With Media Day getting fired up, it feels incredibly close to football season, because, yeah, it totally is. The lights, the hype, the swag… It feels like Starkvegas. There is a perfect mix of everything you want in a SEC Contender in this team. Can they be special? Can they make us cry? How many beers will we drowned our sorrows to this year? (this is that weird jinx thing people tty and do). Here is a look at something about everything that is anything you need to know for this upcoming season:
vs. Rajun Cajuns
Preview: Mississippi State will open the season in a neutral site game versus a typical cupcake, but do not sleep on the Cajuns. It should be a big win, and a good time to work out any kinks before a much tougher game against Southern Miss. But please do not sleep on the Cajuns.
Predicted Result: W, 27-7
vs Southern Miss
Preview: The home opener might be one of the biggest trap games of the college football seasons. It is a tough game, especially as an early afternoon game. Overall, Mississippi State, especially in the trenches, should be able to overpower the Golden Eagles later on in the game. I think it will be a much closer games than many people predict.
Predicted Result: W, 31-20
vs. Kansas State
Preview: There is no Master Schneider across the field and no trip to Manhattan but that doesn’t make this game any easier. This game is at home and that should make this game more manageable for the Dawgs and they should take care of business.
Predicted Result: W, 35-17
Preview: Kentucky should be bringing a good record into the game this season. Kentucky is consistently improving and has a great coach in Mark Stoops. The two have played each other well lately and has been worth the watch. Ultimately I think they play well at home and keep winning.
Predicted Result: W, 24-13
Preview: The Plains has not been too kind to us lately. But I think this game is one for the ages, goes down to the wire, Christmann for the win.
Predicted Result: W, 27-24
Preview: This is going to be a game. The first ranked vs ranked matchup of the season for State. This is a much more interesting matchup than most people probably think. State will shift to a different version of the spread that should matchup well with a Pruitt defense. This is a toss up game for me, but it is a tough environment and will most likely be a night game. Those two give a slight edge to the Vols, and State can’t scratch by the Vols.
Predicted Result: L, 28-24
Preview: An away game in Death Valley is never an easy task, luckily we do not have to worrt about that. Coach O just does not seem like the guy to make these group of Tigers scary again. The team will be good but hey are mediocre at best in the SEC. State wins pretty easily.
Predicted Result: W, 35-20
at Texas A&M
Preview: This might be the biggest question mark on the schedule to me. I do not really know what Texas A&M will be this year. They got a major upgrade at HC, but they have a big question mark at QB. Part of me feels 6-6, part of me feels 9-3. They play Clemson and Before they even get to State, so they will be much better than there record suggests when they likely drop those 2 games. This game is an away game for us, so again it would be hard to pick us on the road. Another nail bitter, but we do not hang on.
Predicted Result: L, 31-27
Preview: Arkansas is going to be a much better squad this year than the last few. I think Coach Morris is not a championship winner but is a guy who will be Dan Mullen like for the program. If State is 7-1 like I predict at this point, this is a huge trap game. The Razorbacks play the Dawgs good every year, with a crazy ending happening in favor of the Dawgs. The football gods might want to bless the Hogs if they play it close, so State needs to put this game away by the half. I still think Dawgs win, but I would not like to see this game close in the final 5 minutes.
Predicted Result: W, 21-17
Preview: We want Bama. We nearly beat Bama, We get heart broken again. Welcome to our lives as a State fan. Late touchdown wins it,
Predicted Result: L, 21-17
vs Abilene Christian
Preview: Close one, but yeah. We won,
Predicted Result: W, 52-10
vs Ole Miss
Preview: Mississippi State will be on upset watch for another week when Ole Miss comes into Starkville. Ole Miss will have nothing to lose and the Dawgs will be Top 25 in the country. With last year being so heated, this game will be must watch TV. Drama late, but Dawgs stay Golden.
Predicted Result: W, 42-35 OT
Overall Season Record: 9-3
Team MVP: Kylin Hill
To me, this is a no brainer. He might be one of the best backs in the country. I believe he will light up the SEC and could even be in the Heisman Conversation.
