The college football season begins at the end of the month and fall camps are getting underway across the state.
The Bulldogs will hold their first practice this afternoon as they officially begin year two under head coach Joe Moorhead after an 8-5 record in year one. All eyes will be on the quarterback battle with junior Keytaon Thompson, grad-transfer Tommy Stevens, freshman (RS) Jalen Mayden, and true freshman Garrett Shrader all looking to replace Nick Fitzgerald as the leader of the Bulldog offense.
Kylin Hill will likely be the featured back for Mississippi State this season, and Isaiah Zuber transferred from Kansas State to add some explosiveness on the outside.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs had one of the nation’s best units in 2018 thanks in large part to their defensive line, but DL Jeffery Simmons and DE Montez Sweat have moved on to the NFL. This year, the MSU linebacking core will be a strength and they’ll be led by Erroll Thompson, who has been named as a captain. Cam Dantzler is one of the top DBs in the SEC and he’s back to anchor the Bulldog secondary.
The Bulldogs open the season in the Superdome against Louisiana on August 31st at 11:00 a.m.
In Oxford, the NCAA sanctions are over and new OC Rich Rodriguez and DC Mike MacIntyre have been brought in to help turn around a program coming off of a tough stretch, which includes last year’s 5-7 finish. The overarching theme of Thursday’s Ole Miss Media Day was youth, especially on offense.
After losing much of their offensive line and standout WRs D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown, the Rebels will turn to unproven talent at several key positions in 2019. On the OL, head coach Matt Luke mentioned a few freshmen that may make their way onto the field early in the season, including Nick Broeker and Jeremy James.
Redshirt freshman QB Matt Corral steps into the starter role with sophomore Elijah Moore and junior Braylon Sanders as his most experienced targets. Sophomore Tylan Knight and a group of freshman will also look to make their mark on the Rebel offense.
The Rebels’ RB room is a strength with senior Scottie Phillips leading the way. He’s joined by 5-star recruit Jerrion Ealy, who’ll likely be worked into the team’s gameplans early on.
Defensively, the Rebels were one of the worst units in the country in 2018 and they’re hoping to see improvement in MacIntyre’s 3-4 scheme. The Rebels return 8 defensive starters including leading tackler MoMo Sanogo at LB. JUCO transfers like LBs Sam Williams and Lakia Henry will likely see a lot of playing time as well. DB Jaylon Jones, who tore his ACL against Texas Tech in 2018, is also back to help the Rebel secondary.
The Rebels open the season on the road at Memphis on the 31st at 11:00 a.m.
The Golden Eagles went 6-5 last year but missed out on a bowl game, and they now begin year four under head coach Jay Hopson. Jack Abraham and Tate Whatley will be locked into a QB battle during camp as both return with experience. USM was picked to finish 2nd in C-USA West and had five of its players voted to the league’s preseason team including wide receiver Quez Watkins, defensive back Ky’el Hemby, defensive linemen Demarrio Smith and Jacques Turner and linebacker Racheem Boothe.
In all, USM returns 48 letterwinners from a season ago, including nine starters on offense and six on defense.
Southern Miss welcomes Alcorn State to open the season on the 31st at 6:00 p.m.
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