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Bulldogs looking to even score with Troy

By By Danny P. Smith / special to The Star
Oct. 12, 2002
STARKVILLE Last season's game against Troy State was not a pleasant experience for Mississippi State fullback Justin Griffith.
Not only did the Bulldogs lose the game 21-9 on a dreary homecoming day in Starkville, but Griffith also suffered a season-ending neck injury.
Mississippi State's leading rusher this season wants to do something to change the bad memory of last year.
The Bulldogs and Trojans will get together again on the homecoming stage Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Mississippi State hopes to perform much better in order to improve on a 1-4 overall record.
Griffith believes a win Saturday can set the tone for the rest of the season.
Griffith has been the most consistent running back for the Bulldogs so far this season with 168 yards on 33 carries for an average of 5.1 yards per carry. His total yardage is 67 yards more than tailback Dontae Walker.
Troy State has a 2-4 record this year and were 1-3 at the time of its visit to Starkville last season.
The score of last year's game has been posted on the door outside the team meeting room in the Shira Complex, but Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill said the players who played in that game shouldn't need a sign to remember how losing felt.
Troy State coach Larry Blakeney doesn't expect the Bulldogs to forget what happened.
Blakeney said the intensity with which his team played against Mississippi State last season has not been matched since, but he hopes it will return in time for this game.
The thing that concerns Blakeney more than anything else about preparing for the Bulldogs is to have to deal with the style of defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn.
So far this season, the problems have been with the MSU defense as the unit ranks ninth in the Southeastern Conference in total defense by giving up 345 yards per game and last in the league in rushing defense by surrendering 203.6 yards per game.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the SEC to have given up over 1,000 yards rushing already this season. Opponents have rushed for 1,018 yards against MSU.