Can Geoff Collins rejuvenate the defense?
Our Take: Collins is the fourth defensive coordinator to work for Mullen, but this will be his third season on staff. He was co-defensive coordinator his first two years while also coaching linebackers, and Collins has previous DC experience.
One of his big tasks is to make the Bulldogs more effectively aggressive – they ranked 100th nationally in sacks last year – and his high-energy approach already has players excited about the change.
Who will replace the production of WR Chad Bumphis?
Our Take: Three new starters will step in at receiver, all with a good bit to prove. Bumphis led the SEC last season with 12 touchdown catches, and his departure opens the door for junior Jameon Lewis, a speedy slot receiver who’s done very little so far but had a strong spring. Other potential playmakers at receiver include sophomore Joe Morrow and junior college transfer Jeremey Chappelle.
Is it still your state?
Our Take: After starting his career 3-0 versus arch-rival Ole Miss, Mullen lost last year’s Egg Bowl, which drained some of the buzz out of MSU’s “Our State” campaign. Hugh Freeze, who’s entering his second season in Oxford, took the Rebels to a bowl game and then brought in a highly ranked recruiting class. It appears these programs are on more even footing these days, and Mullen has his work cut out to stay on top in Mississippi.
What will you do with Chris Jones?
Our Take: Jones, a five-star defensive end at Houston and the No. 2 prospect in the country according to 247Sports, was the jewel of MSU’s 2013 signing class. He’s a very raw talent, however, and so the dilemma for Mullen is whether to play him or redshirt him. Jones could use some time to polish his technique and learn the playbook before hitting the field, but redshirting a prospect of his caliber could give other top-shelf recruits pause when looking at MSU – especially with Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top prospect in 2013, expected to play for Ole Miss this fall.
How good will the cornerbacks be?
Our Take: MSU lost Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay to the NFL Draft – those two combined for nine interceptions last season. And now there’s a new cornerbacks coach, former NFL standout Deshea Townsend. There is depth at this position, led by junior Jamerson Love.