Mississippi State Bulldogs College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Mississippi State Bulldogs Biggest Key: Offense
There are a few here. There have to be more third down conversions, a downfield passing game has to develop, and even though it’s a Mike Leach offense and the running attack is along for the ride, there’s enough talent in the backfield to hand the ball off a wee bit more. However …
Stop with the turnovers.
To be very, very fair, KJ Costello had the biggest issue with interceptions and he’s not a part of the mix anymore. Also, it was a young team trying to learn a new quick-timing offense without the normal time to get up to speed. This is what happens when you don’t have a full and normal offseason.
Also, to be fair, the turnovers did slow down.
After giving it up 18 times in the first five games, there weren’t any giveaways in three of the last six including the bowl win over Tulsa. However, the interceptions kicked back in against Auburn and Missouri, but the Bulldogs were helped against the Mizzou Tigers by more mistakes from the other side.
MSU won the turnover battle three times in the last six games. It won all three.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Biggest Key: Defense
Get the pass rush up and going. The run defense was fantastic, and the team wasn’t bad at getting into the backfield. However, it didn’t do it on a regular basis.
The Mississippi State defense wore LSU quarterback Myles Brennan as a hat in the opener – he still threw for way over 300 yards when he wasn’t getting bounced around – and it dominated Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl win. However, of the 25 sacks on the year, 12 came in those two games.
There were 13 sacks in the nine games in between, and more than that, the sacks slowed down in the regular season with just eight in the final seven games before the bowl.
This is more nitpicking than any sort of a real problem, but now with the experienced back eight returning and the linebackers who know what they’re doing, the pressure should be cranked up.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Will Rogers, Soph.
The defense is good, the rest of the offensive parts are going to be better, but the quarterback play has to go from mediocre to great.
The 6-2, 205-pound Rogers was thrown into a crazy situation.
He committed to Mississippi State way before Mike Leach was even a thought to take over the gig, got thrown to the wolves in the third game of the season after KJ Costello struggled, and he did the best he could to push through the offense’s issues.
He hit a ton of short passes, showed plenty of promise, and was relatively careful throwing picks, but now it has to all click.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Key Game To The 2021 Season
Ole Miss, Nov. 25
Rivalry games have an outsized importance and tend to overshadow the good and the bad of any season. However, the Egg Bowl is back on Thanksgiving and it’s the last game of the regular season for both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
Mississippi State almost certainly isn’t going to need this to get bowl eligible, so the game can stand on its own as a very, very, big moment for the respective fan bases with no real implications outside of the bragging rights.
No matter how good Mike Leach’s second season is, losing to Lane Kiffin for a second year in a row would be tough.
2020 Mississippi State Bulldogs Fun Stats
– Fumbles: Opponents 12 (lost 7) – Miss State 7 (lost 7)
– Sacks: Opponents 34 for 240 yards – Miss State 25 for 145 yards
– Average Yards Per Pass: Opponents 7.4 – Opponents 5.9