Mississippi State will take a trip north to the bluegrass state to battle the Kentucky Wildcats in what seems to have become a traditional halloween weekend showdown. Last year, the Wildcats and Bulldogs gave everyone in Starkville a thriller of a game and the good guys squeaked out a 24-17 victory.
So how will the Bulldogs stack up against the Wildcats in Lexington this year?
This year will see many new faces on the Wildcat offense. Gone from the lineup are Mike Hartline, Derrick Locke, Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews. There is some experience at quarterback. Morgan Newton, now a junior, got some reps during his freshman season when Mike Hartline was injured. He also played well in the BBVA Compass bowl against the Pitt Panthers, despite the loss.
In the backfield, look for sophomore Raymond Sanders to shine in a running back corps that will also likely feature freshman Josh Clemons, sophomore Jonathan George, junior CoShik Williams and redshirt freshman Brandon Gainer.
The offensive line that will be leading the way for these running backs could be one of the best in the SEC this year. With senior experience at the tackle positions (Chandler Burden and Billy Joe Murphy), senior Stuart Hines and junior Larry Warford in the guard slots, the least experienced is junior Matt Smith at center.
Inexperience at wide receiver could mean that you will see Morgan Newton gaining yards on the ground this year. While there is plenty of talent and players in the receiving corps, can they be as consistent as Cobb and Matthews and reliable targets for Newton.
The Wildcat D finished 2010 ranked 10th in the SEC. And lets face it, Kentucky has never really been known as a defensive power house. They allowed an average of 400 yards per game last year. However, they have a new coordinator this year in Rick Minter and are looking to improve.
Minter will have plenty of experience to work with as he has 10 starters returning from last years squad. They have one of the top groups of linebackers in the SEC coming back, with their top 3 tacklers on the roster. They also have just about all of their two-deep secondary returning, including senior Mychal Bailey and junior Martavious Neloms in the safety slots and two seniors (Randall Burden and Anthony Mosely) at corner back.
Trips to Lexington are not usually great for the Bulldogs, although we did win our last trip up there 31-24. I am looking for another successful road trip to Kentucky, especially since we have a bye-week leading up to this game.
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