Knowing The Enemy
Opponent: Mississippi State
Record: 1-0 overall
The Mississippi State Bulldogs will host the Purple and Gold this Saturday, with a win over Southern Mississippi on their record. The Bulldogs did not show too much against the Eagles last Saturday. If that was intentional, it remains to be seen. Southern Mississippi held up well against MSU in the stat sheets, including controlling the ball for 37 minutes. The Bulldogs used some big plays to win the game.
Mississippi State lost a lot of players after the 2014 season. Seven starters return, four on offense and three on defense.
The big name, of course, on offense, is senior quarterback Dak Prescott. He should be no stranger to the Purple and Gold, after terrorizing their defense for the past two seasons. In the game against Southern Miss last week, Prescott accounted for 309 of the team’s 442 total yards. He was 22 of 38 passing for 237 yards and a touchdown. Prescott rushed for 72 yards and a TD. He accounted for three of the team’s touchdowns. Junior DeRunya Wilson, a huge receiver at 6’5, and returning starter, caught one pass last week. It is a good bet he will see more thrown his
way Saturday. Junior Fred Ross, who saw a lot of action last season had five receptions for 75 yards last week.
The Bulldogs lost running back Josh Robinson, to the NFL. He would have been a senior. Last week sophomores Ashton Shumpert and Brandon Holloway played in the backfield.
On the offensive line, senior left guard Justin Malone and junior right tackle Justin Senior return for the 2015 season.
MSU lost eight starters on defense last year. The most notable losses were linebacker Benardrick McKinney, and defensive linemen Preston Smith and P.J. Jones. Junior linebacker Beniquez Brown, a returning starter, had 62 tackles last season, second on the team.
It is important to note, even though Mississippi State lost a lot of starters on defense, they return many players, especially on the defensive line, with plenty of playing experience. Senior Ryan Brown is a returning starter but juniors Nelson Adams, A.J. Jefferson, and Chris Jones have a lot of playing experience.
Last week the Bulldog secondary was riddled for 311 yards and two touchdowns against Southern Mississippi.
It has been a long time since the Purple and Gold opened the season with a league game. Like all conference games, this one is a big contest. On paper the Tigers are the better team, but as the old adage goes, games are not played on paper.