Ahead of the first Mississippi State football game of 2023, the folks here at Maroon and White Nation got together to chat about the Bulldogs (and other things).
The 2023 Mississippi State football season is upon us! It’s finally here. And we got our team together to chat about the Bulldogs.
The staff here at Maroon and White Nation got together for another chat. This time we’re talking about the start to the 2023 college football season and also the start to the 2023 Mississippi State football season.
Here’s our chat:
Maroon and White Nation staff roundtable: 2023 college football season preview
Ethan Lee: Before we get into previewing this week’s game, I’d love to get your thoughts on the 2023 college football season as a whole.
What excites you the most about this year (outside of MSU)? What are you dreading the most (outside of MSU)? Anyone watching some Pac-12 (Pac-4? Pac-2?) Big 12, Sun Belt, or FCS football with me this season?
Or if you don’t care about anything other than MSU, let’s go ahead and look at this weekend’s game. What’re you looking forward to most with this weekend?
Trey Burke: National realignment has overshadowed a change much closer to home, the announced death of Mississippi States division; for me, 2024 is a living wake for the SEC West and a lament of what is lost so SEC admins can move into tonier zip codes.Some of the games will remain, I’m sure. The league has already promised that each school will have a protected rivalry and the first stab at a post-division schedule has kept some of our favorite games in tact. But that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about.
The ladder match between too familiar rivals is done for.
There’s no more west to be sweated out in a heavyweight bout between LSU and Alabama. A&M and Arkansas won’t be forced to square off for 5th place in a sanitized NFL stadium more remniscient of a reluctant play date than a college football game. Arkansas also won’t get to play Ole Miss in the annual “Stupidest Thing You Ever Seen In Your Life” Bowl in which division contenders will deflate down the stretch. We also won’t get to see another Texas A&M team contend for a division title until their F-250 Texas Man Edition runs out of gas and State strips it for parts.
In 2024, State sees LSU and Auburn fall off the rotation. State – LSU is the most played game in the division and I’ll miss… nothing. To hell with that house-of-horrors game. Auburn on the other hand, has been an anxiety inducing, frustration fest for either side. State lost when an official forgot what a goal line was in 2011 and we forgot what football was in 2017. Similarly, many long-suffering State fans rejoiced at our 2014 ascension to #1 at the expense of Auburn and the biggest comeback in school history in 2021.
For over a decade, the West was home to the overwhelming favorite to win a national title and 5 or 6 armed toddlers playing king of the hill. I’m gonna enjoy the carnage one last time.
Andrew Miller: I’m incredibly excited to watch Iowa football attempt to average 25 points per game. That’s clearly the biggest story in the sport right now.
John King: Oh man Andrew, you stole mine! Can’t wait to see them pile on the targets to their tight end position en route to 25.00001 pts/game to save Brian Ferentz job.
I think Trey makes a lot of good points but I would like to counter that divisions are awful and Mississippi State’s best years of football came at a time when winning the west was virtually impossible and I will never forgive the dummies who created divisions for that
Trey Burke: Mixed feelings for sure!
Andrew Miller: The Big 10 West is the cradle of offensive innovation this year between Iowa’s race to 25 a game and Wisconsin going to the Air Raid
John King: Besides Iowa becoming an offensive, uh, “powerhouse”, I’m also interested to see the new crop of quarterbacks at Bama, Ohio State and Clemson. How are they going to perform relative to their predecessors? Will it matter for their teams’ CFP hopes?
Justin Strawn: I really don’t care enough about the national landscape to watch games in other conferences. I’ll pay attention to what happens but I rarely sit down and watch them.
As for State, we’re about to watch something incredibly unique due to some very unfortunate circumstances. State has an entire new philosophy and coaching staff, and it isn’t because they chose to. Will they be good, will they be bad? I don’t know and no one really does.
John King: I’m dreading the fact that it probably won’t hold those teams back and we’ll get the same names at the top of the rankings again
Andrew Miller: With Ohio State you at least have the benefit of throwing to Marvin Harrison Jr. Bama is wild because the skill talent there just isn’t same as it’s been before. But they should be strong up front and might just go back to old school bully ball. I think Clemson is going to be very happy they hired Garrett Riley as OC.
The biggest thing I’m dreading is more the future after this year. This is the last season with a normal Pac-12 and the Big 12 having its traditional powers. I’m not at all a fan of realignment, and I hate that we’re seeing so many rivalries ripped apart.But the flip side is that it should make for those games being incredible this year. So I plan to watch a ton of Pac-12 and embrace the last year of the Bedlam game.
And I’m definitely going to enjoy as much G5 ball as possible. We get midweek CUSA games in October this year which will be awesome
John King: I’m all for chaos ensuing in those conferences. Give me Oregon State as PAC-12 champs! Give me Oklahoma wetting the bed(lam)!
Ryan Strickland: I’m excited to see Washington and Michael Penix Jr. I think he has a real shot at the Heisman and Washington could be in the playoff with USC’s defense being very questionable and Oregon’s ability to not come through when they need to. Penix is just electric and I love Washington’s offense. Also excited to see what Garrett Riley can do at Clemson. I’m dreading the very possible Georgia 3 peat and the Hugh Freeze redemption tour if he somehow exceeds expectations right out of the gate.
Andrew Miller: Oh if AU pulls a big upset this year, the media coverage will be awful.
