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August 30, 2018 7:41:34 AM
Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.
Today, since we are 2 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: I have 2 hot takes. Here they are.
1) Safety injuries could derail this defense.
This is really the only spot on the defense where, to start the season, there is a noticeable dropoff from the first string to the second. Take the week one depth chart, for instance: behind Mark McLaurin and Johnathan Abram are C.J. Morgan and Chris Rayford. Morgan has potential but is unproven; Rayford is transitioning from cornerback and we have no legitimate handle on how long it will take him to get comfortable. He could already be comfortable; or, he may need two months to get there.
Even beyond that, you're looking at possibilities such as Landon Guidry, moving Marcus Murphy from nickel to a safety position, etc.
My primary concern here is the big-play potential when you're green at safety. I realize the common response is going to be, "Can't throw downfield if you're constantly getting sacked," and I get it, I see it. However, let's not pretend it's realistic for a defense to get a sack or even pressure on every dropback. Several times, a defensive lineman is going to trip or get caught offguard by the snap and the QB will have time to go deep. I'm not saying this could make the defense bad, but in this hypothetical, it's certainly possible that a couple big plays per game take this defense from top 20 to top 40. I feel like that would be a disappointment, given all the hype.
2) Mississippi State is perfectly fine at running back, I don't care who plays.
I see a lot of takes in my mentions and elsewhere in the MSU internet mostly about Kylin Hill, how he is apparently the greatest running back to ever set face on planet Earth and how he will have all of the carries this year. All of you who followed me on Twitter last season know that I am a huge fan of Kylin's game -- I mean, I pronounced an Arkansas Razorback dead after one of his stiff arms -- but this entire group is good. The fate of the running back group is not based on Hill.
Hill will be a big part of this: I don't think there's any denying he is the best natural fit for this offense and I anticipate the numbers to show that. But, for all the interesting things this offense does, it still contains elements of lead, power and inside zone, and Aeris Williams is fantastic at all of that. He will see the field a good bit because his skillset demands it. Frankly, every team needs a runner like him, save for programs such as Texas Tech and Washington State.
I'm also a big believer in Nick Gibson's skills as a receiver out of the backfield. I do think there's a divide between him and the top two going into the season, but you need three running backs (at least) to make it through a season and I imagine that skill of Gibson's will make it easy for the staff to pull the trigger on giving Hill and Williams a breather, knowing Gibson has that element to him.
At the moment, MSU can do no wrong at running back, in my opinion. It only does right if it uses all three enough to be noticeable.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson