There are many reasons to believe Mississippi State will equal or exceed last season’s success – 31 reasons, in fact. Here’s Reason No. 1.
Senior Chris Relf will be an even better quarterback than last year in a league that’s short on good ones. He knows the position, he knows the offense, he knows his personnel, and he knows he can win games.
I’d argue Relf is the third-best QB in the SEC this fall, behind Georgia’s Aaron Murray and South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia. The stats back that up, as Relf is third behind those two in pass efficiency among returning quarterbacks. He threw only six interceptions in 220 attempts, and half of them came in games MSU won.
There is experience returning at running back and receiver, and the offensive line will be pretty solid (although the left tackle situation could be worrisome). That should allow Relf to pass a little more and run a little less than last year, if that’s what the coaches desire.
Relf is one of the hardest workers on the team, and his teammates seem to have full confidence in him. There were times last season when the coaches acted as if they weren’t sure Relf could win them a ballgame at crunch time, but that’s got to be part of his job description this fall.
It’s been amazing to watch Relf develop over the years, from clueless third-stringer to legit SEC quarterback. The final three games of last season, he completed 51 of 73 passes (69.9 percent) for 793 yards and six touchdowns. I don’t want to make too much of a small sample size – lots of folks made that mistake with Jevan Snead – but everything we’ve seen and heard of Relf’s work this offseason suggests that he is continuing to grow as a QB.