2013 Mississippi State Spring Analysis
Mississippi State Bulldogs 2013 ... Head Coach: Dan Mullen
Why To Be Excited ... This might not seem like a positive, but the pressure is off. Of course, the pressure is always on in the SEC, especially on the coaches, but all of the focus this offseason will be on Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M, the two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide, the coaching changes at Arkansas and Auburn, and the big recruiting class and the excitement around Ole Miss. Mississippi State was hot a few years ago, but a few average seasons has killed the buzz. Now Dan Mullen and the coaching staff can honestly fire out the Nobody Believes In Us mantra, because it’s actually true. However, with four starters back on an offensive line that was terrific in pass protection, and with three starters back on the defensive front, and with the return of quarterback Tyler Russell and punter Baker Swedenberg, there are some excellent pieces to build around.
| 2013 Schedule|
8/31 Oklahoma State (in Houston)
9/7 Alcorn State
9/14 at Auburn
9/28 OPEN DATE
10/12 Bowling Green
10/19 OPEN DATE
11/2 at South Carolina
11/9 at Texas A&M
11/23 at Arkansas
11/30 Ole Miss
Why To Be Grouchy ... The secondary will be an early concern, especially with Oklahoma State up first to kickoff the season on August 31st in Houston. Johnthan Banks should’ve been in the NFL last year, and fellow corner Darius Slay will be making some big bank this year, too. Throw in safety Corey Broomfield, and all of a sudden the Bulldog pass defense that was a positive at times has some major problems. Safety Nickoe Whitley is the lone returning starter in the defensive backfield, but juniors Dee Arrington and Jay Hughes, along with JUCO transfer Justin Cox, should provide some instant help. Offensively, the passing game needs receivers after losing Chad Bumphis, Chris Smith, Arceto Clark and tight end Marcus Green.
What Needs Working On ... The pass rush has to be stronger. There weren’t nearly enough plays in the backfield against the better teams, and the pass rush was non-existent for long stretches. Kaleb Eulls is more like a 3-4 tackle than a true pass rushing end, and Denico Autry has to do more after coming up with four sacks. Preston Smith is set to do more at one end after leading the team with 4.5 sacks, but it’s going to take plays in the backfield from several spots to improve the record after generating more than one sack in just six games.
Non-Conference Games: Oklahoma State, Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green
Games Against The East: Kentucky, at South Carolina
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 6-6
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Oklahoma State, Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Ole Miss
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Auburn, LSU, at South Carolina, at Texas A&M, Alabama, at Arkansas
Schedule Analysis: Can the Bulldogs beat anyone with a pulse? They couldn’t last year, fattening up on the easy teams on the schedule and losing to the good ones, but they’ll have a shot to make up for it right away in Houston against Oklahoma State. The rest of the first half of the season has to be great –starting SEC play at Auburn and needing to beat Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green and Kentucky - considering the second half is a bear.
Even with LSU to deal with early on, the wins need to pile up with a stretch of three road games in four weeks after hosting Kentucky. Getting the Wildcats from the East is a break, but going to South Carolina the next week makes up for it. That’s followed up by a trip to Texas A&M, and home game against Alabama and a trip to Arkansas. A bowl game could come down to the Egg Bowl rivalry against Ole Miss.
Team Concerns For 2013: The Bulldogs have to be better against the stronger teams going 8-0 against teams that didn't go bowling and 0-5 against the ones that got an extra game. The offense fizzled when it came to the big games getting beaten by double digits in all the losses. The pass rush was miserable, finishing last in the SEC in sacks and second-to-last in tackles for loss. The running game needs to be stronger - again, against the better teams - while the passing attack could stand to be more efficient. Personnel-wise, the secondary takes the biggest hit losing three starters.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Receivers. The Bulldogs need more pop and explosion, and getting quarterback Cord Sandberg is a nice start. Running back Ashton Shumpert is more of a pounder, but receivers
Fred Ross, Donald Gray, De'Runnya Wilson and R.J. Hammond are big and
can move. Defensive end Chris Jones is the best prospect in the class, and Jake Thomas is an eventual starting offensive tackle. JUCO transfer Justin Cox will start right away in a secondary that loses three good starters. Safety Kivon Coman and linebacker Dezmond Harris are the type of under-the-radar players that Dan Mullen always seems to turn into players.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
23. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. You don’t have a chance in the SEC without a strong defensive front, and MSU is getting one. The Bulldogs lose two key playmakers up front, including tackle Fletcher Cox, and an upgrade is needed for 2013 and beyond. Head coach Dan Mullen is getting a slew of interesting pass rushers and a few terrific tackles to make the line a strength.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 41. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. It wasn’t a great overall class considering the killers the rest of the league kept up with, but there are some nice gets like WR Joe Morrow and running backs Josh Robinson and Derek Milton. The secondary got the most help with 6-2, 200-pound Dee Arrington a potential All-SEC safety and Zachary Johnson a fast, promising hitter. JUCO transfer corner Darius Slay should see time right away, while Justin Cox is a big, fast defender who can play anywhere in the secondary.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 40. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Running back. Dan
Mullen got the receivers for his offense last year,
and this year he worked on the ground game with 6-8,
330-pound Damien Robinson one of the nation's top
offensive tackle recruits to go along with four
running backs to try to replace Anthony Davis.
Matthew Wells is the best of the lot, but JUCO
transfer Vick Ballard might make the most immediate
impact with a physical style and good quickness.
Nick Griffin and Jay Hughes could've been toting the
rock at several other big name schools. Defensively,
6-7, 370-pound James Carmon and 6-4, 330-pound
Jeffrey Howie are massive JUCO transfers brought in
to clog things up right away, while Kaleb Eulls, an
end, is one of the best players in the class.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 22. That Class Was
Heavy On ... receivers. What do you get a team that’s been among the worst in America in passing over the last few years? Targets. Tyler Russell was a must-get quarterback for new head coach Dan Mullen to develop over the next year or two, and he needs guys to throw to. Seven receiver prospects were brought in with JUCO transfers Maurice Langston and Leon Berry looking to add help right away. Chad Bumphis is the best prospect of the lot.