Mississippi State Football Preview
After losing so many key starters and having three 1st round draft picks in 2019, this past season was a rebuilding one for Mississippi State. With head coach Joe Moorhead they ran into some trouble early on and there was clearly a culture issue there after disciplinary actions needed to be taken place early in the season. The team has moved on with Moorhead and brought in another offensive coach, Mike Leach. Leach comes from Washington State and will bring the air raid back to the SEC. They’ve revamped their roster with more upperclassmen and brought in a few big-time transfers this offseason.
In 2019 Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader held down the QB position. Stevens is now with the Saints and Shrader is still there after playing decently well for a freshman QB in the SEC. Now in the air raid offense, they bring in K.J Costello from Stanford. Costello had a rough season last year. He dealt with injuries throughout and when he was on the field, he wasn’t good to begin with. In previous seasons he proved to have the arm talent necessary to at least get the attention of draft fans. In his final year, he’ll have to prove to be consistent to develop any sort of draft stock.
Kylin Hill has been the man now at running back for the past few seasons. Hill recently took a stance and refused to play unless changes were made in the state. With the platform he has, Hill’s request was taken seriously, and changes were made, rightfully so. Hill declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, but opted out near the end. He is one of the top talents at the position in the conference. In Leach’s offense he’ll have plenty of opportunity to improve his game as a pass catcher. He’s already such an aggressive, powerful runner with a great physical skill set, but he needs to improve his vision and receiving skills to be atop the RB class. Freshman Lee Witherspoon could get reps sparingly behind Hill.
There is going to be a big adjustment for these Mississippi State receivers getting used to the Leach offense. It is a very solid group coming back even though they didn’t have the stats last season. Osiris Mitchell is the leading receiver coming back for the Bulldogs. Caleb Ducking and JaVonta Payton are also back along with Austin Williams. Tyrell Shavers recently transferred in from Alabama. Shavers has 2 years of eligibility left and has eye-popping physical numbers at 6’6” 205 and has reportedly ran a 4.38.
The tight ends weren’t a big part of the offense in 2019 and probably won’t be again this year as they’ll be in a lot of 10 personnel. Dontae Jones and Geor’quarius Spivey will again be the 2 primary guys at the tight end spot. Last year they combined for 9 catches. The position just won’t be a big part of the offense.
This offensive line unit is one that could see a lot of movement this season. Dareuan Parker and LaQuinston Sharp are veterans that will slot in on the interior of the offensive line and will hopefully be the most stable pieces of the unit. Cole Smith could be the third piece that will join them on the interior as a Redshirt Sophomore. Scott Lashley is another Alabama transfer that will come to Starkville, he’ll be in the rotation at tackle along with Greg Eiland and freshman, Charles Cross.
Now with a faster paced offense, the Bulldogs defense is going to be on the field a lot more. The defensive line rotation could run fairly deep. Marquiss Spencer and Kobe Jones are Seniors who will step up on the d-line and will look to lead a group that will be looking for some guys to step up. Nathan Pickering and Jordan Davis will also be in the mix on the d-line.
Erroll Thompson is the big name when it comes to the NFL draft on this defense. Thompson is a multi-year starter for the Bulldogs. He has a stocky build to him listed at 6’0” 254 and played on a couple of great defenses. He’ll be joined by Aaron Brule and Tre Lawson at linebacker.
The secondary is bound to be the youngest unit on the team next season. They’ll need to replace Cameron Dantzler, Brian Cole II, and Jaquarius Landrews. C.J. Morgan is a fifth-year senior at safety but hasn’t seen much first team action. Marcus Murphy appears to be the favorite to start at the other safety spot with Landon Guidry also in the mix. Tyler Williams will have to step up at corner with true freshman, Martin Emerson at the other corner spot. Fred Peters is a former JUCO transfer and he’ll replace Brian Cole in the nickel role.