You know the feeling…it’s like watching a movie you’ve seen a thousand times, and you are at that one scene-that you are sure that this time…this time, it’ll will turn out differently…but it doesn’t. And during my whole ride home from Starkville Saturday night, we were still on the goal line, with 3 tries to get in. After being fed for 4 quarters with the greatest sport that God has given us, I left Davis Wade feeling as empty as I ever have. But, time heals all wounds as they say. It provides the necessary exhale, and a chance to evaluate circumstances.
So where do we go from here, and what did we learn from this game?
First of all, this game is done-it’s over-lets forget it. And with putting the past aside, we are forced to take the good out of this game. The Bulldog Nation HAS to move on, keep their heads UP, and no let what’s BEING built-fall apart. And I think ‘now’ is a more critical time than ever, to stand behind this team, to show up, and pull for them every Saturday-like we did this past one. Because nothing gets rid of the taste of losing, like winning. So what are some positives I took from this game?
First of all, State came into this game as 12 and a 1/2 point underdogs, and lost not by 4 points, but by a matter of inches. To me that speaks volumes. Why? Mainly because Mullen has taken a team that was picked dead last in the SEC, and has put together a product that took the #7 team in the country- to the wire. I look at it as a good thing that State fans actually had the chance to be ’sick’ over a game…that we actually ‘expected’ to win that game down the stretch. So with that said, if Mullen has made-what appears to be huge leaps and bounds since December, imagine how much more this team will improve over the remainder of this season and into next season. This team is a FAR cry from the Crxxm teams of the past-displaying heart, effort, pride, and a minsdet that expects to win. Major improvements have been made on offense, especially when you consider the fact that the past 5 years (consecutively), State’s offense has finished 107th or worse in the country. This team is averaging 355 yds and 28 ppg. On defense, some complaints can be made, but with 3 conference games under their belts, State is ranked 31st in total defense-still better than any of the finishes by our defenses that we’ve praised so highly in years past. This Bulldog team has to make some adjustments on both sides of the ball, but at the same time, they continue to improve in various aspects. But, I can tell you, that this team will come out Saturday, with a MAJOR chip on their shoulder. They know that they were one block, one tipped ball, or one tackle away from accomplishing so much. But, you can’t say enough about the fight that is in this team- responding the way they did after 4 first half turnovers (3 on the first play of a possession). I expect the Dawgs to right some wrongs in the coming weeks, thanks to this game serving as the turning point and foundation, for what could still be a great first year for Dan Mullen. There’s a huge difference in losing the way State did at Auburn, as compared to losing like the Dawgs did Saturday. There are more lessons, more regrets, magnified mistakes, and a greater sense of personal responsibility-when it comes down to a game decided by inches. But, with learning has to come application, and I think we will see it from this team.