Sept 22, 2012; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen during the game against the South Alabama Jaguars at Davis Wade Stadium. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the South Alabama Jaguars 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

2014 SEC Football Preview: Mississippi State

Ole Hotty Toddy is going to prepare you for the upcoming 2014 season with all the information we can provide you. We are even going to give you an in depth look at each SEC team.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the Mississippi State Bulldogs and what to expect from them in the upcoming 2014 season. We will go over which impact players are returning in 2014, who left, a look at there schedule, and then our staff will predict how the Bulldogs will do in the 2014 season.

Introduction

The Mississippi State Bulldogs are coming into their sixth season under the Head Coach Dan Mullen era. Last season, Mississippi State finished with a 7-6 overall record, 3-5 in the SEC (Tied 5th in the SEC West). This included an Egg Bowl win over Ole Miss and a Liberty Bowl win over Rice. It was a season of mediocrity for the Bulldogs, but if you ask any Mississippi State fan, the win over Ole Miss meant so much more. In 2014, the Bulldogs look to improve from last season. Most State fans come into this season expecting to see a nine win season. Is this the year the Bulldogs contend for the western title, or will fans once again be sorely disappointed? Is Dak Prescott really a darkhorse for the Heisman?

2014 Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Schedule

Date
Opponent
Site/Time/TV
08/30/14Southern MissStarkville, Mississippi
(Davis Wade Stadium)
6:30 p.m. CT / SEC Network
09/06/14UABStarkville, Mississippi
(Davis Wade Stadium)
1:00 p.m. CT / FSN
09/13/14at South AlabamaMobile, Alabama
(Ladd-Peebles Stadium)
3:00 p.m. CT / ESPNews
09/20/14at LSUBaton Rouge, Louisiana
(Tiger Stadium)
TBA
10/04/14Texas A&MStarkville, Mississippi
(Davis Wade Stadium)
TBA
10/11/14AuburnStarkville, Mississippi
(Davis Wade Stadium)
TBA
10/25/14at KentuckyLexington, Kentucky
(Commonwealth Stadium)
TBA
11/01/14ArkansasStarkville, Mississippi
(Davis Wade Stadium)
TBA
11/08/14UT MartinStarkville, Mississippi
(Davis Wade Stadium)
11/15/14at AlabamaTuscaloosa, Alabama
(Bryant-Denny Stadium)
TBA
11/22/14VanderbiltStarkville, Mississippi
(Davis Wade Stadium)
TBA
11/29/14at Ole MissOxford, Mississippi
(Vaught-Hemingway Stadium)
TBA

Who Has Left?

Tyler Russell (QB) - Tyler Russell is the former Heisman darkhorse for Mississippi State. Russell’s best season came in 2012 when he played in every game as starting quarterback for the Bulldogs. That season, Russell finished with 2,897 total passing yards and threw 24 touchdown passes. This was the season the Bulldogs started 7-0, but finished 8-5. Ever since, Russell has been under the shadow of Prescott. Maybe, he was the one who randomly kicked Prescott in the shin. Russell finished his 2013 season with 875 total passing yards and five touchdown passes. Russell went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Nov 16, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Tyler Russell (17) drops back to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe Jackson (OG) - Gabe Jackson was a very skilled offensive lineman for the Bulldogs over the years. In 2013, Jackson contributed to one of the best offenses Mississippi State has had in a long time. By the numbers, the Bulldogs offense totaled 5,647 yards, which was a near thousand yards of improvement from the previous season. Jackson was the only Bulldog to get drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. He went in the third round as the 81st overall pick to the Oakland Raiders.

Ladarius Perkins (RB) - If you subtract Prescott from the equation, Ladarius Perkins was the Bulldogs leading running back over the past couple of seasons. Perkins had an impressive 1,000+ yard rushing season in 2012, and finished in the top ten of the 2012 SEC leading rushers. Even with Prescott finishing as the leading rusher for the Bulldogs last season, Perkins managed to pull together 542 total rushing yards, averaging four yards a carry, and picked up two rushing touchdowns on the season. Perkins went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Other Notable Players: Denico Autry (DE), Charles Siddoway (OT), Deontae Skinner (OLB), Baker Swedenburg (PT), Nickoe Whitley (S)

Who Is Coming?

Aeris Williams (RB) - One of the incoming freshmen who could pick up where Perkins left off is Aeris Williams. Williams is a 4-star prospect and rated the 10th all-purpose running back in the nation by 247sports.com. Williams has great vision and has an amazing ability to break tackles. His power and speed could be something vital to the Bulldog offense for years to come.

