The lights, the hype, the swag… For the first time in years, you can feel something special brewing in Starkville. It feels like Starkvegas. There is a perfect mix of everything you want in a SEC Contender in this team. State has depth, speed, a great coaching staff, a mobile and experienced quarterback, and a lot of returning starters. Here is a look at something about everything that is anything you need to know for this upcoming season:
vs. SF Austin
Preview: Mississippi State will open the season at home versus a typical cupcake game, but do not sleep on SFA. With a new coaching staff, and some new faces on the offensive line, it should be a big win, and a good time to work out any kinks before a must tougher game against K-State.
Predicted Result: W, 49-7
@ Kansas State
Preview: Going into Manhattan against Master Bill Snyder might be one of the biggest trap games of the college football seasons. It is a tough game, especially as an early afternoon game. Overall, Mississippi State, especially in the trenches, should be able to overpower the Wildcats and later on in the game. I think it will be a much closer games than many people predict.
Predicted Result: W, 27-20
Preview: The Ragin’ Cajuns are not a team to be slept on, just like the other teams before them. We are in a day in age where the little teams routinely knock off the big teams, so no team should be taken lightly. A big advantage will be that the Cajuns do not have a game the week before they play State, and they play Grambling for the opener. That means that the team might be a little tight and not ready for a physical team like ours. I think this is a tight game at first, but State wins this one running away.
Predicted Result: W, 42-17
Preview: Kentucky should be bringing a 2-1 record, at least, and could even surprise a few people by bringing a 3-0 record to Week 4 of the season. Kentucky is consistently improving and has a good coach in Mark Stoops, and it being a road trip makes this game a little more competitive than normal.
Predicted Result: W, 31-17
Preview: The Game. Maybe one of the most anticipated games in recent history for this program. The Mississippi State players will have much more to play for, much more energy, much more talented, and a much better coach. I think this game is one for the ages, goes down to the wire, Christmann for the win.
Predicted Result: W, 27-24
Preview: This is going to be a game. The first ranked vs ranked matchup of the season for State. Regardless of rankings, these two always play a good game against each other. This is a much more interesting matchup for me because of the change in offense. State will shift to a different version of the spread that should matchup well with Auburn’s defense. This is a toss up game for me, but it is at home and will most likely be a night game. Those two give a slight edge to the Dawgs, and State just barely scratch by the Tigers.
Predicted Result: W, 28-27
Preview: An away game in Death Valley is never an easy task, but Coach O just does not seem like the guy to make these group of Tigers scary again. With Guice and Fournette gone, this team won’t be able to rely on handoffs to win games. They are mediocre at best in the SEC. State wins pretty easily.
Predicted Result: 24-7
vs. Texas A&M
Preview: This might be the biggest question mark on the schedule to me. I do not really know what Texas A&M will be this year. They got a major upgrade at HC, but they have a big question mark at QB. Part of me feels 6-6, part of me feels 9-3. They play Clemson, Bama, and South Carolina before they even get to State, so they will be much better than there record suggests when they likely drop those 3 games. This game is a home game for us, so again it would be hard to pick against us at home. Another nail bitter, but we hang on.
Predicted Result: W, 31-27
vs. LA Tech
Preview: A perfect break in the middle of the brutal SEC West. Mississippi State plays good, safe and gets a much needed rest.
Predicted Result: 38-7
Preview: An undefeated battle. College Gameday will be in Tuscaloosa. SEC on CBS. The whole shebang. Mississippi State matches up with Alabama better than anyone in the SEC besides Georgia. Last year we took them to the wire. But that was in Starkville. I think Mississippi State hangs in there throughout the game, and if this game is at home, State might win. But Alabama wins this one at the buzzer.
Predicted Result: L, 28-21
Preview: Arkansas is going to be a much better squad this year than the last few. I think Coach Morris is not a homerun hire, but is a guy who will be Dan Mullen like for the program. If State is 10-1 like I predict at this point, this is a huge trap game. The Razorbacks play the Dawgs good every year, with a crazy ending happening in favor of the Dawgs. The football gods might want to bless the Hogs if they play it close, so State needs to put this game away by the half. I still think Dawgs win, but I would not like to see this game close in the final 5 minutes.
Predicted Result: W, 21-17
@ Ole Miss
Preview: Mississippi State will be on upset watch for another week when they go in to Oxford. Ole Miss will have nothing to lose and the Dawgs will be Top 10 in the country. Having Nick back this year will help out and the trophy will be coming back to Starkville, but not without a little drama.
