Even with the struggles that we've faced thus far, Saturday was the first time that I sat dumbfounded and astonished, at what was taking place before my eyes. The Houston game was simply, a rollercoaster of emotions. State's offense once again moved the ball with ease-to the tune of 490 yds, and once again proved to be their own worst enemy. With 13 turnovers over the last 3 games, State commited 4 inside of Houston's 35 yard line, and only punted twice. If blame was to fall on one man's shoulders, they would have to somewhat rest on QB Tyson Lee's, who was involved in every one of Houston's takeaways. Two fumbles on read plays, were pretty much the product of indecisions during QB and RB exchanges, and Lee also added 2 INT's to the mix. One was thrown into triple coverage-with a wide open Anthony Dixon near the sideline-waititng for a pass that never came. And, the other was a mishandled pass by veteran WR Brandon McCrae, landing in the hands of the Cougar secondary. In all honesty, the officiating was herendous, and UH didn't see their first piece of 'yellow laundry' until they were up by 2 touchdowns. Even an unbiased spectator, could not doubt that the officials took away 14 points from MSU. One penalty, was an illegal forward pass on Lee, who after watching the replay-appeared to have had a great sense of where he was on the field, and made a throw-which put State at the Houston 3. If you know football, an illegal pass means 'loss of down', and since it was 4th and 9, State had to hand it over. The other flag was a 'phantom' holding call-probably on the smallest guy on the field (Stallworth), in which Dixon scampered for an electrifying 17 yd run. For the record, the replay showed that Stallworth did not even have time to lock up with the defender, and simply faced up with him, and took his legs out from under him, which is simply what a team like Georgia Tech does about 8 times on every play (Mullen commented in the same manner). But, as easy as it would be to blame the zebras, or convicts as Andy Griffith called them, State has to point the finger at themselves. 4 turnovers within the 'promise land's' zip code, outweighs poor officiating. Last but not least, one of the biggest disappointments for State this year, has to be the defense. Based off of the Dawgs' tradition and reputation, just about everyone agreed that the D would serve as the pulse and backbone of the team, as the offense learned to chew gum and walk at the same time. Earlier this year, it appeared as if Def. Coordinator Carl Torbush-did a decent job preparing for opposing team's strengths, but somehow fell suspect to their weaknesses instead. Also, there has been a complete inability to make the proper adjustments, force turnovers, or stop what 50,000 people in the stands KNOW is coming. Georgia Tech, quickly figured out that all they had to do was throw behind the line of scrimmage, and it was 15 yds every time. UH gashed the D on quick screen plays, a deeper form of the same, and the HB draw-none of which State had an answer for. This all leaves the fans to question, is it the players or coaches? Or both? To the D's credit, they did provide the Offense with 2 turnovers, and returned one for a TD. But, at the end of the day, Houston is still Houston, and when they wake up in the morning-they are still in Conference USA, and their highlight is the Liberty Bowl...but at the same time, MSU has to face the fact that they are 2-4, could easily be 5-1, and have done nothing to change their losing ways and earn respect from others around the nation. In a season in which many chances remain, the Bulldogs seemed to have spoiled their best ones. For now, the words to Bruce Springsteen's famous tune just keep echoing in my head, "same old story, same old act...takin' one step up, and two steps back." ]
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