The Mississippi State Bulldogs are gearing up for the quickly approaching college football season as they look to compete for an SEC title. The Bulldogs ended 2015 with a convincing 23 point win against North Carolina State in the Belk Bowl in December after finishing the regular season with a 9-4, 4-4 (SEC) record.
This fall, the Bulldogs will enter their home opener against South Alabama with new coordinator Peter Sirmon at the helm on defense after Manny Diaz left the program for the same position at the University of Miami. Sirmon was an associate head coach, a linebackers coach, and a recruiting coordinator at USC before joining the Bulldogs’ staff. He will be tasked with fixing a defense that ranked 56th in the nation and allowed an average of about 175 rushing yards per game.
However, despite Sirmon’s addition, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen insists that the basic philosophy of their defense will remain the same. Moreover, in spite of the improvements that need to be made on that side of the ball, Mullen is still optimistic that they can be the kind of attacking defense he needs them to be.
The addition of five star recruit and freshman defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons is sure to bring some punch their defense if he can stay out of trouble. Controversy is still brewing over the fact that Simmons was admitted into the university and suspended for just one game after video of him assaulting a woman surfaced online at the beginning of the year. Mullen has remained steadfast in his support of Simmons despite the outrage surrounding the university’s response.
On offense, the Bulldogs will look to replace new Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott with one of the four quarterbacks that they have on the roster (freshman Nick Tiano, junior Damian Williams, sophomore Nick Fitzgerald, and sophomore Elijah Stanley). Though none of them have separated themselves from one another to this point, Fitzgerald served as the primary backup to Prescott last season, throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions in limited action. With little experience at the quarterback position, Mullen expects the Bulldogs to run the ball significantly more than they did last season.
Fans will get their first look at how the new pieces on the team work together when Mississippi State opens up the regular season against non-conference foe, South Alabama on September 3rd in Starkville.