Predicted Result: W, 42-35 OT
Overall Season Record: 11-1
Team MVP: Nick Fitzgerald
To me, this is a no brainer. He might lead the team in passing and rushing this year, and he is definite leader of this team. If State goes 11-1 this year, he will be in the Heisman Conversation undoubtedly, making him the most sure pick to win this award.
Offensive Player of the Year: Aeris Williams
There is a lot of talk about Kylin Hill. And rightfully so, he will be a beast for us next season and in the future… but there is a really good guy who starts. A-Train dominated Bama last year, and pretty much every team last season. He is built to succeed in Moorhead’s system, and arguably may have benefited the most from the coaching change. He will hit 1,200 yards and least and will be an asset in the passing game, whether that’s blocking or receiving.
Defensive Player of the Year: Leo Lewis
Simmons is great. So is Sweat. Abrams is too. McLaurin? Amazing. All of them are extremely talented. But, Leo Lewis, he plays one of the most important positions on defense. He will have more experience, more talent, and has put in a tremendous amount of work this offseason. With the NCAA mess out of his hair, he can finally just play football. If I had to find a player comparison for him, it would be Ray Lewis. I love what he could do next season and should benefit from a 4-3 scheme.
Rookie of the Year: Chauncey Rivers
This is a toss up for me, because I do not see too many new players making an impact this season because of the strong, experienced depth. But Chauncey is a definite impact. Number 5 looks pretty on him and he had a whole season to workout and be ready for this year. I think he will be a monster upfront and is a perfect addition to an already loaded D-Line.
Most Improved Player: Cam Dantlzer
One of the most fun players on the team for me is Cam. He is worth a follow on Twitter. But off field doesn’t get him the nod here. It is the talent he flashed last season, and the amount of work he has put in over the offseason. He should have a much bigger role and is primed for a much better, bigger year this season.
Head Ball Coach: Joe Moorhead
Coach Mo came over from Penn St. with a great track record and a ton of respect in coaching circles. If there is any coach in America better suited for Starkville, let me know. Unbiasedly, this is the biggest homerun hire of the offseason. It wasn’t a big name like Chip Kelly or anything like that, but it also isn’t q controversial hire like certain other coaches. It is the smartest hire and easiest transition
Offensive Coordinator: Luke Getsy
To me, this is one of the more exciting hires. While I understand Coach Moorhead will be calling plays, the idea of an NFL wide receiver coach (who has worked with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Devante Adams) being on our staff is exciting. Especially considering the crop of guys we have coming in, this offense could be special. He was a favorite coach on the Packers staff, and is going to be help for recruiting wide receivers in the future.
Quarterback Coach: Andrew Breiner
A D-1 head coach left his team, to be the QB coach. First, it shows how much his staff loved Coach Mo to follow him to another school (Was OC under Moorhead at Fordham). Secondly, it shows how great of a recruiter that Moorhead is. Being able to get a HC to come down to be a passing game coordinator takes a little work. This seems to be another killer coach on a great coaching staff.
Running Back Coach: Charles Huff
The first hire to this brand new staff was none other than Charles Huff. Another coach with NFL experience, and more than that he is an exceptional recruiter, ranked the 10th best recruiter in 2018 by 24/7 Sports. After working with Moorhead at Penn St., it again shows the relationships he has made are strong and that is a great sign moving forward. After personally meeting him in our exclusive interview with him, I know that he is an incredible man and an incredible coach.
Tight End Coach: Mark Hudspeth
This name might sound a little familiar. Hudspeth is returning back to State after a wonderful run as HC of the Ragin’ Cajuns. Another former head coach on the staff adds experience and lots more help with recruiting. Hudspeth with also serve as Associate Head Coach, meaning he would most likely be the interim in any situation that the head coach can not coach.
O-Line Coach: Marcus Johnson
This to me is a very underrated and incredible hire. A former NFL offensive lineman, who is from Mississippi, and worked with one of my favorite coaches (David Cutcliffe) for 6 years… that is a good bit of positive. This is huge coaching wise, and this is even huger recruiting wise.
Defense Coordinator: Bob Stoops
This hire was met with so much fire. There was some excitement, but there was a lot of negativity. Bob Shoop, before UT was a phenomenal defensive mind. He was a hot name when he was at Vanderbilt. UT was a dumpster fire, with a lack of talent, and lack of a good head coach. He did not stand a chance. I like this hire. I have watched a good bit of film on his defense. It fits well. A dominate D-Line, and an overall defense getting better as a whole next year… this defense will be very special next year.
