#42 Misssissippi State Football 2014 Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #42
#10 SEC

Mississippi State Team Page#42 Misssissippi State Football 2014 Preview
Buy Mississippi State Football Tickets

The last time Mississippi State captured the SEC title was in, well, uh…1941. But with Zak Prescott at QB, many fans in Starkville believe that the Bulldogs have a fair chance this time around. Dan Mullen will be returning for his 6th season as head coach, after leading MSU to four bowl games in a row. Geoff Collins will also be returning as the defensive coordinator after signing a two-year extension. Many Cowbell fans are very excited about this upcoming season, but the question is: Can Mississippi State hang with the SEC powers?

2013 Record: 7-6, 3-5
2013 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs Rice (W 44-7)
Coach: Dan Mullen (36-28 at Mississippi State, 36-28 overall)
Offensive Coordinators: John Hevesy, Billy Gonzales
Defensive Coordinator: Geoff Collins

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dak Prescott, QB, 829 yards
Passing: Dak Prescott, QB, 1,940 yards
Receiving: Jameon Lewis, WR, 923 yards
Tackles: Benardick McKinney, LB, 71
Sacks: Benardick McKinney, LB, 3.5
Interceptions: Taveze Calhoun, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Josh Robinson, WR Malcolm Johnson, WR De’Runnya Wilson, DB Kendrick Market, DL Chris Jones

Key Losses: RB LaDarius Perkins, QB Tyler Russell, LB Deontae Skinner, S Nickoe Whitley

The MSU faithful are very excited about their starting QB, Dak Prescott. Recently named to the Maxwell Award Watch List, the expectations are high for Prescott, who many consider a possible Heisman trophy candidate. He started over senior Tyler Russell last season, throwing for 1,940 yards and 10 TD's. Prescott really reminds me of Tim Tebow; he has a good arm, but he’s even more explosive on the ground. He can just out power defenders to get extra yards. He was also MSU's rushing leader last season, with 829 yards and 13 touchdowns. Prescott can do it all and showed signs of greatness at points last season, such as throwing for 283 yards in the bowl game against Rice with 5 total touchdowns. He will also have receiver Jameon Lewis back for his senior season, who totaled 923 yards last season, 220 of those yards in the bowl game. I think Prescott is poised for a breakout season and will be a huge factor in MSU's success.

I think that all of Starkville will agree that the Bulldog’s major weakness last year was special teams. MSU owned one of the worst field goal percentages in the country, only making 10 of the 21 attempted. Last year’s kicker Devon Bell will move to punter and sophomore Evan Sobiesk is expected to start at kicker. Mississippi State has the talent to take great teams such as LSU or Alabama late into the 4th quarter, but if they want to come out on top in those games, they must have a clutch kicker. No question. And that’s something that Bulldog fans will be biting their nails about when they get into close games. Another area of concern for MSU is their defensive line. With only 20 sacks in 2013, ranking 11th in the SEC, they had a hard time getting to the quarterback. Benardick McKinney, who had 71 tackles in his sophomore campaign, will need some help from his teammates if the Bulldogs want to be more successful at bringing down QB’s this year.

The Bottom Line:
It’s not easy to live in the SEC West, but Zak Prescott has given Starkville hope that they can be a contender. They obviously must improve in many areas, but I believe that Mississippi State can put up a fight against the SEC powerhouses. If Prescott can live up to his expectations, and Geoff Collins’ defense is consistent, then MSU might just be able to pick up five wins in the SEC. Their non-conference schedule is very easy, and if they win their bowl game, the Bulldogs may collect their first 10-win season since 1999. The Cowbells will be ringing for a long, long time if they can pull that off.

Projected Bowl: Music City Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 189.9 (43rd in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 244.5 (55, 8)
Total Offense: 434.4 (42, 9)
Scoring Offense: 27.7 (70, 10)
Rushing Defense: 144.2 (37, 4)
Pass Defense: 205.2 (22, 5)
Total Defense: 349.3 (18, 4)
Scoring Defense: 23.0 (33, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.5 (24, 3)
Sacks: 1.54 (96, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 1.77 (50, 7)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#62 Benardrick McKinney


See All College Sports Madness Top 104 Football Previews