The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldogs ‘lack of experience’ can be deceiving

Whenever a sports fan turns on ESPN or the SEC network, all they will hear is  how this year’s team will lag behind the rest of the SEC. Mississippi State was picked last in the SEC West at SEC Media days. They weren’t even ranked in the top 25 this year.

Why are national experts saying this and are they right?

Well, what most experts point too is that MSU only returns seven total starters. While on the surface this is true, upon looking a little deeper at the numbers you this may not be as simple as it appears. 

According to Nicholas Ian Allen of, MSU returns only  three on defense and four on offense that were full-time starters last season. That, Allen says, makes the Bulldogs the most inexperienced team in the league.

For example, while Chris Jones was technically not a starter last year, it was easily arguable he was the second best defensive lineman, behind Preston Smith. He is a pre-season All-American, finished tied for third in sacks among MSU’s defensive linemen last year. 

Junior Linebacker Richie Brown was a backup last season but due to how much the defense rotated he finished sixth on the team in tackles.

 Will Redmond is another example. He has been rated as the best Senior Cornerback in the country by draft expert Mel Kipper and finished fifth on the team in tackles and had the most interceptions on the team last year, but is not considered a returning starter. 

Overall on defense, MSU returns five of their top seven tacklers—Beniquez Brown, Taveze Calhoun, Redmond, Richie Brown, Kendrick Market.

The next statements  are Dak will have to do it all himself. That State lost too much on offense to re-produce the same offensive numbers as last season.

ESPN’s Sam Khan Jr. wrote that Heisman candidate Dak Prescott cannot do it on his own. That Prescott, faced with the loss of running back Josh Robinson and three starters on the offensive line, will be tested and fail.

The loss of Josh Robinson is something a lot of experts point to. However, many fail to look at the history of the running back position while Coach Dan Mullen has been in charge. 

Out of the six seasons Mullen has coached at MSU, only once did he not have a 1000-yard rusher at the running back position and that season–2013—he had two running backs go for 490 plus yards on the ground. 

The same thing being said about the loss of Josh Robinson was said heading into the 2010 season after State lost Anthony Dixon. Just as others before him had done in years past, Vick Ballard stepped in, and even broke the single season rushing touchdown record. Heading into 2012, it was asked how would MSU replace Ballard. 

In stepped LaDarius Perkins who, like Ballard before him, carried on the tradition of great running backs at MSU. Perkins would go on to total 1,024 rushing yards.

Also, the Bulldogs return six of their top eight pass catchers including leading receiver De’Runnya Wilson and Fred Ross. Ross finished second in receiving yards last season but, like standout cornerback Redmond, is not considered a returning starter.

To address the offensive line you can look into the past once again. Heading into last season many questioned MSU’s offensive line, one that had lost All-SEC guard Gabe Jackson. Against all odds and with this “sub-par” offensive line Mississippi State had one of the most prolific offenses in SEC history. 

Last season the Bulldog offense ranked fourth in yards per game in SEC history. While it would be  far-fetched to say MSU will rise to number one in the country again, to say they will finish last in the SEC West and get blown out by Alabama and LSU is laughable. MSU will compete for the SEC West again. They may not win ten games, but to say they will be lucky to win six is dishonest. 


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Bulldogs ‘lack of experience’ can be deceiving