2007 Mississippi State Preview

Posted Jul 30, 2007

Preview 2007 Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 MSU Offense Preview | 2007 MSU Defense Preview
2007 MSU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Mississippi State Preview 

Since 2000, when Mississippi State won eight games and a snowy Independence Bowl over Texas A&M, the team has won three games in each of five years, and just two in 2003. However, if it’s possible to be an impressive 3-9 team, MSU did that last season and provided just enough hope to think Sylvester Croom could eventually turn things around and make the program respectable again.

Head coach: Sylvester Croom
4th year: 9-25
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 18, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 22
Ten Best Bulldog Players
1. FS/KR Derek Pegues, Jr.
2. DE Titus Brown, Sr.
3. RB Anthony Dixon, Soph.
4. TE Eric Butler, Sr.
5. LB Jamar Chaney, Jr.
6. LB Gabe O'Neal, Sr.
7. OT Mike Brown, Jr.
8. SS De'Mon Glanton, Jr.
9. DT Cortez McCraney, Jr.
10. WR Tony Burks, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 3-9

Aug. 30


Sept. 8

at Tulane

Sept. 15

at Auburn

Sept. 22


Sept. 29

at South Carolina

Oct. 6


Oct. 13


Oct. 20

at West Virginia

Oct. 27

at Kentucky

Nov. 10


Nov. 17

at Arkansas

Nov. 24

Ole Miss

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record: 3-
Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 South Carolina L 15-0
9/9 Auburn L 34-0
9/16 Tulane L 32-29
9/23 at UAB W 16-10 OT
9/30 at LSU L 48-17
10/7 West Virginia L 42-14
10/14 Jacksonville St W 35-3
10/21 at Georgia L 27-24
10/28 Kentucky L 34-31
11/4 at Alabama W 24-16
11/18 Arkansas L 28-14
11/25 at Ole Miss L 20-17

Over the final six games of last year, MSU won two, lost to Georgia, Kentucky and Ole Miss by three points each, and lost to Arkansas (no shame there).  The Bulldogs displayed an improved but inconsistent offense, thanks to the emergence of Michael Henig and the passing game, and a defense that did the best it could when the offense bogged down. 

While that’s all well and good, MSU is still a million miles from being within sniffing distance of SEC West contention, and still has a long way to go before going to a bowl game. Even though the offense got a few big performances from Henig and has the potential for a strong 1-2 rushing punch with Anthony Dixon and new recruit Robert Elliott, it’s asking a lot for a major jump in production after averaging around 280 yards and 16 points per game over the last two seasons.  

Making matters worse, the defense, which has carried the team lately, has to replace far too many key contributors, especially on the defensive front, including heart-and-soul linebacker Quinton Culberson. In other words, the defense is going to slip a wee bit and the offense isn’t going to make enough of a jump to pick up the slack. 

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, everyone will take them lightly. It’ll be a shock if anyone picks them to finish any higher than last in the West, so they could jump up and surprise a team or two if everything breaks the right way. No matter what happens, MSU needs more production, more wins, and more hope for the future, or there will be a new head man trying to rebuild with Croom’s decent recruits.

What to watch for on offense: A steadier dose of running. The weapons just aren’t there to get the passing yards MSU needs to compete in the SEC, and the more the offense can control the ball and keep its defense off the field, the better. In Dixon and Elliott, the Bulldogs have two talented backs with the potential to make MSU look like Arkansas when it comes to hitting home runs. With four starters returning up front, averaging 150 rushing yards a game might be a must.

What to watch for on defense: Bending, but not a whole bunch of breaking. This isn’t going to be a defense that brings players from a variety of angles to generate pressure. The hope is for the front four to get into the backfield, and the back seven to get the job done. With several big personnel losses, this defense won’t gamble too much, but it should be decent at limiting the big plays.

The team will be far better if … there’s more production from the punting game. The last thing a struggling offense and a tired defense needs is bad field position, and while punt returns aren’t a problem thanks to Derek Pegues, punter Blake McAdams has to get more boom on his kicks. MSU finished last in the SEC, averaging 31.7 net punting yards per game, and once in a while, there must be a game-changing type of kick that bails the team out of a jam.

The Schedule: There are only six home games, an interesting mix of nasty games (but chances to make a statement) against LSU, Tennessee and Alabama and three must-wins against Jacksonville State, UAB and Ole Miss. Beating Tulane on the road is a must, given the tough away games (including a non-conference date at West Virginia). On the plus side, MSU misses Florida and Georgia from the East, but it has to deal with Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore RB Anthony Dixon. With 240-pound size, breakaway speed, and decent moves, he can be the type of workhorse running back to carry the offense and add more pop to the ground game. He came on at the end of last year, and now should be a 100-yard runner waiting to happen early on.

Best Defensive Player: Junior FS Derek Pegues. One of the team’s most dangerous players with the ball in his hands, Pegues has scored two career touchdowns off interceptions and will be the team’s lock-down corner on everyone’s number one. He’s also a tremendous kickoff returner.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Michael Henig. He’s not accurate, he’s not a winner quite yet, and he doesn’t have much in the way of skills, but he’s the quarterback the coaching staff will go with, hoping he can do just enough to give the Bulldogs some semblance of a passing game. If he’s awful, the MSU offense will be, too.

The season will be a success if ... MSU wins five games. That might not sound like much, but considering the program hasn’t won more than three games since 2000, getting five would be a nice step forward. It’s an attainable goal, with likely wins over Tulane, Jacksonville State and UAB to count on, to go along with the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss at home. An upset along the way against a possible bowl-bound team is also a must.

Key game: Nov. 10 vs. Alabama. By mid-November, MSU’s young team needs to be fully jelled on both sides of the ball, and after pulling the upset over the Tide last year, could use a win at home to show that things are still improving and involving in the Croom era.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 90; Mississippi State 28
- Average yards per rush: Opponents 3.4; Mississippi State 2.9
- Penalties: Opponents 75 for 657 yards; Mississippi State 66 for 623 yards


Related Stories
2007 Mississippi State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Mississippi State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Mississippi State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007

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