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5 Big Questions Dan Mullen Will Need His Team to Answer Before the Season Starts

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Defense Ready to Play Primarily out of a 3-4 Scheme?

Peter Sirmon has come to town and he’s brought a new scheme with him to Starkville. And there’s a ton of questions about it.

There’s not much question about the talent that the Bulldogs have on the field, and there’s two strong leaders, Richie Brown and A.J. Jefferson, that are already set and prepared for the transition. But can they help lead the entire defense? There’s an entirely new defensive staff in Starkville, and all eyes are on Peter Sirmon as he tries to mesh the talent on the field with his scheme.

Who is Going to Step Up At Running Back?

The running back position is still a mess. Ashton Shumpert has the athleticism and build to be a solid SEC running back, but for whatever reason things haven’t clicked for him. And Brandon Holloway is an incredibly fast athlete, but he’s also a pretty small guy that will likely be used in a variety of ways, but not solely at running back.

So who steps up? Is it Malik Dear? Aeris Williams? Donatavian Lee? Nobody really knows. And if you’re going to be successful in the SEC, having a strong running game is just about required.

Is Justin Johnson the Answer to a Lack of Height at Receiver?

Mississippi State has a bunch of fast, exciting guys at receiver. The only problem is all of the experienced ones are pretty short. Enter Justin Johnson.

Johnson is quickly getting attention from media members and fans, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The 6’3” 239 pound tight end might be just the perfect guy to replace Gus Walley after Walley hung up his pads from injury. But Johnson is still a sophomore and SEC defenses will look to exploit his inexperience.

Is the Offensive Line Ready to Play in the SEC this Season?

The offensive line has been a question mark for the past couple of seasons it feels like. We just don’t know what we’re going to get. That 2014 unit didn’t have a lot of talent up front, but they had a ton of experience and played together well.

2015? Well, it wasn’t fun for Dak Prescott. But we had Dak Prescott to overcome that. Anyone else and it wouldn’t have ended well for them. And our season. But there’s a decent amount of talent and plenty of fresh faces across the line. Can the line mesh together and play well down the stretch?


This is the question of the offseason. This is it. There’s been a ton of debate back and forth and back and forth and Dan Mullen won’t even give us a damn hint. So, who is set to be our quarterback?

Between Damian Williams, Nick Fitzgerald, Nick Tiano, and Elijah Staley, it realistically could be any one of the four. And the team would likely do alright with any of them. The problem is, expectations have been raised in Starkville. Simply having “alright” seasons just won’t cut it. Simply being bowl eligible isn’t a huge accomplishment in 2016 for Mississippi State. So Dan Mullen will need someone to step up and win the job. But who is it going to be?