It is no secret when you say SEC Football one of the last teams that come to mind are the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Over their history – more times than not they just have not mattered.
Since day one of his arrival in Starkville head coach Dan Mullen has been trying to change the attitude and perception of the SEC Western Division Bulldogs. In just three short years he has taken this team from also-ran to a mid tear SEC program. Mullen has won two consecutive bowl games and dominated his instate rival Ole Miss. However, the mark on Mullen is that’s about all he has done – which is he has only beaten one SEC Western Division opponent during his time in Starkville.
Many will tell you it is a success that is skewed by easy out of conference wins and beating up on inferior SEC Eastern Divisional opponents. For all Mullen has done for Starkville, others want to see more. This season – a season that sets up perfectly schedule wise for the Bulldogs, Mississippi State must have five players that are considered average players, step up and be big time players.
Today we look at diamond three and that player or player(s) could be one of a few in the return game.
The Bulldogs struggled mightily in this department in 2011 barely averaging over 18-yards per kick off return (one of the worst in the country) and have not had a kick off return for a touchdown since the 2010 season.
In the punt return game the Bulldogs were not much better only averaging just over 11-yards per return and that stat is skewed due to two long returns by John Banks and Chad Bumphis.
The Bulldogs constantly started drives at their own twenty or there about and had six drives over eighty yards for touchdowns last year. What does all this mean?
It means between Chad Bumphis, Jameon Lewis, John Banks, Ladarius Perkins and others, the Bulldogs have to find someone that can give this team a spark in the return game. It doesn’t matter how great your offense is – starting every drive from your twenty or inside your twenty puts a strain on your offense to sustain drives and score points. Obviously the new kick off rule (moving the ball up five yards from the 30 to the 35) will help aid kickoff units but when given the chance, the Bulldogs need some big returns to help set up better field position.
This team also needs someone to step up on punt returns to help “flip the field” and again set up better field position for the Bulldogs.
Having better success in the return game not only puts your offense in a better position but also your defense when you do in fact have to punt the ball away. It helps your team win the field position battle more times than not which goes a long long way to winning football games.
About the Author
Written by Jake Wimberly
Mississippi State alum, co-founder of makeitrainsports, co-host to makeitrainsports radio on Rebel sports radio and Bulldog sports radio all on the Vsporto Network. Lover of SEC Sports, fitness and married to my best friend. Enjoy ketchup in large amounts and in search for a flying unicorn.