Offensive Player of the Year: Tommy Stevens
There is a lot of talk about Kylin Hill. And rightfully so, he will be a beast for us next season and in the future… but there is a really good guy who will be beside him. He is built to succeed in Moorhead’s system, and arguably may have benefited the most from the scene change. Bold Prediction? He will pass, run, and catch a touchdown at least once in a game next season.
Defensive Player of the Year: Leo Lewis
Eroll Thompson is going to be phenomenal, but Leo Lewis plays one of the most important positions on defense. He will have more experience, more talent, and has put in a tremendous amount of work this offseason. With the NCAA mess out of his hair, he can finally just play football. If I had to find a player comparison for him, it would be Ray Lewis. I love what he could do next season and he might just surprise people.
Rookie of the Year: Isaiah Zuber
This is a toss up for me, because I do not see too many new players making an impact this season because of the strong, experienced depth. But the biggest need in recent years has been a good wide receiver and Zuber is that and more. He adds some juice in the return game and is a big play threat.
Most Improved Player: Chauncey Rivers
This could have any number of players. Something about a defensive lineman in the #5 looks great and he could be quite a difference maker. On a line that will need someone to step up, Chauncey might just be the guy to break out.
Head Ball Coach: Joe Moorhead
Coach Mo came over from Penn St. with a great track record and a ton of respect in coaching circles. He had a rough start to his career in Starkville, but he still has a bright future here. He is loved by players and an incredible recruiter, as well as a bright offensive mind. Coming off an extension this offseason, it will be up to Joe Mo to prove his worth.
Quarterback Coach: Andrew Breiner
A D-1 head coach left his team, to be the QB coach. First, it shows how much his staff loved Coach Mo to follow him to another school (Was OC under Moorhead at Fordham). Secondly, it shows how great of a recruiter that Moorhead is. Breiner is young and innovative, and his work with Stevens and KT will show his worth this season.
Running Back Coach: Terry Richardson
Replacing an incredible recruiter and future head coach Charles Huff will not be easy, but I really like Richardson. He is very similar to Coach Huff and I think he will be a great hire.
Wide Receivers Coach: Michael Johnson
Coming from Oregon, Johnson brings incredible energy, recruiting skills, and NFL experience. Johnson is one of my favorite coaches on the staff and has ton of potential to grow in this league.
Tight End Coach: Tony Hughs
This name might sound a little familiar. Hughs is returning back to State after a run as HC of Jackson State. Another former head coach on the staff adds experience and lots more help with recruiting. Hughs will be returning for his 8th season overall with the Maroon and White, but this time on the offensive side of the ball.
O-Line Coach: Marcus Johnson
This to me is a very underrated and incredible coach. A former NFL offensive lineman, who is from Mississippi, and worked with one of my favorite coaches (David Cutcliffe) for 6 years… that is a good bit of positive. This is huge part of this staff coaching wise, and this is even huger recruiting wise.
Defense Coordinator: Bob Stoops
This hire was met with so much fire. There was some excitement, but there was a lot of negativity. Bob Shoop, before UT was a phenomenal defensive mind. He was a hot name when he was at Vanderbilt. UT was a dumpster fire, with a lack of talent, and lack of a good head coach. He did not stand a chance. And he proved us all his worth last season. One of the best assistants in all of football will try and follow up one of the best defensive seasons in program history.
D-Line Coach: Deke Adams
Deke Adams is coming in with HUGE shoes to fill. After the great Brian Baker has left for the Tide, Deke comes in looking to be at least half of Baker, Adams has a good history as a coach and did well at North Carolina. I think he will be a good coach who will make good use of some nice players.
Linebacker Coach: Chris Marve
Chris Marve played under Shoop back in his playing days, and it speaks wonders to the impression he must have made to be on the defensive staff with him. He has been tabbed as one of the best young coaches in the game and will likely get a good gig soon as a defensive coordinator.
Safeties Coach: Terrell Buckley
T-Buck is a major asset on this coaching staff. He was very sought after by Florida State this offseason but like Brian Baker, he chose to be apart of this season. The coaches can feel something special here, and that is a big win for us this upcoming season.
