Mississippi State football fans are hoping for an improvement over 2019, and these are some areas where we should see immediate improvement.
To say the Mississippi State football team will improve on offense and defense is taking a rather broad look at it. With Mike Leach bringing his pass offense acumen and new defensive coordinator Zach Arnett returning the Bulldogs to a 3-3-5 defense, there is certain to be some progress made.
But specifically, what will improve based on what the coaches bring to the table, what was already stocked on the shelves, and what new talent is coming in?
There are five key areas where we’ll likely see some big strides made by the Bulldogs during the 2020 season. Maybe not all at once, but by year-end, the difference will be seen.
5 Mississippi State football 2020 areas of improvement
No. 5: Opponent Long Pass Plays
The Bulldogs ranked 103rd in the nation in long pass plays surrendered in 2019, surrendering 129 plays of 10 yards or more, with 25 of those going for more than 30 yards.
Arnett has a pedigree in teaching linebackers how to work better in pass coverage, and the schemes he will be employing — if similar to what he did at San Diego State — will rely heavily on safeties recognizing where help is needed.
The Bulldogs have a couple of young stud inside linebackers joining the team in 2020 in Rodney Groce Jr. and Tyrus Wheat. They’ll be taught to keep that zone in the middle of the field from opening up to long plays and keeping the ball (and receiver) in front of them.
There are a couple of other 4-star athletes joining the squad, including cornerback Emmanuel Forbes, who will help to tighten up the coverage on the outside. This new blood along with more focused coaching from Arnett’s staff should show some big dividends in the pass coverage.