Everyone seems to be pretty confident in Starkville right now. It must happen when your team expands its stadium, wins their bowl game by 37 (losing me money in the process) and beats Ole Miss in The Egg Bowl. Anyway, Dan Mullen’s chest was very puffed when he walked into SEC Media Days. We’re glad he didn’t come in wearing a visor. Only Steve Spurrier looks cool in one of those.

LAST SEASON

Is the fact that people are referring to Mississippi State as some sort of SEC dark horse because the Bulldogs beat their biggest rival? Or because they finish the season on a three-game winning streak? Or only lost to Alabama by 13, and Auburn by 4? Or because their QB, Dak Prescott, has been touted as ‘dark horse’ Heisman Trophy by media critics?

OFF-SEASON

After defensive lineman Jordan Washington was booked for suspected residential burglary, things looked pretty quiet…right until the home of current CBs coach Deshea Townsend in Pittsburgh was busted into and cops found 1,500 bricks of heroin. Townsend was IN NO WAY involved, but it’s still a great story and we can only pray that an inventive student section (we’re looking at you, LSU!) makes up something funny when the match-up happens. It’s fair to say Townsend must be pretty pissed right now.

RECRUITING

Although the Bulldogs ranked 12th in the SEC in 2014 in recruiting, they still managed some strong in-state recruiting. ATHs Jamoral Graham and Gerri Green, RB Aeris Williams, WR Jesse Jackson and DE Will Coleman are all in the Top-10 in their position in their respective states (all but Coleman are from MS (He’s from TX).

LOOKING AT THE 2014 MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS

QB: WILL DAK PRESCOTT LIVE UP TO THE HYPE?

After a season where he finished with 1,940 yards, 10 TDs and 7 INTs (passing) and 829 yds and 13 TDs (rushing), Prescott got himself on the Davey O’Brien watch-list. He led MSU to an Egg Bowl win after coming on in the 4th quarter and -despite injury- beat the hated Rebels almost single-handedly. People love him as a leader. Some people will talk about him as a potential future Tim Tebow. Us? We just hope he gets his passing in order. Otherwise, he’ll just be the QB of another medicore team. Brian Johnson’s been hired as the new QBs coach. We’ll see how good he is with Dak. Whatever happens, Dak’s gonna give the offense some cowbell.

APART FROM PRESCOTT, WHAT ABOUT MSU’S RUSHERS?

Prescott is going to frighten defenses with his legs. We know that. We think he’ll do the same thing in 2013 as he did in 2014, even with Dan Mullen taking over the new offensive co-ordinator’s role as his own with old OC Les Koenning going south to Texas. A lot may be on Josh Robinson‘s shoulders to provide running support, because RB LaDarius Perkins has graduated. Ashton Shumpert and Nick Griffin will provide solid back-ups, but some experts believe that by season’s-end, Shumpert could well be the starter.

AND AT WIDE RECEIVER,  THE DAWGS ARE DEEP

Actually, they are. Jameon Lewis, Robert Johnson and De’Runnya Wilson all come back, and freshman Jesse Jackson could be the team’s fourth WR. It’s not exactly spectacular – they ranked 54th/ 8th (SEC) last year – but it’s OK. We’ll expect a lot from Lewis who was 6th in the SEC in yards per game (923 ypg, avg. 71). A lot of people like Fred Ross, too…and some say he could fill Chad Bumphis’ shoes.

AND NOW, FOR THE DEFENSE….

Mississippi State’s returning eight starters, led by LB Benardrick McKinney and 300lb D-Lineman Chris Jones and P.J. Jones. Preston Smith will return at DE, while McKinney’s experience and ability at LB lessen the pressure on Matthews Wells and Beniquez Brown to perform. Expect frosh LB Gerri Green to make waves if he impresses at Fall Camp.

We love MSU’s secondary, too. Taveze Calhoun, Will Redmond and Jamerson Love are quality CBs (they had 14 INTs in the SEC season (5th in the league (25 Nationally, ranking 35th) .  Justin Cox will revert to safety to help Kendrick Market.

The ‘D’ is also going to be helped by the fact that MSU is playing 6 home games (and a game at South Alabama), where the fanbase can ring their cowbells very, very loudly and put off opposition offenses.

SCHEDULE: EAST EASY, WEST NASTY

Aug. 30 Southern Miss
Sep. 6 UAB
Sep. 13 at South Alabama
Sep. 20 at LSU
Oct. 4 Texas A&M
Oct. 11 Auburn
Oct. 25 at Kentucky
Nov. 1 Arkansas
Nov. 8 UT-Martin
Nov. 15 at Alabama
Nov. 22 Vanderbilt
Nov. 29 at Ole Miss

OK, so Mississippi State goes 3-0 with an easy schedule early on. They then lose on the road to LSU in a war, before beating Texas A&M at home and losing to Auburn at home. They then win three more straight by winning at Kentucky and at home to Arkansas and at home to mighty UT-Martin (Gosh MSU’s non-conference schedule is disgustingly awful), before losing at Alabama, and beating Vanderbilt at home. We think they’ll lose at Ole Miss too, in a war, finishing the season a bowl-eligible and improved-from-last-year 8-4 (4-4 SEC).

 

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