Fantastic season so far. If this were happening in Lexington, I'd picture a mixture of total euphoria and a sense of foreboding that the clock could strike midnight at any time. What is the mood like for fans of the program?
Mississippi State fans are absolutely thrilled about the season so far. Doing things like picking up three consecutive wins over top-ten teams and hosting ESPN College Gameday are new for Mississippi State fans. Snagging the No. 1 ranking will always be special to Bulldog fans because it had never happened before.
That said, the season is only halfway finished, and everyone realizes that. The Bulldogs have a tough road game against a five-win Kentucky team Saturday, a feisty Arkansas squad the next week, and later road games at Alabama and Ole Miss. There could still be bumps and bruises this season.
Dak Prescott put together a solid sophomore year last year, especially with his legs. But I for one didn't see this coming. What has allowed him to reach the next level as a QB?
I think for Prescott there are a couple of things in play:
1) This is his first season to go through all the workouts as the starter. When you are No.1 on the chart and not 1A as he was called last year, you are going to develop more.
2) For as good of a runner as Prescott is, he has improved tremendously as a passer. He is over the 61% mark this year, and if his UAB performance (nearly 12% below his average) was thrown out, it would be much higher. He is also hitting longer passes this season, which is opening up the run.
3) As good as he is, he is far from the only offensive threat, so defenses cannot just target him. He has an outstanding receiver corps led by De'Runnya Wilson and Jameon Lewis, and Josh Robinson is a dangerous running back for Mississippi State. If you combine that with solid offensive line play, it makes it much easier to be a quarterback.
Which Bulldog defensive player is most likely to make an impact? Is there anyone who might be ready for a breakout game?
Chris Jones, Benardrick McKinney, and Preston Smith have grabbed most of the attention this season, and I would expect to see all of them make some plays. A few other guys to watch would include Matt Wells, Richie Brown (who had three interceptions against Texas A&M), and anyone in the secondary such as Will Redmond or Teveze Calhoun.
Dan Mullen has regularly come into Commonwealth Stadium and put up W's. This is his best team. From what you've seen of this team, could overconfidence be a factor?
I don't think so. This team remembers barely making it to six wins last season. They play with a chip on their shoulder, and they know what it is like to be the overlooked team. If they lose Saturday, I don't think it will be from overconfidence.
Perhaps most importantly, this team has been hit in the mouth on a few occasions this season, and each time, they have hopped up and hit back. Should Kentucky get to them early, I'd be surprised to see panic mode set in.
The Bulldogs had a heck of a three week run, but the two biggest games on the schedule are still looming in November and they're brutal. What are the keys to MSU's ability to win at Tuscaloosa and Oxford and possibly run the table?
Mississippi State will have to do what they have done all season. Offensively, the only thing that has stopped Mississippi State has been themselves. With Jameon Lewis returning to action, that offense should be more dangerous than ever. They have to keep scoring and dominating with the run. Defensively, this team has taken a bad rap, but they have slowed down the Aggies and Auburn Tigers. They just need to continue to attack the opposing offenses, force a few turnovers and keep folks out of the end zone. Against Ole Miss and Alabama, that could still not be enough to win, but that will be the formula.
Admit it, you all aren't looking past this game, you're looking past the next three games, right?
This isn't just a scrimmage this weekend? In all seriousness, it is easy to go ahead and get to Nov. 15, but each game can turn into a loss, and Mississippi State fans are aware of it. I think everyone is all into seeing what happens in Lexington and enjoying the ride the Bulldogs are on.