It's that time of year when spring practice is in the rear view mirror and fall camp still seems like light years away. To help pass the time we came up with this fun topic of bold predictions for the upcoming season.
We may do a similar post for the SEC or college football as a whole in the near future, but for now these are all MSU related. Here it goes:
1. Dak Prescott will only rush for 800 yards
Dak rushed for just shy of 1,000 yards last season, and most people are expecting about the same this time around for the senior. Call me crazy, but all signs are pointing to him not being as involved in the run game this year. The receiver position is more stacked than it has ever been, not only with talent but with depth. You have a veteran quarterback that you must keep healthy in order to make noise in the SEC. There are also four capable running backs on the roster that will split reps and eat up a lot of those yards. Dak will get his carries, but not to the extent that we are used to seeing.
2. Dontavian Lee will win the starting job after the Auburn game
Speaking of those running backs, none of them emerged after spring practices as a guaranteed starter. Ashton Shumpert will have the edge at the beginning of the season because he has the most experience, and all four backs will see carries early on. A lot of people are predicting running back to be handled by committee the entire season, but I believe somebody will emerge as the starter. That somebody will be Dontavian Lee. He was impressive with his ability to spin out of tackles in the spring game and showed he wasn't afraid to lower the boom. I do think all the backs will see carries the whole season, but Lee will start seeing the majority of them after a breakout game against a SEC opponent. What better time to do that than on the road at Auburn?
3. There won't be any coaching turnover after the season
I may be going out on the biggest limb with this one. It seems like MSU goes through position coaches like there's no tomorrow. Heck, even defensive coordinators for that matter. But this looks like a year the staff should stay pretty much intact. Hevesy, Turner, Hughes, Gonzales, etc. appear to be happy where they are, and if Manny Diaz splits again, it won't be after his first year back in the program.
4. Richie Brown will shave his beard
Mississippi State has become known as Beard-U over the last couple of years with fantastic displays of facial hair such as Wes Rea, Richie Brown, Ben Beckwith, Trevor Fitts, etc. Rea and Fitts both shaved their beards at one point in the baseball season (which took away their intimidation power) but we have yet to see what baby face Richie would look like. Two-a-days are going to be scorching hot in the football pads, and the beard will finally come to an end. What a tragedy it will be. After all, the guy's beard has its own twitter account.
5. Devon Bell will be a consistent field goal kicker (kinda)
The last few years the weakest spot on the field for MSU has been special teams, particularly the field goal kicking unit. They finally found a solid kicker last year in Evan Sobiesk, who became money from short range after the beginning of the season. With Sobiesk choosing dental school over football, there is a good chance State will turn back to Devon Bell to handle kicking duties. After an up and down freshman season, Bell struggled to say the least in 2013 before switching over to punter last season, where he excelled. Now a senior who should be hungry to help his team win, Bell will come out and surprise us all by being a reliable long-range kicker.
6. MSU will beat Bama at home but lose to Arkansas the following week
This is the year, the year that Mullen finally finds a way to take down Nick Saban's squad. He's 0 for 6 so far but this may be the best opportunity he's had. Bama has a lot of question marks, the biggest being at the most important position on the field. Davis Wade will be rocking that night and it will be enough to help the maroon and white pull out a close win. Then the biggest trap game in the history of trap games awaits the next week at Arkansas. The Bulldogs won't be able to get up after an emotional win, and some players may be looking ahead to the Egg Bowl. The Hogs will pull that one out at home.
7. The team will lead the SEC in interceptions
MSU finished last season tied for third place in interceptions, and returning players accounted for 13 out of those 16 picks. Manny Diaz's attacking style of football (which helped LA Tech lead the nation in turnovers) will lead to more pash rush on opposing quarterbacks, and that will lead to more turnovers for the defense. Question marks at safety will also cause teams to throw the ball a lot more than they run against the Bulldogs. Will Redmond will have a breakout year at cornerback, and MSU's linebackers will get their hands on the football several times like they did in 2014.
8. College Gameday will return to Starkville
Last year College Gameday came to town for the Auburn game and it brought with it the greatest football atmosphere the campus has ever seen. Don't be surprised to see the Gameday crew return once again in 2015. With home games against LSU, Alabama, and Ole Miss, I am predicting them to make a return trip one of those weeks without even seeing the rest of the college football schedule.
9. Third and short won't be an automatic Dak Prescott run
Last season Mullen pounded Dak up the middle over and over again in third and short situations. For the first several games, it worked. Then MSU started facing the better defenses and the play became way too predictable. Mullen will get away from that this season and trust his senior quarterback to pick up more first downs with his arm.
10. De'Runnya Wilson will declare for the draft
If I had to choose one player who could have a breakout season in 2015, it would be Wilson. After finishing fourth in the SEC in receiving touchdowns, the junior is poised to take the next step. His stats don't necessarily jump out because of his numbers against non-conference opponents, but Wilson made plays when it mattered most. He had 70 yards or more receiving against LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Georgia Tech. Wilson racked up 90 yards against Bama and over 100 in the Egg Bowl and Orange Bowl. He tied for first in the country in third-down touchdowns last season.