Mississippi State Football: What to watch for in the spring game

Mississippi State football plays its spring game on Saturday. What should Bulldog fans be on the lookout for?

Mississippi State football’s Maroon and White Spring Game kicks off Saturday at 12:00 p.m. CT at Davis Wade Stadium for Super Bulldog Weekend. This will be Bulldog fans’ first chance to get a glimpse into what MSU football will look like under new HC Zach Arnett. What should the MSU faithful be watching for when the Dawgs take the gridiron?

1. Kevin Barbay’s offense

By far the biggest story of the offseason has been MSU’s transition away from Mike Leach’s Air Raid to a more traditional offense under new OC Kevin Barbay. We’ve made some educated guesses as to what that might look like, but Saturday is the first chance for fans to observe the system in action.

What concepts do they show? What formations and personnel groupings do they work out of? And most importantly, how well does the offense perform? That will be the center of attention this weekend.

2. Return of the Tight End

Something we do know we’ll see out of the offense is the Tight End position. Mike Leach famously didn’t use Tight Ends, but under Kevin Barbay, they’ll be heavily utilized.

Transfers Ryland Goede and Geor’Quarius Spivey won’t arrive until the summer. So to fill positional needs for the spring, some current Bulldogs have stepped up. WR Antonio Harmon and DL Jacarius Clayton have both made the transition to TE and will be State’s top options on Saturday.

3. Quarterback play

Nothing will be under more scrutiny on Saturday than how MSU’s QBs perform. Will Rogers enters his 4th season as signal-caller and now has the reigns to a brand new offense. Transfer Mike Wright brings a new dynamic with his rushing ability. And high profile freshman Chris Parson gets his first chance to flash the talent that has fans buzzing over him.

How much command does Rogers have of the offense? Does MSU have good options to back him up? Or could they even challenge him? The spring game can provide some clarity to those questions.

4. New faces in the Secondary

No positional group is experiencing more turnover in Starkville than defensive back. 4/5 starters from last season must be replaced, including a likely 1st round pick in CB Emmanuel Forbes. MSU loaded up in the transfer portal to address this.

High-profile transfers like Khamauri Rogers and Ja’Kobi Albert should see plenty of reps alongside less heralded veterans in Corey Ellington and Esaias Furdge. You hope to see multiple guys step up with so much turnover on the back end.

5. Young talent in the Defensive Front 6

Several of State’s top options along the defensive line and at linebacker are back for 2023, but they still have big holes to fill up front. With Mississippi State Football’s best pass rushers off to the NFL, players like D-Lineman De’Monte Russell, Deonte Anderson, and Kalvin Dinkins as well as Sam Linebacker John Lewis need to show they can become impact players.