Smith on Sports: Expectations not anything new to MSU

By: 
DANNY P. SMITH
Staff Writer

Pencils down. The votes have been cast and the results are in.
All last week, media members at Southeastern Conference Football Media Days gave careful consideration to how their predicted order of finish in the league race was going to shake out for this year. Some of them made those thoughts known on Twitter during the course of the week.
On Friday morning, the preseason order of finish was announced by the SEC and the Mississippi State Bulldogs were given some love.
The Bulldogs were placed third in the SEC Western Division and received two votes to win the West with one vote to win the overall title.
If that holds true, then it will be a very good upcoming season for MSU under new head coach Joe Moorhead.
It has been a very good run for the Bulldogs over the last several years.
Even though State hasn’t won the SEC championship since 1941 and have never won a national title, it has enjoyed success.
The Bulldogs have made it to NCAA postseason bowl games for eight-straight seasons and have had winning seasons in seven of those campaigns. Of course, the best year during that time was 2014 when MSU won its first nine games, reached No. 1 in the country, played in the Orange Bowl, finished with a No. 11 ranking in The Associated Press poll with a 10-3 overall record.
All of that was pretty good with Dan Mullen as the head coach, but there are signs the Bulldogs may be ready to take that next step with Moorhead in charge.
Along with the SEC media, some preseason publications have MSU at a good place.
Street & Smith magazine picked the Bulldogs fourth in the SEC West and 19th in the preseason top 25, while Lindy’s Sports football preview magazine has MSU ranked No. 20 in the country and third in the SEC West.
The Bulldogs like the attention they have received, but they know none of that matters unless they hit the field ready to take care of business on September 1 against Stephen F. Austin.
“We know we need to work toward those expectations,” MSU defensive end Gerri Green said. “We come into each day with the mindset to win and attack the day. That way we can beat expectations.”
Green is going to be a part of a very talented defense and one that should put pressure on opposing offenses all season.
The Bulldogs had two members of their defensive line selected first team All-SEC on Friday with Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat, while safety Mark McLaurin made the third team. That’s a nice trio to hang your hat on if you are MSU defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.
Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and running back Aeris Williams are veterans of the Bulldog offense and made third team All-SEC. As long as Fitzgerald’s ankle is sound and Williams stays healthy, they should be productive in how Moorhead wants to do things.
Preseason predictions are a nice conversation piece until actual games start being played, but there seems to be enough positive vibes being sent MSU’s way that a special season could be in the works.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.

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