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Mississippi State football: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

What the Bulldogs need to do in 2021, what they don’t need and what can’t happen in 2021!

NCAA Football: Armed Forces Bowl-Tulsa vs Mississippi State Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The wait is almost over with just two days left until Mississippi State hits the gridiron at Davis Wade Stadium, and I am sure I speak for many when I say I am so glad to get back to some college football.

The Bulldogs will be entering their second season under head coach Mike Leach, and hopefully with a complete year under his belt and a full spring season, Leach and the Bulldogs will be in a better position to compete in the Southeastern Conference West this season.

I believe this year will answer some serious questions about Coach Leach’s Air Raid offense now that everyone knows what to expect from his pass-heavy offense. There is no doubt the stakes are high for the second-year head coach, but I’m sure Coach Leach is more focused on Louisiana Tech at the moment. So. let’s talk Hail State football with, “The Good, the bad and the Ugly!”

I am going to discuss what Mississippi State needs, what Mississippi State doesn’t need and what can’t happen in 2021!

The GOOD/What Mississippi State needs!

This is easy. Last year, the Bulldogs came out of the gate and shocked the college football world with a major upset over the defending national champion LSU Tigers. This happened due to the fact that LSU did not watch any game film on Leach-coached teams. The Tigers acted like they had no idea his offense passed the ball nearly 80% of the time and were just not prepared.

But as we all saw, it took about five minutes for the rest of the teams Mississippi State played against to develop a plan of dropping eight into coverage and what do you know, the Bulldogs suddenly had less offense than Paul Finebaum on prom night. THAT’S BAD!!!

To be competitive this season, the offense has to be able to control the numbers. A defense can’t drop eight against a team that can run the ball, and that will be a key factor this season, a solid run game.

I’m not talking about a 50/50 split because that will never happen in Leach’s offense, but enough that keeps the middle defense focused on the run game the whole game. The run game is essential to a successful 2021 season.

BAD/What Mississippi State doesn’t need!

Last year, Mississippi State did a really poor job of protecting the quarterback, and it just seemed like Mississippi State was not prepared up front to perform this task.

This season, the Bulldogs will have to control the line and give quarterback Will Rogers, who I project as the team’s starter, the time to find his receiver. In addition, the run game will also help in reducing the amount of blitzes from off the ends and up the middle, which really killed the Bulldogs towards the end of the 2020 season. Mississippi State cannot allow its opponents to control the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball if the Bulldogs are going to have a winning season.

The Ugly/What can’t happen!

Last season, Mississippi State turned the ball over way too many times. The Bulldogs averaged 1.6 turnovers per game through the air and 2.4 in total, not to mention the fumbles on the ground, a total of seven.

The Bulldogs must control the ball better, both through the air and on the ground this season to have a winning season and reach another bowl game. I do believe that the amount of turnovers will go down with Rogers having a year under his belt. State must limit the amount of turnovers in 2021.

Predicted Week 1 score:

MSU: 31

Louisiana Tech: 17