With the start of the Dan Mullen era at Mississippi State just over 12 weeks away, we are going to take a look at an upcoming opponent each week until the start of the 2009 season. First up is Jackson State Univsersity. Not only is this the first meeting between the two schools, this will also be the first time any of the DiV I schools in the state have played any of the traditionally black colleges in the state (JSU, Alcorn, etc).
Not being a follower of the SWAC conference, I don't personally know a lot about JSU. So, I took a look at their 2008 stats to see what kind of team they were last year. They finished the season 7-5, losing the SWAC Championship to Grambling by score of 41-9. The Tigers won the SWAC Championship in 2007.
They were a balanced offense, racking up just over 1700 yards on the ground, averaging 142.2 yards per game, and about 1800 in the air, averaging 155.7 yards per game.. JSU outscored opponents 253 to 248 averaging 21.1 points per game.
The Tiger's starting QB should be familiar to State fans: Trae Rutland. Rutland was a Bulldog signee in 2005 but transferred to JSU. He passed for over 1400 yards in 2008 as a junior and will more than likely be the starting QB for the Tiger's 2009 season. Trae was not only the teams leading passer, he was also their leading rusher with almost 500 yards for the season.
Defensively, the Tigers seem a little week just by looking at the stats. They seem to be good against the run, allowing around 900 yards on the season. However, they allowed almost 2000 yards on the season.
It is really hard to tell how this game will play out. It will be the first in-game test of the new Dan Mullen offense, but I think this could be an ideal opportunity to iron out some kinks in the new system, especially with Auburn looming on the horizon.