If it looked like Mississippi State's defense knew exactly what was coming in Saturday's stifling 28-10 win over Auburn, that might be because it did: Per the The Dispatch in Columbus, Miss., senior MSU defenders Corey Broomfield and Cam Lawrence said this week they had successfully figured out Auburn's offensive signals before the game, apparently based on film of the Tigers' season-opening loss to Clemson.
"We do a great job of preparing and we knew what the play was before they ever ran them," Broomfield said. "That's not a joke. We knew what they were doing, where the ball was going and who was getting it before the ball was snapped."
Anyone who watched the game or looked at the stat sheet might have guessed as much. Auburn sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier, winner of the preseason competition for the job, looked overwhelmed in his first road start, committing five turnovers –- three interceptions, two fumbles. He finished the first half with a negative pass efficiency rating and had just 18 yards passing through the first three quarters. The Auburn offense as a whole managed just 216 total yards and failed to find the end zone. (The team's only touchdown came on a third-quarter kickoff return by Onterio McCalebb.) The Tigers also failed to score an offensive touchdown in their previous SEC outing, a 42-14 loss to Alabama in November.
But unlike the Crimson Tide in 2011, Mississippi State is not stocked to the gills with future NFL draft picks, does not boast the best statistical defense in the nation and, barring the most improbable run in the history of the sport, almost certainly is not on its way to winning a BCS championship.
"My teammates and I got into [Frazier's] head and that's one thing I'm going to do every game if you're on offense against me," said Lawrence, who turned in a team-high 10 tackles Saturday with one sack. "He would call out the signals and I'd tell everybody what the play was and he'd get that confused look in his face."
And the MSU coaches? Totally down with it. Co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Geoff Collins: "It makes our job as coaches so much easier when Cam Lawrence is signaling over his head every time they were calling a pass."
For his part, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has doubled down on Frazier as his starting quarterback and told reporters Wednesday that any issues with signals would be fixed by Saturday's date with Louisiana-Monroe, fresh off its stunning, overtime upset at Arkansas.