D-Line Coach: Brian Baker
So far he has been an incredible coach for us. He was heavily sought after during the offseason and chose to remain with Mississippi State. This was a big win over the offseason. Continuity is very important on defense with the constant rotation we have had over the years.
Linebacker Coach: Tem Lukabu
Coach Moorhead made a very big emphasis on bringing in two types of coaches. Former head coaches and coaches with NFL experience. Tem has coached in the NFL for several years, and is considered another up and coming coach.
Safeties Coach: Terrell Buckley
T-Buck is a major asset on this coaching staff. He was very sought after by Florida State this offseason but like Brian Baker, he chose to be apart of this season. The coaches can feel something special here, and that is a big win for us this upcoming season.
Special Teams Coach: Joey Jones
Joey Jones coached that South Alabama team that… well… you know broke our hearts. He coached there for 9 years, and was very successful. Now he is in charge of our special teams, and for the first time in years it seems that our special teams are coming together.
Players to Watch:
Nick Fitzgerald- His name answers this one. ‘Nough said.
Austin Williams- Wide Receiver has been iffy the last few years, but this year there are a couple of really good ones. An underrated guy who could make some noise? Redshirt Freshman Austin Williams.
Montez Sweat- Last year, he was everywhere on the field, but mostly in the back field. He is an incredibly smooth pass rusher and is a top prospect in next year’s draft.
Mark McLaurin- After having the game of his life in the bowl game, he should be ready to be a crucial player and leader on this defense. A ball hawking safety does wonders for this defense, but even more so for setting up a strong offense.
Jace Christmann- The MVP of last years team is good ‘ole Jace Christmann. The man has a golden leg and if he kicks a game winner this year, he has my vote for Heisman. I will have a 4-7 jersey by the end of the year.
This will be the 123rd season in Mississippi State Football history and its 104th in Davis Wade Stadium (2nd oldest of FBS stadiums). Coach Moorhead is going to be heading into his first season as head coach, the 32nd in program history. Currently the program has 555 wins in school history, and 13 overall bowl game victories.
Hashtags: #HailState, #MoorCowbell, #GiveEmFitz, #AlwaysRunNeverPass, #Nick4Heisman, #JaceTheAce
Places to Eat:
After doing a twitter poll as the social media manager for “For Whom the Cowbell Tolls”, I learned a good bit about where State fans like to eat. Here are the places that won the “Go-To-Place” for the upcoming season:
Breakfast: Starkville Café
Lunch: Bulldog Burger
Dinner: Two Brothers
Celebration Station: Bin 612
Must-Do’s on Game Day Weekend:
While in Starkville, there is so much to do. The top three must things to do in Starkville while visiting for game day are the following:
Tailgating- If you are coming to Starkville, you have to have a Junction experience. Home to the best BBQ that no one knows about, if you don’t do this… did you even go to the game?
Go to The Lodge- You are not a real State fan if you do not have something from The Lodge. It is like Mississippi State heaven. If you have been, go. You will not regret visiting this little piece of maroon heaven.
Find a State Mural- One of the popular movements in Starkville is the mural movement. All these bricks walls have gotten real pretty lately with incredible State inspired art work. You have to find them… what else would you post on the ‘Gram.
What to Wear:
So while we might not know the “Colors-to-Wear” yet, here is the new hip styles for what to wear to these home games:
So here is the basic look of the shirt, but you have to roll up those sleeves. Three or four times will suffice. Then unbutton that top button, because, hey its a college environment. Any variety of this shirt will work, but if its not maroon or white… its a no from me.
You have got to rock the Chubbies. If the suns out, then bring the thighs out. Cargo Shorts? Gone. Its now or never for these shorts.
They are maroon. Come on. You have to cop. Air out those toes in the heat, you will thank me later.
Ladies… don’t over think this. It is hot out there. Get that sundress on. Stay cool. Look good. Maroon or white. Boom. Easy. Then get some white shoes and you are set for gameday.
Hottest Ticket of the Season:
Every ticket is a hot ticket every season, but as we all know success brings continuous sell outs. This season we have some huge games at home, but none bigger than when the old coach comes to town. College Gameday might be in town, the cowbells will be in full force, and if you aren’t there… you will miss the craziest environment Starkville has seen in ages.
This season will one of the more exciting seasons in recent memory. I don’t think that is any secret or takes any expert analysis to figure out. But for me to say that as a State fan is incredible, given the deep history of losses this team has. Joe Moorhead can bring this program into national light, one of which it has never had before. I hope all of was helpful for young State fans, and ones who needed to know all the hip and in things for this coming season. Here is to a year full of cowbells, victories, and sellout crowds. PTLGD!