Special Teams Coach: Joey Jones
Joey Jones coached that South Alabama team that… well… you know broke our hearts. He coached there for 9 years, and was very successful. Now he is in charge of our special teams, and under him, it seems that our special teams are finally coming together.
Players to Watch:
Kylin Hill- The dude is a freaking ball player. He is a beast. ‘Nough said.
Austin Williams- The wideouts have been iffy the last few years, but this year there are a couple of really solid ones. An underrated guy who could make some noise? Redshirt Sophomore Austin Williams.
Tommy Stevens- I don’t think that Tommy comes here to sit on the bench. I think Moorhead could use two QBs but Stevens is the man. And he loves our website and Metallica. So we love him. That is all.
Mark McLaurin- After having the game of his life in the bowl game, he should be ready to be a crucial player and leader on this defense. A ball hawking safety does wonders for this defense, but even more so for setting up a strong offense.
Jace Christmann- The MVP of last years team is good ‘ole Jace Christmann. The man has a golden leg and if he kicks a game winner this year, he has my vote for Heisman. I will have a 4-7 jersey by the end of the year.
This will be the 124th season in Mississippi State Football history and its 105th in Davis Wade Stadium (2nd oldest of FBS stadiums). Coach Moorhead is going to be heading into his second season as head coach, and he is the 32nd head coach in program history. Currently the program has 563 wins in school history, and 13 overall bowl game victories.
Top People to follow: Brett Hudson (@Brett_Hudson), Tyler Horka (@tbhorka), Noah Mashburn (@Noah_Mashburn), Justin Strawn (@JustinMStrawn), Ethan Lee (@leeethanj), Steven Robertson (@ScoutSteveR), Brian Hadad (@brianhadad), Tru Maroon Nation (@TruMaroonNation), Robbie Faulk (@robbiefaulk247), Matt Wyatt (@RadioWyatt), Brandon Walker (@BWalker_SEC), Bob Carskadon (@bobcarsladon), and of course For Whom the Cowbell Tolls (@mstatesports).
Hashtags: #HailState, #MoorCowbell, #MoorWins, #AlwaysRunNeverPass, #ChristmannForHeisman, #JaceTheAce, #IMade99PercentOfTheseUp
Places to Eat:
After doing a twitter poll last year, I learned a good bit about where State fans like to eat. Here are the places that won the “Go-To-Place” for the upcoming season:
Breakfast: Starkville Café
Lunch: Bulldog Burger
Dinner: Two Brothers
Celebration Station: Bin 612
Must-Do’s on Game Day Weekend:
While in Starkville, there is so much to do. The top three must things to do in Starkville while visiting for game day are the following:
Tailgating- If you are coming to Starkville, you have to have a Junction experience. Home to the best BBQ that no one knows about, if you don’t do this… did you even go to the game?
Go to The Lodge- You are not a real State fan if you do not have something (or 30 million somethings) from The Lodge. It is like Mississippi State heaven. If you haven’t been, go. You will not regret visiting this little piece of maroon heaven.
Find a State Mural- One of the popular picture spots in Starkville is the many murals that depict all things Mississippi State. All these bricks walls have gotten real pretty lately with incredible State inspired art work. You have to find them… what else would you post on the ‘Gram.
What to Wear:
Hottest Ticket of the Season:
Every ticket is a hot ticket every season, but as we all know success brings continuous sell outs. This season we have some huge games at home, but none bigger than when LSU comes to town. It was very hard to choose this game over the Alabama game, but Mississippi State could (very big emphasis on could) but undefeated going into a home game against LSU. Mississippi State has played LSU close in recent years, and pummeled them the last time they visited Starkvegas. Starkville will be rocking and it’ll be a game you won’t want to miss. The cowbells will be ringing and the pads will be popping... be there.
This season will be one of the more exciting seasons and unexpected years in recent memory. I think Tommy Stevens is better than advertised and so is this team. I think this team surprises a good bit of people and we have a really good year. We have a chance at pulling a couple of upsets and if Joe Moorhead and company get in an offensive groove, this team could be actually pretty good. Joe Mo can bring this program into national light, much of which it hasn’t had before. Here is to a year full of cowbells, victories, and sellout crowds. Hail State!