Mississippi State has won its opening two games for the first time since 2019, but the Bulldogs are looking for repeat performances like last Saturday’s going forward.
In a border game this Saturday, they will travel three hours to Tennessee to face the Memphis Tigers in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
A slight home underdog last week against North Carolina State, head coach Mike Leach’s squad led throughout and handled the Wolfpack 24-10.
After a poor showing in a season-opening 35-34 win against Louisiana Tech, sophomore tailback Dillon Johnson rebounded by leading the Bulldogs (2-0) in rushing and receiving.
Johnson credited Saturday’s turnaround to a visit to church after he fell into a “dark moment for a second.”
“I have rough games; everybody has rough games,” Johnson told the Clarion-Ledger. “But it’s all just a confidence thing, bro.”
Leach said the 6-foot, 215-pound running back is underappreciated.
“I find Dillon to be a little bit more of a surprise to others that aren’t watching the film and the practices every day because he’s really been doing some great things since the start of camp,” Leach said.
Second-year head coach Ryan Silverfield has seen his Tigers (2-0) benefit from some outstanding play from true freshman quarterback Seth Henigan and an explosive offense in wins over Nicholls and Arkansas State.
In replacing Memphis standout signal-caller Brady White, the 18-year-old Henigan etched his name in the school’s record book by going 22-for-33 for 417 yards and five touchdowns — the eighth-highest single-game yardage total in Tigers history.
The Denton, Tex., native won the job after junior Grant Gunnell went down with a lower-body injury, and Henigan has been exceptional in guiding an offense that is averaging 48.5 points and leads the nation in total offense — 634.5 yards per game.
Henigan is responsible for much of it, completing 41 of 65 passes for 682 yards — the ninth-most in FBS.
“Everyone on the team has some experience,” Henigan said about his poise after the 55-50 win at Arkansas State. “Just to know that those guys have my back puts confidence in me that I can play to the level I’m supposed to and expected to.”