Bulldogs Dialed In
No repeat of last years opener
- What: Mississippi State vs Charleston Southern
- When: 3 p.m.
- Where: Starkville, MS
- How to watch: SEC Network
Mississippi State won’t look past their opening game this year. After their stunning last second loss in the opener last year against South Alabama, Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen won’t hold anything back to send a statement to the rest of the SEC: the predictions of MSU’s last place finish in the SEC are just as wrong this year as they have been in years past.
With Junior signal caller Nick Fitzgerald coming in to this season as the man at quarterback after leading the SEC in total offense last year, the second year starter will try to lead a more balanced offensive attack for the Bulldogs by not carrying as much of the load and utilizing his stable of capable running backs. Look for the Bulldogs to use heavy doses of Aeris Williams, who really came on running the ball over the second half of last year.
On the defensive side of the ball, MSU hopes to be vastly improved under first year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who took over a defense that ranked near the bottom of the nation last year giving up over 450 yards and 31 points per game. They will be led in the trenches by nose guard Jeffery Simmons and a very talented linebacker core, paced by Leo Lewis and Gerri Green.
An Achilles heel over the last few years for MSU has been the play of their special teams, and the word out of Starkville is that State has great confidence in first year kicker Tucker Day.
Critical keys to Victory
MSU will rely heavily on the 1-2 punch of Fitzgerald and Williams, but the real path to victory in this game and for success over the course of this season will be the development of the Mississippi State offensive line, which will beled by left tackle Martinas Rankin. Rankin will get a good test in his first game as he goes against Charleston Southern’s Anthony Ellis who is one of the top players in FCS and one of the best edge rushers in all of college football while Rankin has been rated by several publications as a potential All-SEC caliber offensive lineman.
Mississippi State will have a good test against a good FCS team that returns several key contributors from last years squad. The depth an size advantage of the Bulldogs will come in to play, as their offensive and defensive lines will have huge advantages in the trenches. If Fitzgerald wants to have the type of year that he expects from himself, this game will be a key indicator. We fully expect that to be the case, as MSU easily handles their opening game. We predict a final score of 41-24, with MSU holding advantages at every position on the field and led by the second most tenured coach in the SEC. Anything less than a commanding performance will be a shock.