2008 Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Preview
Mississippi State 2007 Record: (8-5, 4-4)
2007 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs. UCF (W 10-3)
Mississippi State Coach: Sylvester Croom (17-30 at Mississippi State, 17-30 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Woddy McCorvey
Defensive Coordinator: Charlie Harbison
Returning Leaders for Mississippi State:
Other Key Returnees: DT Jessie Bowman, OT Mike Brown, LB Dominic Douglas, G Michael Gates, S De’Mon Glanton, FB Eric Hoskins, CB Anthony Johnson, DT Kyle Love, CB Jasper O’Quinn, G Anthony Strauder
Key Losses: C Royce Blackledge, DE Titus Brown, WR Tony Burks, OT J.D. Hamilton, DE Avery Hannibal, QB Michael Henig, LB Gabe O’Neal, TE Dezmond Sherrod
Somehow Mississippi State managed to go 8-5 last year despite having a pretty horrible offense that ranked 113 th in the nation and only garnered 300 yards per game. Even when the offense looked good, it was usually because the defense had just made a big play and given them great field position. The defense will be just as good, but will the offense improve enough? So far the outlook is not good. It took overtime during the spring game for either side to put points on the board.
Mississippi State's Strengths:
Obviously that means the defense was good last year and will be again this year. The pass defense was one of the best in the nation and returns all four starters. Corners Jasper O’Quinn, Anthony Johnson and Marcus Washington and strong safeties Keith Fitzhugh and De’Mon Glanton have plenty of experience, but it is free safety Derek Pegues who makes this a great group. Not only did he lead the team with five interceptions, but Pegues is also a dangerous kickoff and punt returner. Linebackers Jamar Chaney and Dominic Douglas led the team in tackles and the senior duo will be a steadying force in the middle of the defense. It is the line that could have a few problems. Titus Brown, and to a lesser extent Avery Hannibal, were the only players who were threats to get to the quarterback. Jessie Bowman and Kyle Love are back to clog the middle, but somebody needs to get into the backfield from the end.
Mississippi State's Weaknesses:
The offense does not have to do much, but at the least avoiding turnovers would be nice. Quarterback Michael Henig has not been able to stay healthy and threw nine interceptions, compared to just one touchdown, during his limited playing time in 2007. Now Henig is off the team due to continual injuries and that leaves little depth behind probable starter Wesley Carroll. Carroll did an admirable job last year as a freshman and actually had a positive touchdown to interception ratio, but he is not going to put up big numbers. And that will be fine as long as the running game can at least keep the defense off the field for a little while. Anthony Dixon was the best offensive threat last year and rushed for over 1,000 yards and reached the endzone 14 times.
The Bottom Line for the Bulldogs:
On paper the defense should be just as good as last year and the offense should be a little bit better with a couple decent linemen returning and a year of experience for the quarterback. But if Carroll is going to have any success, the team needs to find another receiver besides Jamayel Smith. Coach Sylvester Croom has started to turn the program, but after solidifying the defense, it is time for the offense to start building for the future.
2007 Mississippi State Bulldogs Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 137.23 (76th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 159.92 (113, 12)
Total Offense: 297.15 (113, 12)
Scoring Offense: 21.46 (96, 11)
Rushing Defense: 156.85 (58, 7)
Pass Defense: 174.92 (7, 3)
Total Defense: 331.77 (21, 5)
Scoring Defense: 23.15 (35, 6)
Turnover Margin: .00 (55, 7)
Sacks: 1.46 (100, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 1.62 (40, 6)
By Joel Welser
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