The Crimson White caught up with Garrett Smith, the sports editor of Mississippi State’s student newspaper, The Reflector. Here’s all you need to know about the Bulldogs as the Crimson Tide prepares to travel to Starkville.
Editor’s note: Some answers have been edited due to space constraints or for clarity.
Q: Year Two of the Joe Moorhead era hasn’t gone as expected. What was the expectation entering this year and what has gone wrong?
A: Fans expected Moorhead to take a step in the right direction. With a quarterback he personally recruited in his arsenal and Kylin Hill returning, it seemed like the Bulldogs could easily get to eight wins. However, suspensions and injuries got the better of MSU, and it’s been all downhill since.
Q: Moorhead has been linked to the Rutgers head coaching vacancy. Have things really regressed to where he might leave Mississippi State for Rutgers?
A: I highly doubt it. It seems much more likely that the Bulldogs will go another direction next season, rather than Moorhead leaving on his own.
Q: Where does the quarterback controversy stand? It certainly seems like [Penn State graduate transfer] Tommy Stevens hasn’t been as good as advertised.
A: I think a healthy Tommy Stevens is as good as advertised. We just have not seen that since the first half of week two. While Garrett Shrader is certainly the future of MSU football, I think the Bulldogs will stick with Tommy if he can remain healthy.
Q: How would you describe Kylin Hill as a runner and what he means to the offense?
A: Kylin Hill is an elite SEC running back. End of sentence. He has the speed, the strength, and the highlight reel moves to be truly great. He has had some amazing performances this year, and the Bulldogs have needed every last one of them.
Q: The defense lost three first-rounders (Jeffery Simmons, Montez Sweat, Johnathan Abram) from last season’s elite defense. How has the team replaced that talent? Can it win the line of scrimmage against Alabama?
A: Simply put, MSU has not replaced their talent from last year. Players like Lee Autry and Willie Gay, who could feasibly perform at the same level as some former Bulldog greats, have spent much of the year suspended. Without them on Saturday, the Bulldogs will have a nearly impossible task facing the Crimson Tide offensive line.
Q: What does Mississippi State have to do to win this game, or at least make it tight in the fourth quarter?
A: Nothing short of a miracle will keep this game close. Mississippi State social media is buzzing with jokes about the Bulldogs facing a ticked off Alabama team, but most of them are not really jokes. Alabama is already good enough, and with them looking to bounce back after a loss to LSU, Mississippi State will struggle just to put points on the board.
Q: What is your score prediction and why?
A: 48-17. Our red zone defense has been really good, and it seems likely the Bulldogs force a field goal or two. I think having Stevens healthy will also result in more offensive production.