Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Mississippi State Bulldogs season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Mississippi State Bulldogs
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Mississippi State Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
With no disrespect whatsoever to Dan Mullen, did Mississippi State just pull an upset in the coaching carousel battle?
Mullen’s job in Starkville was phenomenal. He took a mediocre program in the toughest division in college football – or No. 1A next to the Big Ten East – and managed to lead it to eight straight bowl games while going 69-46 during his tenure.
Slice and dice it all you want – he never beat Alabama, the Bulldogs only finished higher than fourth in the division once, blah, blah, blah – but he was obviously a tremendous hire who changed up everything. Before him, MSU went from 2001 to 2008 with only one winning season, and three victories or fewer in six of those campaigns.
But Joe Moorhead might just be an upgrade.
Of course, Moorhead is working off what was already built up, and he’s inheriting a heater, but he knows a little bit about taking tough situations and rocking right away, too.
He stepped into a rough situation at Fordham and instantly turned a one-win program into a winner, going 38-13 in his four years with three appearances in the FCS playoffs. And he did it by cranking up an unstoppable offensive attack.
He could’ve parlayed that into an FBS head coaching gig with a little more time, but instead he helped James Franklin turn Penn State into a powerhouse again, complete with a Big Ten championship.
But even though he was more than ready to take on a big gig, and even with his relatively high profile with the Nittany Lions – at least as much as he could have as an assistant – his hiring at Mississippi State flew under the radar.
Mullen’s move to Florida, Jimbo Fisher’s monster Texas A&M contract, and the Tennessee fiasco took center stage in the offseason SEC coaching world. UCLA getting Chip Kelly made a whole lot of noise, and Willie Taggart going to Florida State kicked up the headlines, all the while, Moorhead’s hiring was just another part of the coaching carousel season.
But just as much as Mullen going to Gainesville was the right move for the right coach for the right gig at the right time, Moorhead getting to work his magic with Mississippi State has the potential to be every bit as splashy, if not more so.
Of course Moorhead’s calling card is the offense, but he’s inheriting a whopper of a D, starting with a killer line led by Jeffery Simmons inside and Montez Sweat outside. The safeties are tremendous, the linebackers versatile, and the group that was so strong throughout last season has the talent to be even better.
The offense will rely on the healthy return of QB Nick Fitzgerald, but there’s a whole lot to like even if he’s not quite ready to be the exact same player right away.
Aeris Williams is a terrific back working behind one of the SEC’s better lines – four starters are back. The receivers might have been pedestrian last season, but Moorhead will bring back the downfield passing game, while operating at a quicker tempo to keep defenses on their heels.
Could this be just enough of a tweak to take MSU from very good to beat-Alabama-for-the-first-time-since-2007-and-be-a-true-player great? That might be asking for a little too much this year, but the program appears to have nailed another football head coaching hire.
So go ahead. You know you want to.
You have a fever, and the only prescription is #MoorheadCowbell.