It’s the time of year people start putting out their bold predictions for the upcoming college football season. So I decided to go ahead and throw mine out there regarding the upcoming Mississippi State season.
Please remember these are bold predictions. The idea is to step out on a limb, not just make a prediction about something that is likely to happen. The very concept lends itself to not coming true.
Also, not all of these will be positive. Some will, some won’t. And with the number of questions surrounding the Bulldogs, you could predict each of these things to go in a thousand different directions.
No one will rush for more than 500 yards for the Bulldogs
I really hope I am wrong on this one. MSU struggled to find a running back they could count on to consistently get yardage last season. I’ve read reports where Coach Knox is really liking what Ashton Shumpert is doing. That scares me.
My fear is the coaching staff is going to run Shumpert out as the first team starter again. And if they do, they will wait far too long to realize he still just doesn’t have what it takes.
The quarterback position won’t be settled until after the fifth game of the season against Auburn
I don’t think this is bad as people will assume it to be. The chances that we learn too much from the South Alabama game is low. All four quarterbacks could have really good games, so they may not separate much.
Then the Bulldogs take on South Carolina. I think Mullen will give most of the reps to two guys this game, and he will key in on one of them for the next week against LSU.
And that’s where Mississippi State will go back to square one. Whoever had the lead and gets most of the snaps likely won’t play very well against LSU.
But someone should step back into the lead against UMass and solidify themselves as the number one guy by the time we get done with Auburn. And whoever it is, they’ll have time to grow into the offense more by the time the toughest games of the season roll around.
Donald Gray breaks out in a similar fashion to the way Fred Ross did in 2015
I’m very high on Donald Gray. I really wanted to see him play more last year, but he didn’t get on the field as much as I had hoped.
I think this year changes things for him. Gray is an explosive player who can make big things happen.
Mississippi State will have a top 3 run defense in the SEC in 2016
The front seven combined with Peter Sirmon’s new defensive philosophy will have the Bulldogs shutting down the run even better than they have in years past. This group has always been good, but they become dominant this season.
The key will be Nick James. He has to step up and be the type of nose Tackle that can occupy two or three guys on the opposing offensive line. If he can’t, this prediction will flame out very quickly.
The Bulldogs will also have a top 5 pass defense in the SEC
I’m really stepping out on a limb on this one. We have great safeties, but who knows what we are going to get at cornerback. But look at the teams Mississippi State is playing this year, and how many of the teams do you expect to really try to air it out against the Bulldogs?
The only ones I am counting on to do that right now are BYU, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss. Everyone else is going to try to pound the ball with the run.
As a result, we’ll look up and see the Bulldogs have a pretty decent ranking against the pass by the time Texas A&M comes to town.
Mississippi State wins 9 games in 2016
This may not be as bold as people will think it is. For the Bulldogs to do so, you’re basically asking them to do three things.
The first is to simply win all of the nonconference games. The only one most people are concerned about is BYU, but the Bulldogs can win that one.
The second is to go 2-0 against the East. MSU plays South Carolina at home and Kentucky on the road. That is more than doable.
The third is to go 3-0 at home against Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Auburn. They went 2-1 against those teams last season and I think all three of them and Mississippi State are about the same as they were last year. So chalk the season up to 9 wins.