Opening the 2016 season, we all know Dan Mullen has to figure out who is going to be the quarterback for this team. And it’s an odd place for the team to be in because the one who has the most playing time against SEC competition is the one most fans would least like to see get the job.
Damian Williams has played against Alabama, Arkansas, and even started against Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. All of this took place during the 2013 season. He received some additional mop-up duty time against the Vanderbilt Commodores in 2014. But in the limited time Bulldog fans have seen him play, there hasn’t been anything there to suggest he can take MSU far above and beyond a six or seven win season.
Williams decided to take the 2015 season as a redshirt season in the hopes of improving and giving himself a better chance to win the starting job this year and next. For all intents and purposes, it seems to have paid off some. Each quarterback had moments where they looked great and others where they looked abysmal in the spring, but Williams demonstrated he knows the value of taking care of the football.
If Williams wins the quarterback job, Dan Mullen has likely decided he can’t trust the other three quarterbacks on the team to not turn it over. The offense will become very similar to the offenses Mullen put on the field during the 2009 and 2010 seasons under Chris Relf. Throwing the ball will be kept to a minimum, and there will be lots of read option plays.
Either Aeris Williams or Dontavian Lee will have to step up and take control of the running game. Mississippi State will need a running back to carry the football 30 to 35 times a game, and despite the under the radar success Brandon Holloway had at running back in 2015, his body simply won’t allow him to carry the football that much.
If Williams wins the job, the defense is going to have to be as dominant as the Mississippi State faithful have ever seen. The offense won’t put up 30 points on a regular basis, so the defense will need to limit opponents as much as possible. Peter Sirmon and the new defensive coaching staff will need to fly around the field, get three-and-outs on a regular basis, and create some turnovers.
Projections with Williams
- Passing Yards: Around 1,600
- Completion Percentage: 50-55%
- Rushing Yards: 500 to 600
- Passing Touchdowns: 10 to 15
- Rushing Touchdowns: 4 to 8
- Interceptions: 7 to 10
- Win Total: 6 or 7
This team can get to a bowl under Damian Williams, but the ceiling of Williams is the lowest of the four. And it also means if he is the guy Dan Mullen chooses to lead the offense, it will likely mean the other three did more to lose the job than Damian Williams did to win it.