New redshirt rule will impact Moorhead's plan at MSU

Staff Writer

In college football, there’s almost always a new wrinkle or two each season that coaches must adapt to.
It’s no different in 2018 thanks to the recently-passed new redshirt rule which allows players to play in up to four games in a season and still take a redshirt year.
The new rule will be a factor in Mississippi State’s 2018 roster head coach Joe Moorhead said on Wednesday at Southeastern Conference Media Days. Just which guys it’ll impact remains to be seen, but it could have an effect on both first-year guys and veterans alike.
“We kind of had some preliminary discussions (on the new rule) before we broke for the summer,” Moorhead said. “I think as much as people concentrate on the redshirt rule affecting the incoming freshmen, we first started off with looking at our roster and seeing who are the guys on the current roster and who had redshirted and who hadn't.
“The guys who were non-first-year players, who are the guys that (we could possibly play in) four games, but still preserve a year of eligibility for those guys and where that was feasible? From there, we looked at the incoming freshmen. I think really the decision that is going to be made, if you are going to play them above and beyond the four games that are permissible, will be (based on) how they progress in camp and where you are from a depth chart and an injury standpoint. And really if you are going to use a year of eligibility, how much above those four games are they going to play and impact the game in a positive manner so it makes utilizing that year of eligibility a smart decision?”
In regards to the incoming freshman class, Moorhead seems to be adapting a strategy he learned from James Franklin, who is his former boss at Penn State.
Moorhead said Franklin always separated those guys into three different categories.
“He called it green light, yellow light, red light,” Moorhead said. “That was true freshmen you knew you were going to play during the season, guys you may play and guys you knew you didn’t want to play.”
The new rule of course allows some flexibility. Perhaps a first-year player is deemed prepared. He then plays a game or two and it is decided he is not ready. No harm. He can still maintain a redshirt year as long as he doesn’t play more than four games.
The most interesting component of the new rule though might be which veteran players could benefit from it. For instance, backup quarterback Keytaon Thompson played in 10 games last year as a true freshman. This season, would it be possible for Thompson to play in four or fewer games, use his redshirt year, and maintain a year of eligibility to extend his collegiate career?
Moorhead said in Thompson’s case, that’s highly unlikely.
“It was an initial discussion, but just with the things that we do offensively and some of the things that (Thompson) brings to the table from a playmaking standpoint potential, and the opportunity to have two quarterbacks in the game at the same time, which is some of the stuff we did at Penn State – we talked about it, but we’re not really sure it’s really a legitimate option," Moorhead said.
Still, there could be other veterans with a redshirt year still available who might could play in four or fewer games and maintain a year of eligibility should MSU’s depth at a particular position allow it.
It’s an interesting dynamic to balance, but Moorhead said he believes the new redshirt rule is something he’s glad to have.
“You prefer to preserve as many redshirts as possible, knowing that you get the four games,” Moorhead said. “Who are the people that are going to be able to impact the season in a positive manner above and beyond those four games, where you want to utilize a year of eligibility for those guys. So I think it will be an exercise you have to stay on top of and just make sure if you’re going to play a guy above those four it better be in a substantial manner.”