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STAT WATCH: Mississippi State

Perusing the stats to take a deeper look at the Bulldogs

South Carolina v Mississippi State Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Last week we took a look at Jacksonville State, using your more traditional stats such as Points Per Game, Total Offense, Yards Per play, etc. We’ll still be taking a look at those this week, but since Mississippi State is an FBS team and we have the advanced and #fancy stats readily available (all hail Bill C and Football Study Hall and Football Outsiders for without him and that site none of this would be possible) we’ll also be looking at how the Bulldogs fared in those to take a deeper look at them ahead of this weekend’s game. First, since it’s still early in the season, how Mississippi State did last season.

(If you need a refresher on S&P+ ratings and the like and how they work, here you are:

Last Season (Advanced Stats)

A note on these stats: The offensive and defensive S&P+ marks are calculated as adjusted scoring averages and for the situational ratings, above 100 is good and below 100 is bad.

  • S&P+ (Percentile): 87.1% (16th in FBS)
  • Offensive S&P+: 39.2 (16th in FBS)
  • Offense Rushing S&P+ : 112.0 (27th in FBS)
  • Offense Passing S&P+: 125.8 (13th in FBS)
  • Defensive S&P+: 24.0 (37th in FBS)
  • Defensive Rushing S&P+: 102.4 (60th in FBS)
  • Defensive Passing S&P+: 106.1 (44th in FBS)

The Bulldogs were a really, really good offense last year. They also had one of the best quarterbacks the SEC has ever seen. He’s now gone. The running game, which was pretty good did bring back it’s 2nd and 3rd rushers in Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert, but Dak Prescott was the leading rusher too. So as good as MSU was on offense last year, it doesn’t tell us as much about them this year as it would if most of the starters were back. Dak’s gone, so is De’Runnya Wilson. But Fred Ross, who had the most receiving yards for them last season, has returned. It’s a mixed bag. The defense was okay overall, but struggled with the run and less so with the pass. Seven of their top ten tacklers returned, but they did lose their lone difference maker in the middle in Chris Jones. So the LSU running game could have a big day this weekend.

This Season (Advanced Stats)

Another note: So far, the S&P+ ratings are based quite a bit on what the projections were coming into the season. I’ll also be using F/+, which combines Bill C’s S&P+ and Brian Fremeau’s FEI. Read more about that here:

  • S&P+ (Percentile): 86% (20th in FBS)
  • Offensive S&P+: 38.0 (30th in FBS)
  • Defensive S&P+: 25.6 (40th in FBS)
  • FEI: .080 (34th in FBS)
  • F/+: 24.6% (24th in FBS)
  • Offensive Success Rate: 43.9% (61st in FBS, national average is 40.2%)
  • Defensive Success Rate: 35.4% (42nd in FBS, national average is 40.2%)

The performance and win over South Carolina helped boost some of these stats up for the Bulldogs after a horrible opener against South Alabama. The offense has been mildly successful and despite the losses will still probably require LSU’s defense to bring something at least close to their A game. Nick Fitzgerald has established himself as the starter at QB for MSU. The defense is operating below the national average in success rate and is just inside the top third of defenses in S&P+. If there’s a game for Danny Etling to take a step forward in and avoid disaster like Brandon Harris suffered when he stepped in vs Auburn two years ago, it’s a game like this. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. This is still a tough test, even if the Bulldogs aren’t quite the same team they were the last two years.