Last season Mississippi State did something it isn’t used to doing, which is leading the Southeastern Conference in total offensive production per game with a 513.8-yard per game average.
When you step back and think about what the Bulldogs were able to do offensively, it is simply amazing considering where this team use to be with the ball in their hands.
But – what if I told you this team had an opportunity to be even better offensively in 2015 and could be much better with the help of another unit – the return unit. The return units are your kickoff and punt return units and they can either make or break an offense.
For Mississippi State in 2014, their punt return and kickoff return games left a lot to be desired. The Bulldogs averaged 19.93 yards per return when fielding a kickoff which was not far off a Dan Mullen worst in 2011, when his team managed only 18.85-yards per return.
For their efforts this past year, the Bulldogs starting field position was about their 29-yard line which ranked 72nd in the country when talking about starting field position. That is what makes last years offensive firestorm that much more impressive. The Bulldogs were one of the best in the country on sustaining long drive and getting the ball into the opponents red-zone – and scoring the football once there.
Can you imagine what an extra five yards could do for Mississippi State or heaven forbid ten? The further away you start from your own end zone, the more you can open up your offense – also it helps in regards to field position. If you get that extra 7-10 yards and are starting on the 35 or 39-yard line, one first down and a punt could pen your opponent inside their 20-yard line every time. That extra bump or potential bump on a kickoff return would do wonders for both the offensive and defensive units in Starkville.
The Bulldogs were not any better in the punt return department either. The Bulldogs averaged a very modest 5.96 yards per punt return last year with no returns for a touchdown. The Bulldogs actually haven’t returned a punt for a touchdown since 2011; a season that saw Jonathan Banks and Chad Bumphis both return a punt for a touchdown.
Fred Ross did come on the scene later in the year in 2014 and took over punt return duties. He averaged 10.71-yards per return on 7-returns so there looks to be potential there.
If the Bulldogs can somehow find the right guys to put in the return game in 2015 you could see this offense take it to yet another level and that would do nothing but help Many Diaz’s defense flourish.