Game Number Two for Auburn: Mississippi State

Michael AbbottContributor IIIJune 22, 2010

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1: Running back Ben Tate #44 of the Auburn Tigers rushes upfield against the Northwestern Wildcats in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2010 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The second game of the season is also the SEC opener for the Auburn Tigers. Auburn travels to Starkville to take on Dan Mullen and the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Coach Mullen will have a new defensive coordinator in Manny Diaz. Coach Diaz will bring a more aggressive scheme for the Bulldogs.

The defensive line, led by All-SEC defensive end Pernell McPhee, looks to be the strong point going into the season . The Bulldogs will have two veteran linebackers in Chris White and K.J. Wright to help against the run. Newcomer defensive tackle James Cameron, who standds at 6'7", 345 lbs., looks to be State's version of Alabama's Mount Cody.

The secondary has two all-freshman SEC defenders to help against the pass and looks to be much improved over last years unit.

The defense as a whole should be much improved over last year's squad that was the "weak link" of the team.

On offense, Coach Mullen must replace Anthony Dixion, which will prove to be difficult, as no clear replacement has stepped up to fill the void. Two redshirt freshmen and a junior college transfer look to be the ones to step up.

At quarterback, Coach Mullen will most likely use the two quarterback system. Chris Relf looks to be the main quarterback, but will likely share time with Tyler Russell. Dylan Favre, Brett Favre's nephew, could come in as a freshman and take the job. Favre broke several Mississippi passing records and is not to be overlooked.

The Bulldogs have no depth at wide receiver. Chad Bumphins is the most reliable of the group, but 5'10", 170 pound Brandon Heavens caught the coaches' eyes in the spring and will see considerable playing time.

The offensive line was sporadic and is a concern coming out of the fall. With an unproven tailback, thin wide receiver corp, and young quarterbacks, Coach Mullen will have to be patient as the season goes along.

The special teams will return punter Heath Hutchins, while kickers Derek DePasquale and Sean Brauche look to share placekicking duties. The returners will vary as they look to find a playmaker at the position.

The schedule for the Bulldogs is much easier, and the buzz around the defense has State fans looking for a possible bowl berth and a improved group over last years 5-7 version.