Mississippi State’s field goal consistency was miserable last season and from what I saw this spring there wasn’t much of an improvement.
The Bulldogs made just 10 of 21 field goals last season which ranked 122nd nationally.
That’s bad folks, especially in a league where points in the red zone are at a premium sometimes. Devon Bell was 6-of-14 last year and has been taken off field goal and extra point duties entirely. Evan Sobiesk made 3-of-6 of his tries as a redshirt freshman in 2013.
Sobiesk joined fellow walk-ons Westin Graves and Courtland Daws to battle for the starting job this spring. Sobiesk went 4-of-10 during MSU’s three spring scrimmages while Graves was 2-of-4. The Bulldogs need much more consistency than that.
It’s still hard for me to fathom that a Southeastern Conference program to be as bad as State was last season and spring kicking field goals. It’s inexcusable really. Maybe Michigan transfer J.J. McGrath will be the answer they’ve been seeking when he starts the fall.
I was glad to see coach Dan Mullen relinquish the special teams title because quite frankly I didn’t think he was able to put the proper amount of time and energy to put into it that it required. The kickoff team has struggled in coverage since his arrival but the punt team coverage is one of the best in the country.
Time will tell if Greg Knox will be able to improve the special teams along with his responsibilities with the running backs. Knox did spend three years as the special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach at Stephen F. Austin from 1992-94.
I believe having Bell concentrate solely on punting and kicking off will help his confidence. He admittedly isn’t a field goal kicker and was recruited primarily to punt and kickoff, which are his strengths. Bell has a very strong leg and as long as he doesn’t over think what he is doing on the field, he should be just fine in those roles.
Baker Swedenburg was really solid for the Bulldogs the last four years but I liked the way Mullen worked Bell in last year to prepare him to take over the job this year. Bell has a stronger leg than Swedenburg but consistency is still the issue at this stage of his career.