MSU Falls To #1 Gators, Instant Replay, & Tough Opponents

Brett HollowayContributor IOctober 26, 2009

MSU lost its 4th home game in a row on Saturday night, to the #1 ranked Florida Gators. With 57,178 on hand, the largest and quite possibly-lowdest crowd in MSU history, witnessed the Dawgs come up 10 points short to the best team in the land. MSU entered the game as 22 and a half point underdogs, but held the attention of the nation’s college football fanbase-for 3 and a half quarters. To me personally, this one wasn’t quite as hard a pill to swallow as the other losses this year. No one on the national level expected State to win, and to me, it was enough to have the Gator fans on hand and at home, on the edge of their seats. To sum this one up, this game could be described as: below average performances by the offenses, and some great defense by both teams. UF came in averaging 470 ypg, but was held to 376. MSU, who averages 390 ypg, was held to only 237. Relying heavily on the running game for most of 2009 (or as always), State was held to only 92 yards rushing, which is 127 below their average. As far as the stout defenses, well the Gators were exactly who we thought they were, which was the #2ranked defense in the country. MSU wasn’t so bad themselves versus the #6 offense in the country, keeping the Gators out of the endzone on 4 of 5 trips into the redzone, and only allowing only 2 of 13 possible conversions on 3rd downs. But, even with that effort and 2 defensive TD’s provided by Johnthan Banks, would not prove to be enough to earn State a victory. In all honesty, with the exception of the second Bulldog possession, one Tyson Lee pass to Ducre’, and the series that was dominated by Relf’s appearence, the offense was simply dead, and out of rhythm. To Lee’s credit, he did not have much time to throw the ball for the majority of the night, but, when he did have time:  (1) numerous passes were badly thrown, especially in situations were simply putting the ball in front of a reciever could have easily resulted in a first down or big gain; (2) the staring down of a reciever cost us two tipped ball interceptions, one went back for 6. (3) He just simply made some poor decisions, the worst being the deep ball INT thrown DIRECTLY to Major Wright, who awaited the ball like a punt. That’s the kind of a throw you make on a desperation 4th down play-at the end of a game, but not on 1st and 10, when your team is driving and needs it most. Once again, he has a ton of character, a heart of a lion, but in all honesty is a refreshing reminder of what we will not have as a QB for years to come. Urban Meyer mentioned last week, that our QB’s have had the most success, when our signal callers make plays with their feet, both in running and in the passing game. UF’s D, allowed ZERO escapes and scrambles on the night, and opened holes and buying time, were at a premium for the Dawg O-Line. One other pivotal point in the game was a failed fake punt attempt by MSU, deep in their own territory, admist a 3 point game, with 12 minutes left. Fans and Mulllen himself, can question whether the call was the right one or not, but I completely agreed with it. The fact is for years State fans have complained about Anthony Dixon being a dancer, but have to face the fact that we have recruited a ‘true’ one in Robert Elliot. It appeared that if Elliot had kept the angle he was taking toward the marker, he could have plowed forward for the first down. But, Elliot tried to make more of what opportunity was actually there, and slipped and fell yards short. All in all, the Dawgs found ways to keep themselves in the game, even after becoming their own worst enemy (yet again), and even in facing some questionable officiating (mainly one call). But, that’s one of the marks of a team that is improving, that gives relentless effort, and leaves it all out on the field. And compared to years passed, I’ll take that any day.

Keys to the Loss: (1) The bad play call, but mainly Relf’s poor decision on 3rd and 4, that resulted in a huge loss of yardage. Seems Relf and Lee always take a sack when we can’t afford one. (2) Elliot’s poor run. (3) The bad call on the pick 6. (4) Lee’s deep ball INT-what the heck!?! (5) Last but not least, the false starts. How, in a  ‘check’  style offense, where you check to the sideline to determine whether the original play call is good to go, or needs to be changed- do you have people jumping off sides BEFORE either has been determined?

Is there a growing trend here? 
Two consecutive ‘decent’ showings by the defense, and two poor showings by the offense, might have us wondering if the defense is beginning to win back the ‘hearts’ of the fans, and quite possibly their reputation. Called out since the Auburn game, the defense has suffered more than the attacks of opposing offenses, but from the Maroon Nation as well (me included). The Dawg D has forced 8 turnovers in the last 3 games, and while allowing opposing teams to move the ball at times, tightening things up the red zone has become one of the Dawgs’ strengths. To me, the X factors are 2 players, Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield. Just think about our chances if they would have been playin almost every snap versus LSU and GT, and in Broomfield’s case-Houston.

Instant Replay Please? or Lack Thereof?
In three of those four home losses that the Dawgs have suffered this year, officiating has cost State some very valuable points. First, there were two questionable plays on the goal line versus LSU (Sept. 26), where Anthony Dixon and Tyson Lee, appeared to have possibly broken the endzone’s plane, but, officials did not even take the time to review either of the plays. Secondly, in the Houston game, a 4th down pass by Tyson Lee that put the Dawgs on UH’s 3 yard line-for a first down, was called back due to the officials ruling that Lee crossed the line of scrimmage before releasing the ball. Once again, not even reviewed, and from the replay we know for certain, the pass was legal. Lastly, the TD that sealed the game Saturday night for the Gators, was a pick 6 returned by Devin Doe, who while celebrating across the goal line, was stripped of the ball by Brandon McCrae, who also recovered the ball in the end zone. Replays clearly show that Doe had not crossed the goal line before the ball came loose. So, after weeks of being screwed by bad calls and lack of camera angles, I have a solution to instant replay! Simply give the officials access to every camera angle made available by the broadcast. Also, show the officials what the announcers are seeing, but MUTE what the announcers are saying, in order to remove any bias or influence. I HATE it when the announcers say, “they are seeing exactly what we are”, because apparently they are not. Mullen did happen to go after the officials, and more than likely will here from the SEC for his actions.


Tough Losses, Tough Opponents
The 4 home losses for State, have been against 4 of the top 18 teams in the country.
Anyway, someone mentioned it, and I was thinking the EXACT same thing, we have to be the best 3-5 team in the country…agree? Think of the teams that we have taken to the wire…