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Season preview: Mississippi State has to replace lot of “personality and production”

Linebacker Boogie Watson puts a hit on Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. last season. (Wade Upchurch Photo)

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a 12-part series on each of Kentucky 12 opponents this season. 


LAST YEAR: Kentucky 28, Mississippi State 7.

COACH: Joe Moorhead, second season. Record at school: 8-5. Overall, 46-18.

LOOKING BACK: In his first season in the Southeastern Conference, Moorhead guided the Bulldogs to wins over Auburn, Texas A&M and a 35-3 win over Mississippi in the Egg Bowl. Surprisingly Mississippi State ranked second in the Southeastern Conference in rushing, averaging 222.6 yards per game. The Bulldogs reached the postseason but dropped a 27-22 loss to Iowa in the Outback Bowl. 

LOOKING AHEAD: The Bulldogs lost quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to graduation and Kenton Thompson appears to be the frontrunner to replace Fitzgerald, who threw for 1,767 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Wide receivers Stephon Guidry and Osirus Mitchell also return after collecting more than 400 yards apiece last season. The Bulldogs return running back Kylin Hill, who rushed for 734 yards and scored for touchdowns. Hill and the team’s two returning wideouts will be counted on to provide the load.

Mississippi State’s defense ranked No. 1 in all defensive categories in the conference and allowed just an average of 13.2 points per game. The Bulldogs also ranked second nationally in points allowed. The Bulldogs have to replace defensive end Montez Sweat but will count on linebacker Erroll Thompson who collected 87 tackles last season.

We lost a lot of personality and production on both sides of the ball that we need to replace, Moorhead said. “Offensively, we’re going to have a great quarterback battle between K.T. and Tommy Stevens. We have great youth at that position, a lot of talent. Kylin Hill I think at running back is posed for a breakout season. He was in the several hundred yard range last year, missed a few games for injury, but I think he is ready to go and have a great season.”

CONFERENCE: The Gators are a preseason pick to finish second behind Georgia in the SEC East. 

COACH QUOTE:  Our football goals, as always, we want to have a winning no-conference record. We want to have a winning conference record. You do those things, and that puts you in position to be in the hunt for the SEC Championship. We want to retain the Egg Bowl. Our floor for success is bowl eligibility. Our ceiling for success is winning the SEC and compete for the national championship.”


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  1. Looks as if Mississippi State, one week out from the season opener have to replace somewhat more than personality and production as the NCAA has imposed sanctions on their football program this morning for academic fraud.

    10 current players will be held out for at least 8 games in 2019, and there are recruiting penalties and scholarship reductions coming over their 3 years of probation.

    To Mississippi State’s credit, they discovered this academic fraud internally, investigated it, and self reported the infractions to the NCAA.

    1. Makes that game at State look little more manageable doesn’t it

      1. Yes it does. I have to think that since MSU knew this was coming their way, they have been preparing through the summer with the knowledge that these 10 players would not be available to them for most if not all of the coming season. Therefore, the impact of these suspensions may be tempered.

  2. Tough break for MSU one week before the season but if they were negotiating with NCAA they had to know it was coming and were practicing accordingly. If you’re a Missouri fan you should be extremely upset right now about this turn of events. Punishment seems pretty favorable compared to what the NCAA levied against the Tigers.

    1. I agree Keith

  3. If I was I’ve be saying why us and not N. Carolina.

    1. I have friends who are State fans saying almost those exact words

  4. The whole country should be asking why North Carolina got off scott free when they committed far worse atrocities. This just goes to show the bias that the NCAA has and it gets worse each passing year. Its passed time for a new governing body made up of college presidents and ADs who serve 2 to 4 year terms to replace the corrupt NCAA.

    1. Amen to that Catmandoo

  5. Catmandoo I agree.

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