Since the final snap of the TaxSlayer Bowl victory over Louisville in December, the hype for Mississippi State’s 2018 season has been building at a tremendous rate. New coach Joe Moorhead has inherited a talented group of Bulldogs, and many are expecting fireworks from Mississippi State in his first season.
Can it contend in the treacherous SEC West? Why not. The talent is there. The leadership is there. The skill players are there. The Bulldogs just need the pieces to come together.
Here are three Bulldogs who could become major cogs in the team’s title hopes:
Gerri Green (DE)
Gerri Green has made the move from linebacker to defensive line and strengthens an already strong unit. His numbers were solid in 2017, 11 tackles for a loss along with 5 sacks, but those should rise this season.
With the talent on the line that includes Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons, Green will likely face a lot of 1-on-1 situations against the opposing offense, in which he should be able to take advantage.
Greg Eiland (LT)
The good news is four of five starters return on the offensive line from last season. The bad news? The anchor of last year’s line, Martinas Rankin, is gone.
In steps 6-foot-8, 330-pound Greg Eiland, who already has important experience under his belt, starting in place of Rankin in four games last season. His gelling with the other four linemen could give Mississippi State one of the best blockers in the conference. With the talent of quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, the load of running backs featuring Aeris Williams behind the strong line would make for a scary offense.
Austin Williams (WR)
Speaking of explosive, Austin Williams could become a weekly highlight reel in Moorhead’s offense.
While Williams redshirted last season, his play during the spring earned a lot of praise from his new coach and there is reason to believe he is capable of becoming a star. At 6-foot-3, Williams has the height to tower over opposing defenders, but he also has the speed to beat them as well. He, along with a slew of new Bulldogs wide receivers, could help fix what ailed Mississippi State’s offense last year.