Mississippi State Bulldogs 2009 NCAA Football Preview

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Mississippi State Bulldogs

Southeastern Conference


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


Returning Leaders

Rushing: Anthony Dixon, RB, 869 yards

Passing: Tyson Lee, QB, 1,519 yards

Receiving: Brandon McRae, WR, 518 yards

Tackles: K.J. Wright, LB, 72

Sacks: K.J. Wright, LB, 4.0

Interceptions: Karlin Brown, LB, 2


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.



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. Redshirt freshmen Terrance Davis, O’Neal Wilder and Charles Bailey will also be asked to contribute. 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.



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:

There are questions on both sides of the ball. Is the defense good enough to hold this team together once again? 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.


2008 Team Stats:

Rushing Offense: 100.58 (105th in nation, 11th in conference)

Passing Offense: 174.33 (94, 7)

Total Offense: 274.92 (113, 10)

Scoring Offense: 15.25 (115, 12)

Rushing Defense: 150.92 (73, 11)

Pass Defense: 176.58 (17, 4)

Total Defense: 327.50 (35, 10)

Scoring Defense: 24.67 (60, 11)

Turnover Margin: -.33 (81, 9)

Sacks: 1.58 (84, 12)

Sacks Allowed: 3.08 (114, 11)