BRAD LOCKE: Bulldogs – 5 points to ponder on football

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

As if we didn’t already know that spring football games should not be taken too seriously, a good reminder is contained in the box score of Mississippi State’s Maroon-White game. There you will see that Anthony Dixon, who hasn’t played at MSU since 2009, is credited with a 65-yard touchdown reception.
The NFL running back snuck onto the field late in the game to catch a pass from a fourth-string quarterback. And it counted.
Spring games and spring football in general should not be over-analyzed, but I do believe we can still learn a few things. And so I have come up with five things I think I learned from the 15 practices MSU held over the course of a month.
• Jeremey Chappelle can be an immediate impact player.
The junior college transfer is expected to help a depleted receiving corps, and as spring neared its end, Chappelle showed clear improvement. He’s got good size (6-foot-3), good hands, and appears to be a big-play threat.
He worked mostly with the twos during the spring but could very well move into a starting role come fall.
• Tailback LaDarius Perkins will see a reduced workload.
The senior is the unquestioned starter right now, but given what we’ve seen of Josh Robinson and Derrick Milton, I see the carries being shared even more than they were last year.
That should be good for Perkins, who averaged 17.1 carries per game last year, and this could allow his role in the passing game to grow.
• MSU will have a better pass rush.
The Bulldogs recorded 18 sacks last season, which ranked 13th in the SEC. Sacks aren’t everything, and MSU was decent against the pass most of the season.
But more pressure on quarterbacks can only help, and it’s been a point of emphasis. End Denico Autry is back and poised for a big year, and he’ll have plenty of help with the likes of Preston Smith, Ryan Brown, P.J. Jones and others.
The defensive line had its way often with MSU’s offensive line this spring. Speaking of which…
• The offensive line remains a question mark.
With four starters back, including All-SEC guard Gabe Jackson, the Bulldogs ought to be better up front this year. Doesn’t mean they will be, especially if the tackles don’t improve.
After a full spring, I can’t say whether those guys have gotten any better. Maybe the defensive ends are just that good.
• The secondary will be OK in the long run.
There will likely be growing pains in the post-Johnthan Banks era, but there is a nice collection of young talent, especially at cornerback, that should serve MSU well.
Brad Locke (brad.locke@journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at DJournal.com.