Mississippi State Finds Its Way Back in 28-13 Victory Over Kentucky

Last week, Mississippi State looked like a ship without a rudder in a 31-24 loss to Kansas State. This week, with a new captain of the ship behind center, the Bulldogs controlled the game from start to finish against Kentucky, taking a 28-13 win home to begin SEC play. Garrett Shrader took advantage of his first career start with 305 yards of offense, and Kylin Hill scored three touchdowns en route to his 4th straight game over 100 yards. The Bulldog defense was rejuvenated as well, as the group of players who had been suspended were cleared to play in this game, including one who made his impact early.

THE PLAY

Willie Gay made his presence known on the first drive, stepping in front of a Sawyer Smith pass and taking it 52 yards to the house to give State an early 7-0 lead. Gay, Lee Autry, and Marcus Murphy were all available on Saturday for the first time this season, and their participation seemed to energize Bob Shoop’s unit. The Bulldogs would lose Gay in the second quarter, as a result of two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and the defense seemed to lose some juice afterwards. Kentucky was able to move the ball successfully, but the “bend but don’t break” philosophy paid off as the Bulldogs held the Wildcats out of the endzone save one possession.

THE PLAYER

Even as well as Shrader played in his first start, this Bulldog offense goes as Kylin Hill goes. Hill became the first Bulldog running back to register 4 straight 100 yard games since Anthony Dixon did so in 2009. Hill seeing an increase in chances was a huge talking point this offseason, and through 4 games, he’s got 91 carries. He only had 117 carries total in 2018, so Hill is getting the opportunities he didn’t have a season ago, and with it has come high level production.

FEAR THE BEARD

Garrett Shrader continues to impress, and even with two turnovers, its obvious the future is very bright for this young freshman. Shrader showed a lot of poise, continually making plays in the pocket under pressure, and then eventually setting up the final touchdown with two big runs late in the fourth quarter. Shrader is definitely the Bulldogs’ future, the question this week will be is he still the starter should Tommy Stevens be cleared for action next Saturday.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Auburn has put together an impressive opening to the season, and getting a win over Texas A&M in College Station will have the Tigers ready to go when Mississippi State arrives on The Plains next Saturday. State will have to shore up its rush defense against Boobie Whitlow and the Gus Malzahn offense, and it remains to be seen who will be behind center for the Bulldogs. A win over Auburn would right all the wrongs of the loss to Kansas State, and a defeat wouldn’t be overly damaging to bowl hopes. We’ll see how the Bulldogs look next weekend at Jordan-Hare.

Photo courtesy of Mississippi State athletics