We’re counting down to MSU’s season opener against Oklahoma State on Aug. 31, giving you a significant number to ponder as August trudges on. Today’s number is…
Mississippi State has had a knack for making interceptions in recent years, and last season the Bulldogs came up with 19 of them. That tied for ninth in the country, and it was a big reason MSU had a turnover margin of plus-16, which tied for the SEC lead with LSU.
That number could take a dip this season, because some of the best ball thieves MSU has had in recently memory are gone: Johnthan Banks (16 career interceptions), Corey Broomfield (10) and Darius Slay (5). Banks and Slay accounted for nine of the picks last year.
Can guys like Jamerson Love, Taveze Calhoun, Justin Cox and Cedric Jiles be so good at ball-hawking? Sure, interceptions aren’t everything; Banks and Slay were both very good cover men in general. But turnovers can change the course of a game, and given the tough schedule State faces this year, turnovers would come in mighty handy.
There is one veteran ball-snatcher returning to the secondary: Nickoe Whitley. The senior safety has 10 career picks, including three last season. Perhaps if quarterbacks worry too much about him, the other DBs will get a chance to beef up their INT totals.