College Football Preview: The 2014 Mississippi State Bulldogs
2014 College Football Preview
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Overview: The Mississippi State Bulldogs had another mediocre season last year with a 7-6 record and a bowl victory. It was the fourth straight bowl appearance under head coach Dan Mullen, but Mississippi State fans would tell you that they expect more. Ole Miss is starting to steal some of the Bulldogs’ shine and Mississippi State expects a lot more than what they’ve been getting lately. After all, the Bulldogs haven’t won double-digit games since 1999. This season will tell a lot about the direction Mississippi State is heading as a football program.
Offense: Mississippi State has one of the most underrated quarterbacks in college football in Dak Prescott. As I mentioned earlier, Prescott has the potential to receive some Heisman consideration and it won’t take long before he becomes a household name. Prescott has dual-threat ability and can take over a game at any moment with his superb skill set. Besides Prescott, Josh Robinson will get the bulk of the carries at running back after averaging close to six yards per carry last season. Wide receiver Jameon Lewis nearly hauled in 1,000 receiving yards last year as well. Needless to say, Mississippi State has a lot of weapons on the offensive side and should be able to put plenty of points on the board, which is something we haven’t exactly seen in the past.
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Defense: The Bulldogs return leading tackler Benardrick McKinney and a deep group of defensive linemen that saw plenty of playing time a year ago. With majority of the defensive front returning for Mississippi State, a unit that ranked fourth in the SEC in rush defense, this unit has the potential to carry the team throughout the season. The Bulldogs just need to get more aggressive in rushing the passer, an area that Chris Davis, Richie Brown and A.J. Jefferson can help out at. The secondary isn’t an issue for the Bulldogs, as Taveze Calhoun, Jamerson Love and Will Redmond are all more than capable of shutting down receivers and making a play on the football. After all, Love and Calhoun combined for six interceptions last season. Mississippi State has the players in place to be solid defensively.
Special Teams: Last season’s special teams was a train wreck for Mississippi State, as it was one of the few teams that couldn’t make more than 50 percent of its field goals. I guess the good news is that punter Devon Bell and kicker Evan Sobiesk are back for another year to give it a go. Experience may or may not improve in this area.
Outlook: You have to expect Mississippi State to be what it has been over the last two decades: a mediocre team that loses ugly games but surprises you at times as well. The Bulldogs have shown nothing more than that for the last 15-20 years. However, if Prescott can fulfill expectations and play to his potential, this team can be a lot better than expected. Keep an eye on his improvement as he’ll be the engine that makes this Mississippi State train go.