John King: Penix is exactly the type of player who could benefit from the big schools having unknowns at the QB position too
Andrew Miller: Pac 12 is the conference of QBs. Caleb Williams, Penix, Nix, Cam Rising, Cam Ward, Jayden de Laura, and I think DJ U will be much better at OSU than he was a Clemson
Ryan Strickland: Andrew touched on another team I’m excited to see and that’s Wisconsin. Luke Fickell as head coach and Phil Longo running the offense. Phil Longo potentially running a wide open offense in Wisconsin will be crazy. Really interested to see if they can get Wisconsin back into that top tier of the Big 10 as they move towards their own realignment and adding more programs.
PAC 12 is going to be a track meet week in week out and I can’t wait.
Andrew Miller: Whether or not Fickell ups Wisconsin’s recruiting will be the determining factor there. Wisconsin basically hit their ceiling as a program sticking to their Barry Alvarez philosophy before things got a bit stale. The Longo hire brings some new juice, and maybe that attracts better QBs and skill talent. But the Badgers have been limited by their recruiting throughout their run. Just not a lot of great talent in their region. But maybe Fickell gets more national guys to come to Madison.
2023 college football season preview: Are the Texas Longhorns back?
Andrew Miller: We must ask the question: is Texas back?
Ryan Strickland: I will say that they have a better chance of winning the Big 12 this year than they’ve had in years.
John King: Texas cannot be back until after they’ve left*
*the Big XII
Mississippi State football vs. Southeastern Louisiana preview
Ethan Lee: What’re y’all expecting this weekend? Mississippi State faces Southeastern Louisiana. Let’s chat about that
Andrew Miller: Biggest things I’m watching for:
1. How much do we show on offense?
2. Do we get a consistent pass rush
3. How do the new DBs hold up against some legitimately talented pass catchers for SLU?
Brooks Hill: I hope we run the ball on 75% of our offensive plays. It shouldn’t be an incredible challenge to score enough points to put this game away. Let the offensive line get comfortable with going downhill over and over.
If Matt Brock is “less emotional” than Arnett in his style of calling the defense and dialing up pressure, that is fine and probably for the best in more stressful situations. But in this game I would love to see some flying around by our midfield and DBs.
I am worried about Furdge the most, with his size. Matched up against a possible target that is bigger than him, how can he react to the ball/make open field tackles/shed blocks if needed?
Ryan Strickland: Since it is a FCS team, I’m not really expecting much outside of looking competent without a lot of mistakes, and winning big. I am expecting to see a lot of playing time for second and third team players and seeing who stands out when they have their time on the field. Hope to see Seth Davis and Creed Whittemore get a lot of playing time and see how they perform. Also my guy Kalvin Dinkins too. Want to see if there is a consistent pass rush against a lesser talented team like this and who is getting most of the pressure.
When there isn’t pressure, how the secondary does with the new faces in that area. Shouldn’t be much of a struggle at all from the start but should be able to tell how well some areas of concern are performing. Not expecting the playbook to be wide open but looking forward to seeing some different offensive formations, how players are utilized, and just getting a read on how Barbay is going to be as OC.
Expect to see a good bit of Mike Wright in the 2nd half too. I want to score on every drive but can’t lie that I’m excited to see Crimmins punt the football.
John King: I am very excited for our first game. Mainly because it’s our first football game in months.
Directional Louisiana shouldn’t be a tough matchup and I’m curious to see how much we can even learn about our team against them.
Evan Ertel: Personally, I’m excited to watch one of the most experienced QBs in the SEC in Will Rogers be handed the opportunity of a lifetime. Basically, this is my read on the situation he’s walking into for 2023: “You threw your arm out of of the socket the last two years, you had to learn the decision-making process, let’s throw you the book and see if we can hit the sun.”
Program-wise, I think we all know that we expect at least a bowl game and no one is really worried about that, given where things are currently. Put that in the back of your head and I think this team has incredible upside. There is boatloads of senior leadership, and I think that will do wonders for the locker room.
^ My thoughts on the season at large, not so much Saturday.
Ethan Lee: That’s a pretty good point about Rogers. Which, speaking of the quarterback situation, it’s intriguing. You’ve got Rogers, who has been instrumental in getting State back on track since the train wreck that was the end of the Joe Moorhead era, and then his backup is Mike Wright, who was instrumental in helping Vanderbilt actually find a way to win games. There’s not much depth there, but you’ve got some very valuable experience from guys who know how to help an underdog find ways to win.
Obviously you’d want more talent there and you’d definitely want more depth, but both of these guys are seniors who have played for programs that are often overlooked
(Someone is definitely going to get mad that I compared MSU and Vanderbilt)
Ryan Strickland: Yeah. Me.
Ethan Lee: That’s fair. I’m sure Joe Moorhead won’t like my comment either
Andrew Miller: I’m curious if we see Wright used in a package role, or if they just wait until the game is out of reach and then give him normal reps. I fully expect Wright to act as a Wildcat QB this year, but I could see them not breaking that out week 1.
Ethan Lee: Shotgun triple option. I demand it.
Evan Ertel: My main concern for Will this year is his ability to eliminate the unforced error. He had A LOT of those as he was learning the Air Raid system. Well, the system has changed again, but this new version hopefully will limit that “analysis paralysis” and allow him to be more decisive, than trying to make that next (unrealistic) read. Couple that with experience and receiver depth, and i like where we’re at.
Ethan Lee: Shotgun triple option with Will Rogers. I demand that now.
Andrew Miller: Or not
Evan Ertel: If I see Wildcat Week 1 vs SELA, I’m going to need numerous wellness checks throughout the weekend