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Four things to pay attention to as MSU opens spring football




- Every single wide receiver 


Here's something to describe what MSU's passing attack lacked last year: MSU's leading receiver (Jesse Jackson) tallied 276 yards. Navy -- triple option team Navy -- had a receiver two receivers hit more than 300 yards; Georgia Tech had one hit 500. 


MSU desperately needs a couple of guys to show themselves as big play threats, be them good jump ball catchers or yards after the catch guys. The names I think you should look at: Jackson, Deddrick Thomas, Keith Mixon, Malik Dear, Reggie Todd, Jamal Couch and tight end Farrod Green. And all of that is to make no mention of the star-studded wide receiver class coming in. 


- Who is the alpha linebacker? 


Dez Harris did a lot for Mississippi State, much more than 56 tackles can prove. MSU has the talent to boast a very good linebacking corps even without him thanks to Erroll Thompson and Leo Lewis, but MSU needs someone to take over the adjustments that Harris would make postsnap. New defensive coordinator Bob Shoop suggested Thompson will be the guy, but I'm still going to watch with a close eye because there are going to be some changes to the defensive front that will need to be sorted out. On that subject.... 


- How is the defensive front configured? 


This is twofold, primarily because of Gerri Green. Green was listed as a linebacker last year and may have had the edge contain responsibilities of an outside linebacker, but he sure spent a lot of time up against the line of scrimmage as if he were a fourth defensive lineman. I don't think Shoop is going to copy that exact system, so the technique Shoop asks Green to play is going to be fascinating to see and have some trickle-down affects for the rest of the defense. 


Elsewhere on the defensive front: who joins Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons on the line? Braxton Hoyett proved serviceable last year, but there was a whole crew of other options behind him that all of a sudden have a fresh start with a new coaching staff in town -- including Chauncey Rivers, who is finally eligible.  


- No. 2 running back....again 


One of the big questions entering last season was who is going to be the primary spell back for Aeris Williams. In my mind, that question isn't answered: freshman Kylin Hill did some impressive things last year as his role certainly grew over time, but he had 78 carries to Nick Gibson's 45. Based on some of the running backs I've seen Moorhead use well, I can see both guys being effective in this system, so I'll be curious to see if either of them leaves spring with an advantage.



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