Mississippi State Bulldogs
2008 CFN Mississippi
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2007 CFN Mississippi
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Mississippi State Preview
State turn a corner, or was 2007's 8-5 season, complete with a
scintillating (zzzzzzzzzzz) 10-3 Liberty Bowl win over UCF the
Head coach: Sylvester Croom
5th year: 17-30
Off. 20, Def. 24, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 19
Best Bulldog Players
1. FS/KR Derek Pegues, Sr.
2. RB Anthony Dixon, Jr.
3. LB Jamar Chaney, Sr.
4. LB Dominic Douglas, Sr.
5. OG Anthony Strauder, Sr.
6. DT Kyle Love, Jr.
7. DT Jessie Bowman, Sr.
8. RB Robert Elliott, RFr.
9. SS Keith Fitzhugh, Sr.
10. CB Marcus Washington, Jr.
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2008 Record: 0-0
30 at Louisiana Tech
Sept. 6 SE Louisiana
Sept. 13 Auburn
Sept. 20 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 27 at LSU
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE
Oct. 11 Vanderbilt
Oct. 18 at Tennessee
Oct. 25 Middle Tennessee
Nov. 1 Kentucky
Nov. 8 OPEN DATE
Nov. 15 at Alabama
Nov. 22 Arkansas
Nov. 28 at Ole Miss
CFN Prediction: 3-9
Sept. 15 at
Auburn W 19-14
Sept. 29 at So Carolina L 38-21
Tennessee L 33-21
West Virginia L 38-13
Kentucky W 31-14
Alabama W 17-12
Arkansas L 45-31
Miss W 17-14
Dec. 29 UCF W 10-3
Considering the program hadn't had a winning record in six years and
hadn't won more than three games in a season since 2000, there's reason
for Bulldog fans to get fired up. With a major-league pain-in-the-butt
defense, and an offense that did just enough to not screw up, MSU was
able to win, but not it needs far more to get to another level and
become a real, live challenger.
The defense is there. Loaded with returning veterans, and a few great,
underappreciated stars in Derek Pegues and Jamar Chaney, this is a very
aggressive, very good defense that will have its occasional issues with
the better offenses, but if you have a mediocre offense, you will be
Oh yeah, the offense. How MSU won eight games and a bowl with the
nation's 113th best offense is still a miracle, but there should be some
signs of life with a tremendous stable of running backs working behind a
veteran line. This won't be Texas Tech when it comes to moving the ball,
but the offense won't be a total and complete liability.
The biggest overall question will be how the Bulldogs handle the
expectations. This is no longer the SEC West's doormat. This is a good
enough team to step up and slug some decent teams in the mouth and come
up with an upset or three as they screw up someone's season. But MSU
wants to be more than just a spoiler.
If there's going to be a sleeper, and a deep, deep one, to come out of
the West, this would be the years. Alabama is still at least a year away
from hitting its stride under Nick Saban, Ole Miss and Arkansas are
retooling with new coaches, LSU is rebuilding, and Auburn is coming up
with a new offense. MSU has to take advantage, and if the offense is
better and the defense improves against the better teams, this could be
the big year MSU has been dreaming of for a long, long time.
What to watch for on offense: Is Wesley Carroll going to be any
better? Thrown to the wolves as a freshman, he threw for 421 yards and
four touchdown in the loss to Arkansas, but he also threw four
interceptions and finished with seven picks on the year. Closing out by
completing eight of 18 passes for 39 yards with an interception in the
win over UCF, which didn't exactly inspire confidence, but he'll need to
be a more efficient, more explosive passer if MSU is going to make any
What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. The line will be
strong thanks to a great pair of tackles, Kyle Love and Jessie Bowman,
and the linebackers will clean up everything that gets by. Seniors Jamar
Chaney and Dominic Douglas combined for 167 stops, while sophomore K.J.
Wright is a 6-3, 215-pound speedster on the strongside who might lead
the team in tackles. This should be the team's strength, if it's not the
running back corps.
The team will be far better if … it can generate more of a
pass rush. Getting into the backfield isn't a problem, the Bulldog D
finished first in the SEC in tackles for loss, but it was last in the
league in sacks, coming up with just 19. It's not like MSU is facing a
murderer's row of passing quarterbacks, in fact, it's possible that
Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton will be the best one it faces, but if
there could be more pressure on passing downs, the D will be even more
There are three killer road dates, at Georgia Tech, at LSU, and at
Tennessee, all before the end of October, but overall the schedule isn't
that bad getting Vanderbilt and Kentucky from the East and a snoozer of
a non-conference schedule, outside of the date with the Yellow Jackets,
playing at Louisiana Tech, SE Louisiana and Middle Tennessee. To improve
on last season's breakthrough campaign, there has to be a home win over
either Auburn or Arkansas, and there has to be another Egg Bowl win at
Ole Miss. An upset at Alabama would certainly help the cause, but after
last year's upset win, that could be a beartrap.
Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Anthony Dixon.
To say Dixon was the Bulldog offense is an understatement. All the 6-1,
240-pounder did was run for 1,066 yards and 14 touchdowns, and caught
two touchdown passes, despite being the total focus of every defensive
Best Defensive Player:
Derek Pegues. Is he an NFL safety? The 5-10, 196-pounder has the speed
and quickness, he's a top punt returner, and he's a fantastic tackler
and ball-hawker, but he's not a national name. He should be. He's the
star of the tremendous defense and the quarterback of the secondary. Job
one of every quarterback will be to know where No. 3 is.
Key player to a
Sophomore QB Wesley Carroll. All he needs to be is efficient. He won't
have to throw for 300 yards per game, and he won't have to carry the
offense, but if he keeps the chains moving, doesn't turn the ball over,
and comes up with a deep pass here and there, he'll get the job done.
The season will be a
... MSU wins ten games. Yes, the first 10-win season since 1999 is
possible with a not-that-bad schedule and a veteran team good enough to
be just a wee bit better. There are only two almost certain losses, at
LSU and at Tennessee, but everything else is in play. A nine-win regular
season, and a bowl win, would be a special season.
Sept. 13 vs. Auburn. In one of the shocking moments of the early 2007
SEC season, MSU beat Auburn 19-14 in Jordan-Hare. If the Bulldogs can
pull off another win over the Tigers in the SEC opener, it'll set the
tone for the rest of the year, and it could be a must-win with road
trips to Georgia Tech and LSU to follow.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Fourth down conversions: MSU 6 of 15 (40%) – Opponents 2 of 15 (13%)
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 94 – MSU 64
- Red zone scores: MSU 30 of 35 (86%) – Opponents 31 of 45 (69%)