Here are a few notes and quotes for the Falcons as they continue preparations for Saturday's game against Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss. Kickoff is at 7:38 p.m. local time ...
- The Falcons seem to be relatively healthy entering Saturday’s contest. Senior defensive tackle Ted Ouellet, who has missed the past two games after suffering a leg injury on the first defensive play from scrimmage against Murray State, is probable for the game. Ouellet was on the practice field this week, as was junior defensive end Charlie Walker, who is probable following a bruised heel, and sophomore wide receiver Ryan Burbrink, who missed the second half against UMass because of a knee bruise but is expected to be back against Mississippi State.
Junior linebacker Paul Senn, despite wearing a red “do not hit” jersey in practice, also is probable to face the Bulldogs. Only senior safety Josh Pettus, who is trying to return from a knee injury that has caused him to miss the last three games, is questionable for Mississippi State.
- Senior tight end Alex Bayer was asked how important it is for the Falcons to get off to a fast start at Mississippi State. "I think it's huge," he said. "You always want to get off to a fast start, but especially when you're playing someone from a BCS conference like Mississippi State. That's something we struggled with the last two games, and if you look at the whole season it has been that way except for the Kent State game.
- I thought BG coach Dave Clawson had an interesting comment about his team's level of performance in recent weeks. "This football team has to get better," he said. "For us to accomplish what we want to accomplish, in no way, shape or form do we feel we are playing at a level that we need to be playing at. There are a lot of things to work on. And this week we're going to be tested by playing an SEC team on the road."
- Clawson talked about some of the challenges of playing an SEC team like Mississippi State. "Some times the challenge is just in tackling them," he said. "They have players who are good in space. When you boil down what they do -- with their power-option, their power-read game and their zone-read game -- they are playing, to a degree, triple-option football. They have some built-in passes, too. If it's the give, you have to tackle [LaDarius] Perkins; [Dak] Prescott is an outstanding runner -- he was scrambling and making people miss against LSU and Auburn -- and they are able to isolate [Jameon] Lewis. There isn't a favorable match-up there.
"And the style of offense is challenging, too. They spread you out, they get in empty formations, they get in one-back sets, they motion people. Two things that [you see in the SEC]: Speed on the perimeter, and the defensive line. And their defensive line is really, really good. They have some guys on that line who will make a lot of money playing football on Sundays.
"I think our offensive line is going to be challenged. I think our perimeter players on defense will be challenged to tackle them. The challenge is across the board, but the two things that stand out are their perimeter speed and their defensive line."
- So how do the Falcons compete with Mississippi State? "This is one of those games where together we have to be better than the individual parts," Clawson said. "We will have to execute at a very high level on both sides of the ball. This is not a game where the defensive backs can take their eyes off their keys. This is a game where mistakes are costly; a mistake isn't a five-yard play, it's a 60-yard touchdown.
"If you keep things in front of you, are gap sound, and you tackle [on defense], while on offense you sustain drives and eat up clock, and when you get into the end zone you score touchdowns, you give yourself a chance to make it interesting in the second half and fourth quarter. You just have to stay in the game. ... You have to play at a very high level to give yourself a chance.
"From the get-go you have to be locked in and play at a really high level. Last year at Florida we did that: We moved the ball and converted third downs at a very high level. We tackled well on defense and got off the field. As a result, we gave ourselves a chance to beat a very good SEC team on the road."