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Joe Moorhead is Inheriting a Team Already Set to Succeed in 2018

Mississippi State paired a great head coaching hire with a team that could have a great amount of success next season.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

When Joe Moorhead started coaching the Fordham Rams, he inherited a team that went a spectacularly painful 1-10 the season before he got there. It didn’t take him long to take a team that had lost 9 straight in a row the season before and turn them into a winner. Moorhead took a team that couldn’t score more than 24 points the season before and gave them a winning season and an offense that made the players and their fans hopeful.

After going 6-5 in his first season, Moorhead would rattle off three consecutive FCS playoff appearances from 2013 to 2015. In this stretch, his team would roll off win streaks of 10 straight in 2013, 9 straight in 2014, and 6 straight in 2015. His overall record in this time was an impressive 38 wins to 13 losses. In his final season at Fordham, his team scored 36.8 points per game.

From there, he went to join James Franklin at Penn State, where offensive woes were clearly plaguing the Nittany Lions. In 2014, Franklin’s team averaged 20.6 points per game and a dreadful 335 yards per game. 2015 wasn’t much better, featuring an offense that scored 23.2 points per game and 348 yards per game. Both of these teams went 7-6.

Wehn Joe Moorhead arrived, things changed rather quickly. The 2016 squad went 11-3 and finished 7th in the nation. They won an impressive upset over Ohio State and would go on to win the Big Ten title with a victory over Wisconsin to cap off a 9 game win streak. During all of this, the Nittany Lions scored 37.6 points per game and would rack up 435.6 yards per game. Trace McSorely and Saquon Barkley thrived under Moorhead’s tutelage. And 2017 led to both of them having considerable amounts of success again.

In the first 12 games of 2017, Penn State has averaged a stunning 41.6 points per game while totaling 453.3 yards per game. As for the aforementioned McSorely and Barkley? Well, they’ve been rather impressive too. McSorely, Penn State’s quarterback, is having a season to be proud of. While completing over 65% of his passes, McSorely has thrown for 3228 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. This isn’t counting his rushing ability. McSorely has run for 431 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Yet, while his progress in Moorhead’s system has been impressive, but McSorely’s success is relatively dwarfed by his friend Saquon Barkley.

As you likely know by now, Barkley is a Heisman candidate and is the best running back in college football. And alongside McSorely and under Moorhead’s guidance, Barkley has been incredible. On 199 rushing attempts, Barkley has totaled 1134 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns. However, that’s not the only place where Saquon’s presence has been felt. He’s also been a reliable receiver with 47 receptions leading to 594 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air.

And now, Joe Moorhead is a head coach again. He’s here in Starkville, Mississippi, where he’ll get the opportunity to lead and develop Nick Fitzgerald, Aeris Williams, and Kylin Hill, a trio that is sure to flourish under Moorhead’s lead. Add in the fact that the Bulldogs bring back Farrod Green at tight end, a slew of young receivers, and a deep offensive line, and things appear promising with Mississippi State’s future on offense.

It’s hard to imagine John Cohen making a considerably better hire for the Bulldogs than this one. Joe Moorhead’s success and revitalizing offense is worth celebrating and noting. He’s improved offenses everywhere he’s been and he’s been a head coach in difficult circumstances before. Now, he’s inheriting a situation where he can potentially thrive immediately.