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Moving on to Alabama: Three Areas in Which Mississippi State Can Improve

After an impressive performance against Texas A&M, there are a few areas the Bulldogs can fine-tune to take the next step.

Mississippi State grabbed a statement win this past weekend as it topped Texas A&M, 26-22. 

Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach seemed pleased with his team's overall performance, calling it an "improvement" and noting the progress the Bulldogs have made but also they're "not there yet."

After all, football is not a game of perfection, and there is always at least some level of fine-tuning to be done after any outcome of an individual game. Here's a look into three things that are sure to elevate MSU’s play and give the Bulldogs a chance against the buzzsaw of the Crimson Tide, who they'll face in Davis Wade Stadium after the open date.

1. Clean up the offensive line: This seems to be a recurring theme, despite the low sack numbers. This is not to say that the front five aren’t blocking well, but there are still too many penalties. MSU left six points at the foot of redshirt freshman Nolan McCord, pushing him back from a manageable kick to a 49-yard attempt in one instance solely due to penalties. If that kick goes through the uprights, it’s a completely different ball game in the fourth quarter.

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2. More Aggression: Yes, sophomore quarterback Will Rogers played a good football game, possibly his best ever in the Maroon and White, but there were still plenty of big plays and points left on the board. It was far less than in previous games, but points nonetheless. The play calling is working. Receivers are getting open downfield. Rogers just has to make the throws. He's shown that he has the arm talent, he just has to pull the trigger. If MSU hopes to have a chance against Alabama in two weeks, he's going to have to make some big-time throws to keep things competitive.

3. Tulu needs space: Just a few weeks ago, Leach made it clear that he plans to get Lideatrick "Tulu" Griffin more involved in the offense, and to this point, he has. Griffin had his best game of the season, receiving wise at least, against the Aggies this past weekend, totaling three receptions for 52 yards. This is a good sign, but hardly anyone will argue with the fact that Bulldogs fans would like to see even more touches for the sophomore playmaker. It has become obvious that no one in the country is going to kick the ball to him, so he needs to be able to get his legs going and make plays in open space.

There are no concrete “keys to victory” in a single football game, as no two are the same, but if MSU can manage to clean up these three things, it could make the upcoming game against Alabama interesting -- to say the least. 

That game kicks off at 6 p.m. CT on Oct. 16 and will air on ESPN.