rankings, but something is just not clicking with these Tigers. Are the new systems placed in by new coordinators on both sides of the football causing poor performances? Are the highly recruited athletes being coached up to their true potential? No matter what the case is, there is one thing that I am sure of: the Auburn Family can handle defeats. We can handle getting beat by a superior opponent, but when our beloved Tigers lose like they did yesterday, questions begin to surface. If things do not change starting this week, it could certainly be a long year for the Tigers.