Mississippi State trying to fix offense, correct mistakes from opener

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, September 8, 2016

Associated Press

Mississippi State’s first game without star quarterback Dak Prescott was a dud.

The offense stalled, the defense gave up big plays and special teams had crucial errors in a stunning 21-20 home loss to South Alabama. Now coach Dan Mullen is trying to figure out some answers before Mississippi State (0-1) opens Southeastern Conference play against South Carolina (1-0) on Saturday.

Email newsletter signup

“There are issues everywhere that we’ve got to get fixed,” Mullen said.

Mississippi State had a productive offense the last two seasons largely thanks to Prescott, who is about to make his first NFL start with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Prescott was a perfect fit for Mullen’s version of the spread offense — gifted at running and throwing while making quick decisions with the ball.

Now the Bulldogs — who blew a 17-0 halftime lead on Saturday — are trying to run the same offense with quarterbacks Damian Williams and Nick Fitzgerald.

Through one game, the results weren’t pretty. The Bulldogs had 382 total yards and scored just three points in the second half against a Conference USA defense.

“If you look at grades, guys actually graded pretty well and did a good job,” Mullen said. “Then there would be a glaring critical error at a key moment of the game.”

Williams played most of the game under center and had some success, completing 20 of 28 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown while also running for 93 yards.

But the 6-foot-1, 229-pound junior isn’t much of a threat to throw deep down the field. Once South Alabama figured that out, the Jaguars were able to contain the Bulldogs’ short passes and running plays.