By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
This year’s Mississippi State squad looks to be the most talented Dan Mullen has had, but a lot of that talent is young. And a lot of that talent will be seeing the playing field for the first time Saturday.
On its depth chart against Jackson State, MSU lists five freshmen or redshirt freshmen, 16 sophomores and two junior college transfers. That’s 23 players out of 51 on the two-deep who have one year or less of SEC experience.
Most of these players are backups, but a handful of them are starters or could be starters – guys like redshirt freshman LB Benardrick McKinney, freshman kicker Devon Bell and juco transfer DE Denico Autry.
There are also a handful of freshmen listed on the two-deep who are expected to play this week and beyond, most notably DT Quay Evans and WR Joe Morrow.
On the whole, there is plenty of experience among the starters. Behind them is loads of talent, but not as much experience as you might like.
Exhibit A is quarterback. Starter Tyler Russell is a redshirt junior with 17 games under his belt. Behind him is redshirt freshman Dak Prescott, who looks like he could be a starter someday, but right now he’s another Russell knee injury away from filling that role. Not a pleasant thought.
That’s why it’s important that plenty of young Bulldogs find the field early in the season. These are the potential future stars for MSU, and with a small junior/senior group this year, the young guys will be counted upon sooner rather than later.
The youth probably won’t hurt MSU against Jackson State. In fact, it’s a great chance for the younger players to shoo all those butterflies before facing Auburn next week.
The youngsters are itching to get on the field. What they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm.
“By the time the game starts, I’ll probably have lost my mind,” said Morrow, who redshirted last season. “I’m ready for it, though. … I can’t explain how I feel, but I’m ready, though.”
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers MSU for the Daily Journal.