Last night’s Mississippi State – Memphis game only drew attention because it was the opening night of the season. The Bulldogs beat down a horrible Memphis team, 59-14.
Year2 has a good breakdown of last night’s game and provides some insight into a slightly different offensive philosophy for the Dogs:
In most respects, the 2011 game was better for the Bulldogs than the 2010 game was. However, parsing details from massive blowouts rarely yields much insight.
One thing that jumps out more than anything else is plays and time of possession. Mississippi State debuted an uptempo offense, and last night’s sideline reporter mentioned that Dan Mullen went to Oregon to learn about fast offense from Chip Kelly this offseason. MSU ran 66 plays in 31:16 in 2010, but it ran 69 plays in just 22:40 last night. Memphis managed just 53 plays in 28:44 last year, but it ran 87 plays in 37:20 this time around.
The “it’s just Memphis” caveat applies in spades, but that could be the one takeaway that actually means something. If Mississippi State keeps up with this faster offense, it could rack up impressive amounts of points and yards. It also could hang its defense out to dry with all of the extra plays, especially wearing it down on days when the offense isn’t working quite so well.
Mississippi State’s uptempo offense is your first SEC story line to watch in 2011. You know, besides how big a train wreck Kentucky ends up being.
This isn’t the first time we seen teams go up tempo or warp speed. Oklahoma, Oregon, Auburn are among many teams now employing this strategy.
I see the up-tempo as a counter move to a Nick Saban-type defense. A Saban defense wants to control the line of scrimmage, force opposing teams into second and long and third and long situations and then bring an exotic pass rush mixture of linebackers and defensive backs. A Saban-type defense also uses multiple players to execute these exotic strategies. Going warp speed on offense limits the defense’s ability to mix and match players.
It will be interesting to see how successful State is with this strategy and if it will last all season. They’ll get a chance over the next two weeks – against Auburn and LSU – to test this hurry-up offense against some real programs and we’ll get to see if State is for real this season, too.