Mississippi State Bowl Bound in '09 Part 1: What's Up in Starkville?

Jarrod WilliamsContributor IAugust 22, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 29:  Anthony Dixon #24 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs celebrates with his team his touchdown against the UCF Knights during the 49th Annual Autozone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium December 29, 2007 in Memphis, Tennessee. The Bulldogs beat the Knights 10-3.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

The start of another football season is upon us and as always the Mississippi State Bulldogs start their quest for a winning season and an ever-elusive post-season bowl bid.  This campaign begins with a new commander in the form of new head coach Dan Mullen.  He storms into Starkville bringing with him a high-octane offense, which has propelled the Gators of Florida to two national championships in the last three years.  He has begun the transition from the west coast style offense favored by former coach Sylvester Croom to a wide open spread offense that was displayed in his play calling at Florida.


            On offense it all begins up front on with the line, and in that position the Bulldogs cupboard is well stocked.  The warriors in Maroon have a depth chart filled with both experience and high impact young players, which can maximize the effectiveness of the group.  At wide receiver senior Brandon Macrae leads a host of exciting freshman receivers eager to prove themselves in the dynamic new system.  At running back Mississippi State returns an All SEC performer in the form of Anthony Dixon, productive fill-in Christian Ducre, and electrifying youngster Robert Elliot.  As at Florida, Coach Mullen’s offense is all triggered from the quarterback position.  This position returns a starter in senior Tyson Lee who has seemed to take the new system all in stride and is prepared to be the starter against Jackson State in the opener.  Coach Mullen is in the process of building an effective offensive unit that should take some of the pressure off of the defense.


While the offense requires a rebuilding effort, the defensive side of the football returns six starters which received significant playing time on last year’s team, which ranked thirty fifth in the nation allowing a shade over three hundred and twenty five yards per game.  The strength of the unit is easily the linebacking corps led by returning starter Jamar Chaney and bolstered by incoming junior college recruit Chris White.  The defensive front also looks to be a strong unit returning veteran contributors Brandon Cooper and Kyle Love and bringing in high impact tackle Pernell Mcphee.  The task of replacing Derek Pegues in the secondary is a difficult one, but junior Zach Smith believes he is up to the task after backing up Pegues for two years.  The rest of the secondary are players that, while untested, have a large amount of talent.  If this defense can gel we could be looking at a unit that can lock down opposing offenses and maybe generate some offense of its own.


            In the long run Coach Mullen appears poised to take the Bulldogs to the next level in SEC competition, and this year looks to be a promising bowl bound season.  With a favorable schedule, more effective offense, and a stingy defense six wins should be an expectation rather than a hope for this year’s squad.