The 2018 Cajun Opponents–Game Two at Mississippi State
(This is the second in a series of previews of Louisiana Ragin' Cajun opponents for 2018. Today: #18 Mississippi State)
There's no question the days under Dan Mullen were the best ever for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the season three of the last four years and won at least nine games during three of the four. But Mullen is gone to Florida and now the Bulldogs turn to Joe Moorhead, who comes in from Penn State where he was their Offensive Coordinator.
He inherits plenty.
The Bulldogs are ranked in the preseason (#18 in the Amway Coaches Poll) for the first time since 2011. They return 17 starters from last year's 9-4 team and have their most experienced team in years. Their offense will be one of the best in the SEC, with Nick Fitzgerald returning at quarterback and Aeris Williams at running back. Fitzgerald dislocated his ankle last year in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss and that gave Keytaon Thompson a chance to get some valuable experience. The sophomore to be led the Bulldogs to a bowl win over Louisville.
Williams rushed for 1,106 yards last year and should get plenty of holes, as the Bulldogs return four starters on the offensive line. This will be one of the better offenses in the SEC in 2018 if Fitzgerald returns to the form he had before his injury.
Defensively there are a couple of holes to fill at linebacker, but the Bulldogs will have one of the league's better defensive lines as all four starters return. In fact, the DL has seven guys who have started at some point in time.
The Bulldogs will have some familiar faces as former Louisiana HC Mark Hudspeth coaches the tight ends, and former South Alabama HC Joey Jones is the special teams coach.
OUTLOOK--They've got a bushel of seniors and twelve of them are starters. They have plenty of experience and had plenty of success last year. There are always question marks with a new coaching staff, but Moorhead has a lot to work with. State has to travel to Alabama, but they get Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M at home. This could very well be the second best team in the SEC West behind that bunch from Tuscaloosa. Moor cowbell?