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Mississippi State must focus on the Future During this Bowl Season

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The Bulldogs are forced to focus on the future with this bowl season. That’s a tough hand to be dealt, but it is what it is at this point.

Mississippi v Mississippi State Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

Mississippi State cannot afford to dwell on the results of last night. It must focus on the future during this bowl season.

You see, State has been forced into an uncomfortable situation. The Bulldogs have to find a way to win a bowl game after dropping a horrible game against Ole Miss last night. To complicate matters, they’ll have a true freshman quarterback at the helm with only walk-ons to back him up.

That sounds less than ideal, if you ask me.

But a month of bowl practices and some rest will do the team some good. It’ll give the talented Keytaon Thompson an opportunity to grow and learn. It’ll also give the Bulldogs an opportunity to focus on the future of the program.

Mississippi v Mississippi State Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

Though the focus by many fans has been on how Mississippi State is bringing over 30 seniors into the 2018 season, including the star duo of Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the Bulldogs are bringing a wealth of younger contributors into next season as well. That’ll pay off in the years to come.

Jeffery Simmons, Leo Lewis, Jamal Couch, Deddrick Thomas, Nick Gibson, Keith Mixon, Darryl Williams, and Farrod Green will all be juniors next year. Most of them will return for the 2019 season. Keytaon Thompson, Kylin Hill, Willie Gay, Cameron Dantzler, Kobe Jones, and Reggie Todd will be sophomores.

All of that current youth talent will develop into a group of key contributors for the coming seasons. And with Nick Fitzgerald more than likely out for the bowl season, Mississippi State will be forced to take a look at what the future can hold, whether or not that’s earlier than what we (and probably Dan Mullen) want, it doesn't matter. It’s how the ball bounced last night. It’s the hand that the Bulldogs have been dealt.

And so, the future of the program will be put in a position to win now. And there’s a ton of people clad in maroon that are hoping he can do so. Although he struggled at times last night (two fumbles and an interception will mar any game at any level), Keytaon Thompson did show some promise.

13 for 27 for 195 yards, a touchdown, and an interception aren’t stellar stats, but they’re acceptable for a freshman quarterback thrust into action the way he was. His 26 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown paced State in rushing stats. And that’s what State will rely upon.

Dan Mullen’s offenses have always relied upon a mobile quarterback to be successful, save the 2012 Tyler Russell fun and frustration we all had. With Nick Fitzgerald sidelined with injury, a quarterback that puts up stats almost identical to numbers we’ve seen from Fitz is the perfect temporary replacement for bowl season.

Add in the fact that Thompson’s rushing efforts were partnered with 13 carries, 82 yards, and a touchdown from fellow true freshman Kylin Hill and things get truly interesting.

The future of Mississippi State’s offense made plays last night. They weren’t enough in the Egg Bowl, but it’s undeniable that plays were made by the two guys expected to headline the Bulldogs offense last night. Mississippi State will likely rely on them in an even bigger capacity to try to get a 9th win this season.

Although it cannot replace what a victory in the Battle for the Golden Egg would have meant, a bowl win would go a long way to redeem the ending of this season. Capping the season off with more practices for young players that are sure to be featured in maroon and white for a long time is important.

Mississippi State cannot afford to dwell on the results of last night. It must focus on the future during this bowl season.