Jamoral Graham (ATH) - Jamoral Graham is a talented athlete, who can play on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs could line Graham up as a defensive back or a wide receiver and still get great results. In his 2012 high school season, Graham received 464 total yards on offense, ran for 495 yards, and picked up five touchdowns in rushing and passing. He also added 21 tackles and an interception on defense that season. Graham looks to be starting at the wide receiver position for the Bulldogs in the upcoming season.

Gerri Green (OLB) - Gerri Green has to be one of the most talented defensive players the Bulldogs picked up in the 2014 recruiting class. Green was rated a 4-star prospect and 22nd athlete in the country by 247sports.com. In his senior year of high school, Green racked up 98 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, and five sacks. His size and athleticism will be a talent the Bulldogs’ defense will be looking for this upcoming season.

Other Notable Players: Jesse Jackson (WR), Brandon Bryant (S), Cory Thomas (SDE), Will Coleman (WDE), Darrion Hutcherson (TE), Jocquell Johnson (OT), Elijah Staley (QB)

Who Is Returning?

Dak Prescott (QB) – There is no more Tyler Russell. It is all Dak Prescott‘s show now. The junior dual quarterback is coming off his best season, and many State fans are looking for Prescott to be a darkhorse for the Heisman Trophy award. Prescott finished last season with 1,940 total passing yards (ranked 10th in the SEC) and finished with a 10:7 (TD:INT) ratio. If State wants this kid to be a Heisman Trophy candidate, why not make Prescott a running back? His odds would be better if you went with that approach. Last season, Prescott ran for 829 total rushing yards (ranked 11th in the SEC) and picked up 13 rushing touchdowns on the season.

Oct 24, 2013; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) drops back for a pass during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Benardrick McKinney (LB) - Benardrick McKinney has been one of the Bulldogs’ leading defensive players since he broke out onto the scene his freshman year in 2012. McKinney racked up an amazing 102 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, and 1.5 sacks his freshman year. In 2013, McKinney finished with 70 total tackles, 7.0 for a loss, and lead the team in sacks with 3.5 on the year. He will be a player to watch on the Bulldogs defense this coming season.

Chris Jones (DE) - Remember Chris Jones from the 2013 recruiting class? He was the recruit who kept wavering his options back-in-forth between committing to Ole Miss or Mississippi State. Then he committed to the Bulldogs. Then all of a sudden there was a full-blown investigation by the NCAA on Chris Jones’ recruitment with Ole Miss. Of course, it was all media attention and nothing resulted from the investigation, but the talented 5-star prospect had an impressive freshman year. Jones finished the 2013 season with 37 total tackles, 7.0 for a loss, and 3.0 sacks. Expect Jones to make some more noise for the Bulldogs in the 2014 season.

Other Notable Players: Jamaal Clayborn (OC), Nelson Adams (DT), Jordan Washington (DT), Jamerson Love (DB)

Ole Hotty Toddy’s Thoughts on Mississippi State…

Acey Roberts: It’s going to be a rare year as I expect both teams to be ranked heading into the Egg Bowl. This is a team, like Ole Miss, that will have a chance to leap over some of the traditional powers in the SEC due to NFL attrition. How good can this team be? It will depend on the ability of junior quarterback Dak Prescott. He shared snaps last year with Tyler Russell and was an injury prone, but if he can stay healthy he can be a dangerous dual threat quarterback. I don’t expect him to be the next Cam Newton as many Mississippi State fans have bought into hype and built him up into a Heisman Trophy candidate. But, he doesn’t have to be an elite quarterback to win 9 or 10 games. Ole Miss will have to make the Bulldogs one dimensional to beat them. The home field advantage will also help give the Rebels a big win in Oxford, 42-38. Ole Miss needs to win to also slow down the momentum Mississippi State is starting to build in recruiting.

Dave Bevan: It is very possible both Ole Miss and Mississippi State will be ranked going into the 2014 Egg Bowl game. Mississippi State has one of the weakest 2014 schedules in the entire league. If the Bulldogs can play to their potential, there is no reason why they wouldn’t come into the Egg Bowl with a minimum of three losses. Is Dak Prescott a darkhorse for the Heisman? My answer is no. His name will be an honorable mention a few times, but I don’t see him traveling to New York for the selection show. Dan Mullen could see some good vibes from State fans after posting an eight win regular season. But, the loss in Oxford is going to sting just a little. I see “at best” the Bulldogs finishing the regular season 8-4, with losses to Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Ole Miss. A bad season for the Bulldogs would be suffering those same losses, plus upsets by Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. So, at worst, I see the Bulldogs finishing 6-6 in the regular season. But, you’re still looking at bowl eligibility.

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Tags: Mississippi State Football Ole Miss Rebels

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