09-07-19 Football vs Southern Miss Kylin Hill #8 Photo by Aaron Cornia
Arch-rival Ole Miss made a big splash by hiring Lane Kiffin as their new coach, so Mississippi State went out and hired Mike Leach to be their new head coach, giving both schools and the state of Mississippi plenty of national headlines. Leach is an oddball at times and has some truly interesting press conferences, but he is also an offensive wizard. Without a doubt, the Bulldogs will be airing the ball out often during the season, and transfer quarterback K.J. Costello from Stanford could put up some big numbers.
Kylin Hill returns at tailback after leading the SEC in rushing in 2019, giving the Bulldogs a big weapon on the ground, although Mississippi State will have to replace a couple of offensive linemen. While the new offense might not be record breaking in 2020, it will be much improved and probably drive many SEC defensive coordinators to a few sleepless nights during the season.
New defensive coordinator Zach Arnett brings his 3-3-5 scheme to the Bulldogs from San Diego State, where it proved quite effective. The Bulldogs also have a lot of talent on the line and at linebacker, especially in senior linebacker Erroll Thompson, who led the team in tackles in 2019. The defensive backs are young and will need to improve after allowing almost 250 passing yards per game in 2019. October looms large for the Bulldogs as they face the heart of the SEC West, with games at home against Texas A&M and Auburn bookending the month and road trips to play Alabama and LSU occupying the middle. If the Bulldogs can grab a win or two in October, they will be looking good, but it’s not unlikely that they could go 0-4 in the month.
Ultimately, the big question will be how Leach’s offense fares against high-caliber SEC defenses. If he can continue to work his offensive magic, the Bulldogs could be back to being relevant in the SEC West.