For the first time in a decade, Dan Mullen did not represent Mississippi State at SEC Media Days. In his place is former Fordham head coach and Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, but who exactly is this guy? He’s about what you’d expect from a Miss. State head coach, but not really.
Speaking at the podium, Moorhead was physically imposing, but his personality did not command attention like a typical college football head coach. He was easy-going. He didn’t bring a ton of corny coach-speak, but he did profess his love for Hoosiers. A guy who played quarterback in Munich, Germany, he is not an easy person to figure out, much like his team this fall.
Moorhead created an explosive offense under James Franklin at Penn State, but the last SEC West hire from the Big Ten didn’t work out so well. With a ton of returning talent, expectations are high in Starkville, but it’s difficult to tell if Moorhead can deliver.
The Best Thing Joe Moorhead Said — He does have a little sense of humor.
“I would like to thank the SEC communications department. When I saw the list earlier in the spring and saw I was speaking on the same day as Coach Saban, I was a little worried I was going to have to go after him. It would be like taking the stage and performing after the Beatles and no one is going to be in their seats and paying attention to what you’re doing.”
The Best Thing Joe Moorhead Said (Out of Context) — “Everything being wrapped in bacon, that’s pretty good.”
Coach Speak 101 — “Attitude reflects leadership.”
Miss. State’s Scariest Players — One of the most highly touted recruits Dan Mullen convinced to come to Starkville, Jeffrey Simmons is the SEC’s most explosive nose guard. Last year he had 12 tackles for loss, while his partner in crime, Montez Sweat, had a league-high 15.5 tackles for loss. Sweat also led the league in sacks with 10.5. The dynamic duo is the centerpiece of the best defensive line in the SEC.
Watch Out, Tebow — It took about two games for Nick Fitzgerald to draw comparisons to Tim Tebow. Both are large humans who run well for their size, and each reaped a ton of success in Dan Mullen’s spread offense. The padawan is on the verge of becoming the master.
Tebow holds the SEC record for career rushing yards by a quarterback with 2,947. Fitzgerald only needs 461 to break that record, something he can accomplish in less than half a season. Fitzgerald must do it within a new offensive scheme, but the changes should affect his passing numbers more than what he can produce on the ground.
Good News for UK — Mullen is gone. To become winners in the SEC, Kentucky traditionally has to dominate Vanderbilt and their annual western divisional opponent, Miss. State. That did not happen against Dan Mullen. Who knows how Moorhead will function in Starkville, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be able to surpass Mullen’s success.
Bad News for UK — Miss. State is still a powerful team in the trenches with a quarterback that is incredibly tough to tackle. Last year in Starkville they beat the brakes off the Cats in a dominant 45-7 win. Lucky for Kentucky, the din of cowbells won’t be the soundtrack to this year’s game in Lexington.
Fear Factor — 7.9713436
Even though it’s a home game, it’s still a game against a team many predict to be Alabama’s greatest challenger in the SEC West. They return two All-SEC defensive linemen, a record-breaking dual-threat quarterback and a powerful back that rushed for 1,107 yards in 2017. Benny Snell is the only returning SEC running back who rushed for more yards last year. Dan Mullen may be gone, but Miss. State ain’t no joke.