2009 Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Preview
2008 Record: (4-8, 2-6)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Dan Mullen (First year at Mississippi State, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Les Koenning
Defensive Coordinator: Carl Torbush
Other Key Returnees: RB Christian Ducre, CB Charles Mitchell, S Zach Smith, RB Arnil Stallworth, CB Marcus Washington
Key Losses: DE Tim Bailey, DT Jessie Bowman, LB Dominic Douglas, S Keith Fitzhugh, G Michael Gates, S De’Mon Glanton, DE Cortez McCraney, CB Jasper O’Quinn, S Derek Pegues, WR Jamayel Smith
Mississippi State won some games last year with their defense. In an effort to spark the offense, the Bulldogs hired Coach Dan Mullen after letting Sylvester Croom go. Mullen spent the last four years at Florida as the offensive coordinator. He will not have a Tim Tebow to work with, but he should be able to provide a wrinkle or two into an offense that is in dire need of a spark.
Mississippi State's Strengths:
But will the offense be this team’s strength? Can quarterback Tyson Lee run the offense effectively? Certainly he will not be as effective as Tebow, but if he can get things rolling, Mississippi State can score some points…that is providing the receivers can help him out. Brandon McRae, the team’s leading pass catcher a year ago, is back and junior college transfer Leon Berry will look to make the unit much more respectable. While Lee is working out the offense, running back Anthony Dixon will be the star of the team. Dixon rushed for 869 yards last year and he will have to be the workhorse for the offense.
Mississippi State's Weaknesses:
However, the offense will only work if the offensive line can get the job done. They gave up over three sacks per game last year and Lee needs more time than that. And the offense might have to hold some weight this year while the defense replaces a majority of their starters. The secondary, which only gave up 176.6 yards per game, has some major holes to replace with the departure of Keith Fitzhugh, De’Mon Glanton, Derek Pegues and Jasper O’Quinn. At least experienced players like Charles Mitchell, Zach Smith and Marcus Washington can step up. The linebackers have quite a bit more experience. K.J. Wright is ready to become a superstar and Karlin Brown is a versatile player who should step into a full time starting role.
The Bottom Line for the Bulldogs:
There are questions on both sides of the ball. Is the defense good enough again to hold this team together? Can the offense change in a single season and score more than a mere 15.3 points per game? It will take some time for Coach Mullen to get his players into the system and to improve the overall talent in Starkville. In the meantime, Mississippi State will stay towards the bottom of the SEC West standings.
By Joel Welser
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