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Mississippi State Starts the Moorhead Era In Style With a 63-6 Win Over Stephen F. Austin

Joe Moorhead arrived in Starkville with the promise of yards, points, and wins following him.  He delivered on all three in his debut, as Mississippi State racked up 618 yards in a 63-6 win over Stephen F. Austin Saturday night at Davis Wade Stadium.  By the time his Bulldogs had finished, Moorhead’s team had scored the most points in a season opener since a 1950 67-0 win over Arkansas State.  The 63 points also represented the most points ever scored by the Bulldogs in a debut for a head coach.  Let’s take a look at how the Bulldogs rolled offensively in this game.


It was over early in this one, as Keytaon Thompson swung a quick pass out to Kylin Hill, who blew past the line of scrimmage and into the open field for a 53 yard touchdown on Mississippi State’s first offensive play. It was Hill who drew the start over senior Aeris Williams, and he repaid Moorhead’s decision to go with him with 103 all purpose yards and two touchdowns. It seems as though Hill will play a larger role than many expected for the Bulldogs this season if he can continue this kind of production. One other note, great blocking by the Bulldog receivers at the point of attack to allow Hill to accelerate into the second level like that.


Keytaon Thompson’s number speak for themselves, nearly 500 total yards and seven touchdowns, five through the air. The seven touchdowns, that ties an SEC record with 12 other players, including fellow Bulldog quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald. Obviously the positives are exciting, but there has to be some concern about the inconsistency Thompson showed overall, completing only 13 of 31 passes total. The talent is obvious, but so is the fact Thompson is not ready to take over this team yet. With Nick Fitzgerald returning from suspension next week, many Bulldog fans wondered if Thompson would put up the kind of numbers to force a controversy. That didn’t happen, and it will be on Fitzgerald to make the throws that Thompson missed on Saturday night.


Mississippi State would get that number up to 17 tackles for loss, a truly staggering number. To try and put that in perspective, a season ago, the Bulldogs had 36 tackles for loss across 13 games. The defensive line looked every bit the part on Saturday night, making it impossible for Stephen F. Austin to run and applying constant pressure to the Lumberjack quarterbacks. Jeffery Simmons led the way with 3.5 TFL, and Montez Sweat added 3.5 more of his own, with two sacks from the reigning SEC leader. Simply put, it will be difficult for any team to grind out a successful running game against this group. On the other hand, the Bulldog secondary looked shaky at times on Saturday, giving up 177 yards in the air. The defensive backfield looked disorganized, and those busts allowed Stephen F. Austin to take advantage and move the ball successfully at times. Mississippi State will need to shore that area up, or find a way to ramp up the pressure from its front four to force more errant throws. Either way, it was the lone area of concern on an otherwise brilliant night for the maroon and white.


Mississippi State’s week two opponent nearly got their season off to the worst possible start, as Kansas State had to put together a fourth quarter rally then survive a missed field goal as time expired to hold off FCS opponent South Dakota. The Wildcats allowed 257 yards passing, the kind of number that will not inspire confidence in improvement from last year’s group which finished second to last nationally in pass defense. Offensively, it took a spark from Isaiah Zuber, who scored both fourth quarter touchdowns to put the Wildcats on top for good. If you’re Mississippi State, you have to be hopeful that a more consistent performance from your quarterback will lead to big numbers in the passing game next week, while defensively, it appears if you can limit the Wildcat running game, Bill Snyder’s squad will have difficulty making plays at quarterback to beat you.

We’ll talk a lot more about Saturday night’s win and the week to come for Mississippi State this week on Sports Talk Mississippi and on the Thunder & Lightning Podcast. Remember to follow Sports Talk Mississippi on Twitter at @SportsTalkMiss and like our Facebook page at

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