Five Keys to Beating Mississippi State – From the Bird’s Nest
The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns have a tough one to open the season as they travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take on Mississippi State. The Bulldogs thrashed the Cajuns 56-10 in Starkville last year. Cajuns are 19.5 point underdogs. If they're going to pull the upset, here are some things to look for.
RUN THE #$%& BALL: The Cajuns could only manage 65 net yards on the ground against a very stingy Mississippi State defense a year ago. Many of those players are now in the NFL. Louisiana has to have success on the ground to have any kind of chance in this one.
MAKE GAME CHANGING PLAYS: You don't beat a team like Mississippi State without making plays that are game changers. A pick six, a turnover in the red zone, a big kick return....things that make life easier for the offense. You have a lot better chance to score if you have good field position. And, obviously, you have to take advantage of field position when you get it.
THIRD DOWN IS KEY: It was as telling a stat as there was a year ago. The Cajuns did not convert a third down in the first half and were just 4-13 for the game. The Cajun defense got Mississippi State to eleven third down situations, but the Bulldogs converted eight of them. Obviously that has to change.
MAKE STEVENS UNCOMFORTABLE: Tommy Stevens is the new MSU quarterback. The Cajuns have to get plenty of pressure when in passing situations. Manac, Hill, Moncrief, Dillon et al have to force mistakes by the quarterback.
MAKE GOOD DECISIONS: Billy Napier has been impressed with how much quarterback Levi Lewis has improved with his decision making. That has to carry over into real time on Saturday. The Cajuns can't afford to turn the ball over. Lewis has to make the right reads consistently.