Can’t say that I buy the overall premise of this post, but this is a good point to absorb as you ponder Mississippi State’s impressive defensive statistics:
So far this year, Mississippi State has allowed just 618 total yards, 206 yards per game and 3.34 yards per play. That’s good enough to rank the Bulldogs from Starkville as the nation’s fourth-best defense (as measured by yards per play).
Included in that tally, however, is one huge outlier. Against Louisiana Tech, Miss State’s opponent fumbled, kicked, and otherwise back-pedaled for a loss of 87 yards on a single play. That happened. A truly opportunistic Mississippi State would have recovered the fumble and scored a touchdown off of it. But instead, LA Tech found itself in a hilarious third-and-goal with 93 yards to go.
If you back that play out and say that LA Tech ran for a gain of 0, the Bulldogs look quite different defensively.
For instance, suddenly Louisiana Tech’s 315-yard output crosses the 400 mark. That’s right, Louisiana Tech racked up 315 yards against the vaunted Mississippi State defense, and that includes an 87-yard blooper of a loss. That ain’t a great stat for Miss State, folks. Further, removing that outlier pushes Mississippi State to 705 yards, 235 yards per game and 3.81 yards per play. That’s actually a meaningful distinction drops the Bulldogs to 10th in total defense. Against Charleston Southern (only 17 points scored all year), Louisiana Tech and a typically poor and still-adjusting LSU offense, that’s not terrifying in and of itself.
It’s still a pretty good job, just not as atmospheric. Further, one place where MSU’s defense clearly excels over Georgia’s is in garbage time. In three games, Mississippi State has given up a total of 128 yards (120 passing; only eight rushing) and one touchdown in the fourth quarter.