For the past week, we have been doing a very early game preview of every game of the 2014 Mississippi State Bulldogs football season. Yesterday, we discussed our game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Today, we will be discussing our Homecoming matchup against the UT-Martin Skyhawks who finished 2013 with a 7-5 (5-3) record in the Ohio Valley Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision (Div. I-AA).
The return of Dylan Favre could be the name of this game. The former Mississippi State quarterback returns to Starkville, but not wearing the familiar maroon and white that Mississippi State fans last saw him in. Last season, Favre played 9 games for the Skyhawks and amassed 1081 yards, 9 passing TDs, and only 5 INTs while maintaining a 71.1 % completion rate. Rushing-wise, Favre is the third-leading rusher who is returning this season for the UT-Martin Skyhawks with 191 yards and 1 TD in 79 rushes.
The Skyhawks return 6 offensive starters and 4 defensive starters to the squad this season. Offensively, they return the majority of their starting offensive line that is anchored by Redshirt-Seniors OG Matt Axline, who stands at 6′ 5″ and weighs 310 lbs, and LT Charles Sweeton, who stands 6′ 5″ and weighs only 291 lbs. With Sweeton’s size, he’s a quicker LT than what is usually seen on the gridiron, but may not be able to handle the bull-rush of a Chris Jones or Benardrick McKinney play-in and play-out.
On the defensive side of the ball, all four returning starters will be seniors this season. The leading returning tackler from last season is LB Tony Bell, who stands at 6′ 1″ and weighs 200 lbs. Bell’s stats from last year are certainly impressive: 80 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, 10.5 sacks, 3 forced-fumbles and fumble-recoveries. Senior DB Leon Carlton III will lead the secondary this season after a season that saw him have 40 tackles, 3 pass break-ups, 2 forced-fumbles, and only 1 interception. It does seem that the secondary may be the weakest point of this Skyhawk team, defensively, although both sides of the ball will be starting either a Junior or Senior this season.
Overall, UT-Martin will once again be a team that Mississippi State cannot afford to overlook with all of the talent that will be on the opposite side of the ball. If the Mississippi State team is rolling fairly well after the matchup against the Arkansas Razorbacks, I don’t see Mississippi State losing this game against the Skyhawks and we send Dylan Favre back with a loss.