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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Florida v Mississippi State Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Down in the Bayou against LSU.

I know it is hard to believe, but Southeastern Conference football is about to begin the 2020 season with a 10-game schedule that includes all SEC matchups. This year is going to be a tough test for Mississippi State with a new head coach, and yeah, another defensive coordinator bringing in a new defensive scheme, again. Unlike years past, the Bulldogs will not get a chance to break in the offense and new defense with a couple of non-conference games. Nope, this season is all hands on deck, and like the Kentucky Derby, you barely get in the gateand you’re off running. So yes, this year is going to be full of surprises in both a good and bad way. We just have to wait and see just how good or how bad those will be. With that being said, let’s talk Hail State football with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly for Week 1 against LSU

The GOOD!

Well for starters, this will be the first game of the season for LSU as well, and after a great nation title campaign season in 2019, LSU is fielding a fairly new team all around. The Tigers have lost key players on both sides of the ball, most notably Joe Burrow, last year’s Heisman trophy winner and national champion offensive MVP. It is common to replace key offensive players each year, but not like this. Burrow was a game-changer 2019, and the Tigers will feel his absence on Saturday.

In addition to losing their starting quarterback, LSU lost a total of nine veteran starters from last year and a total of 30 overall players from the 2019 roster. That is a heck of a lot to replace in this day and time playing in the SEC. To that fact, we have no idea what type of offense the Tigers will put on the field and how well they will execute. Will the passing game be anything near the 2019 team had to offer, or will they have to focus more on the run game this season? Unfortunately, we will have to wait until Saturday to find out, but I am optimistic there will be some offensive issues for LSU and hoping the Bulldogs can capitalize on them.

Over all, State is bringing back some experience and some young talent to the field. In my opinion I see a better pass defense in 2020 than in the previous two seasons. The return of safety Fred Peters, safety Marcus Murphy and cornerback Martin Emerson brings some experience to the defensive back field. The defense will be anchored by a strong returning linebackers corps lead by Errol Thompson. This defensive backfield could be special in 2020.

Here is little fun fact that you may or may not know, in 2014 when the Bulldogs went into Tiger stadium and defeated the No. 8-ranked Tigers, 34-29, the score did not tell the story of the game as State controlled both sides of the ball the entire game. This was the first time in the history of Tiger stadium to reach max capacity. On that day, the stadiums reached 102,321 for the first time, and we put some whoop ass on them that day in front of their largest crowd ever to date. Now, let’s move to Saturday. I guarantee when Bulldogs take the field in Baton Rouge on Saturday, it will be the smallest crown ever in Tiger stadium. Time to Whoop That!!!!

BAD!!

I have heard nothing but positive comments about the Air Raid offense and how the players love the new system. In addition to the positive comments, the Bulldogs have a fully stocked backfield lead by senior running back Kylin Hill and graduate transfer quarterback K.J. Costello. But, I am a little hesitant to jump on board because I have heard this before with different coaches and some different players. I am skeptical at best with how the Air Raid offense will play out on the field in the SEC. I do believe that Mike Leach is a much better head coach than his predecessor, but the truth remains that new offenses and defenses take time to develop and a few games to identify and fix issues.

I am very curious to see this new Defense and how it transitions from San Diego State to the trenches of the SEC. I must admit, I am not a firm believer that Coach Zach Arnett will be able to maintain the No. 1 run defense with this system in this conference. This defensive system requires a lot of attention to detail and identifying adjustable assignments through motions and shifts. I feel the first few games will be major learning points and could cost us a win or two, maybe more. I hope I am 100% wrong on this one.

The Ugly

If there is one thing you don’t want to lose before the first game of the season, that is some of the big boys up front on our offensive line. And that is exactly what happened this week. Scott Lashley, the Alabama transfer, sustained a serious knee injury and is expected to miss the entire season. So, it looks like Coach Leach will be making some adjustments to that void moving forward.

How about this, is it just me or did anyone else find it hard to believe that after already having 10-ranked Texas A&M, No. 8 Auburn and 23rd-ranked Kentucky on our home schedule, we now have to add 4th-ranked Georgia to our travel schedule that already had No. 2 Alabama and No. 6 LSU. That is six top-25 teams, with five of them in the top-10. Here’s what’s scary about it. We don’t even have the toughest schedule in the SEC.

That’s Ugly, and I mean Ugggggly!

HAIL STATE and Go Dawgs!!!