This is a column that I will be doing weekly. I will focus on matchups from an MSU perspective. I will also point out what I believe to be a specific matchup to keep an eye on, in most cases it will be an advantage MSU should be able exploit. Anyways, lets talk some JSU Tigers (not something you hear often).
So, JSU comes to town on the heels of their best finish under coach Rick Comegy. The Tigers finished at 9-2 last season, posting a 7-2 record in the SWAC. However, building on 2011 could be a challenge as they will be replacing record-setting quarterback Casey Therriault.
The Jackson State offense will, however, receive a boost from former Ole Miss quarterback signee, Clayton Moore, and recent Ole Miss transfer, Tobias Singleton. Coupled with preseason All-American Rico Richardson, along with do-it-all back BJ Lee, the Jackson State offense should be able to cause some trouble for SWAC defenses this season. Moving the ball against the Bulldog defense should prove to be a different animal, though. It will be a nice early season test to face an offense like this in the opener for the State.
The defensive side of the ball for JSU does not have the same amount of explosion as the offense, but they will boast one of the best defensive lines in the SWAC. The defensive backfield will feature seniors, Richard Hughes and Mike Hill, as well as junior, Qua Cox. The MSU receivers will be tested early, but their athleticism should prove to be too much for the Tigers. Look for MSU to break in Tyler Russell early in this one and let LaDarius Perkins and Nick Griffin finish this one off in the second half. It will be interesting to see how Tyler Russell does in his first start as THE man, but you won't get a complete feel for how he will do watching him against the JSU secondary. Overall, the talent levels of these teams are not comparable, but this JSU team isn't a bottom feeder in the SWAC. They will challenge State, but the depth and talent level should prevent them from making this one interesting.
The matchup that is worth watching and will have my attention, though, is the MSU defensive line versus the JSU offensive line.
It will be intriguing to see how Josh Boyd and the young defensive linemen do against an offensive line that is in line for some hardware from the SWAC (yeah, I know that has no intimidation factor, but its the best you'll get from this game).
The development of the young defensive linemen for MSU to create depth will go a long way towards the success this year for the Dogs. Also, Josh Boyd must be able to provide a presence in the middle that fills the void that Fletcher Cox's move to the NFL leaves.
This won't be a matchup that stretches throughout the game, but in the first half, you might be able to get a good feel of how this defensive line could look.
Obviously, MSU has the advantage at every position across the field in this matchup, so the matchup I highlighted isn't going to be an intense battle. But, hey, football is back so at least you can be happy about that. I look forward to highlighting these matchups throughout the season. See you in Vegas on Saturday and remember, THIS IS OUR STATE (SWAC teams included).