#30 Mississippi State Football 2019 Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #30
#7 SEC
 Mississippi State Logo
Mississippi State had their moments in 2018 during Coach Joe Moorhead’s debut campaign leading the program. The Bulldogs beat some decent teams like Auburn and Texas A&M, but for the most part they crushed the bad teams on their schedule and were crushed by the good teams. In their four SEC losses, they scored a grand total of 16 points.
2018 Record: 8-5, 4-4
2018 Bowl: Outback Bowl vs. Iowa (L 22-27)
Coach: Joe Moorhead (8-5 at Mississippi State, 8-5 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Moorhead
Defensive Coordinator: Bob Shoop
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kylin Hill, RB, 734 yards
Passing: Keytaon Thompson, QB, 458 yards
Receiving: Stephen Guidry, WR, 440 yards
Tackles: Erroll Thompson, LB, 87
Sacks: Willie Gay, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: 4 tied with 2
Other Key Returnees: WR Osirus Mitchell, WR Deddrick Thomas, CB Cam Dantzler, DE Chauncey Rivers
Key Losses: QB Nick Fitzgerald, RB Aeris Williams, TE Justin Johnson, OL Elgeton Jenkins, OL Deion Calhoun, DT Jeffery Simmons, DE Montez Sweat, S Johnathan Abram, S Mark McLaurin
The offense could have been much better than it was and the hope is the year in the system will get everybody acclimated and firing on all cylinders. They will have to do that without quarterback Nick Fitzgerald though. Keytaon Thompson was the heir apparent and played well backing up Fitzgerald with 458 passing yards and six touchdowns in limited action. However, the addition of Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens has turned this into a very interesting quarterback battle. Regardless of who wins the job, MSU will have a quarterback who can run the ball, but there are some questions at wide receiver. Osirus Mitchell and Stephen Guidry are back, but neither proved to be consistent. While the passing game may struggle again, the ground game is in good hands with Kylin Hill and Nick Gibson returning.
Mississippi State boasted one of the best defenses in the country last year, ranking second in rush defense and scoring defense and first in total defense, allowing a mere 263.1 yards per game. There are some key players gone from that unit, but there was also a lot of depth. Chauncey Rivers is expected to be the new top pass rushing threat in a new-look defensive front. The key will be getting production from the interior part of the line that was so strong last season. Willie Gay, Erroll Thompson and Leo Lewis return to a linebacker corps that could now be the strength of the defense. The secondary is led by cornerback Cameron Dantzler who is coming off a great sophomore season. Brian Cole missed most of last season with an injury and his return to the nickelback position will help ease the other losses.
The Bottom Line:
Once again this is a good Mississippi State team. Are they good enough to move the ball against a good SEC defense? That is the big question after last year’s anemic offensive performances against the elite teams in the conference. If the defense can play as well as they did last season, it will not take much offense to at least make those games close.
Projected Bowl: TaxSlayer Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 223.6 (20th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 173.8 (111, 13)
Total Offense: 397.4 (70, 10)
Scoring Offense: 28.5 (67, 10)
Rushing Defense: 95.1 (2, 1)
Pass Defense: 168.0 (7, 1)
Total Defense: 263.1 (1, 1)
Scoring Defense: 13.2 (2, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (26, 5)
Sacks: 3.00 (10, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (49, 9)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#54 Cameron Dantzler
#66 Darryl Williams
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#34 Charles Cross
#79 Nathan Pickering
#182 De'Monte Russell
#195 Garrett Shrader