STARKVILLE • Joe Moorhead will open his second fall camp at Mississippi State today as the Bulldogs look to build off an 8-4 season and an Outback Bowl appearance in 2018.
MSU takes to the practice fields behind the Seal Football Complex at 6:25 p.m. for the first practice and will don full pads on Wednesday. The Bulldogs will also conduct three scrimmages on Aug. 10, 17 and 24 leading into their season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette on Aug. 31 in New Orleans.
“I’m excited for the season,” Moorhead said. “I am very cautiously optimistic because of the holes we have to fill and fired up about the talent we have. We are going to have to take it a one-at-a-time mentality once fall camp starts. One rep, one drill, one period, one day, one practice and keep stacking those on top of each other.”
State returns 13 starters and 49 letterwinners from last year but must replace seven starters on defense, including three NFL first rounders and the entire defensive front.
Moorhead and the Bulldogs are also tasked with finding a new starting quarterback. Junior Keytaon Thompson exited the spring atop the depth chart and is 2-0 as a starter in his career, but will be pushed in camp by Penn State graduate transfer Tommy Stevens, who enrolled at Mississippi State in June.
“Tommy is a kid with a lot of physical tools,” Moorhead said. “He has a strong arm and can really run. He’s accustomed to the system so he’s going to understand it for the most part coming in.
“I think he brings a lot of talent to the position, and I think the competition is going to be an exciting one. It’s going to make the position better, it’s going to make our offense better, and it’s going to make our team better.”
Although Mississippi State led the nation in total defense last year, the Bulldogs’ offense proved to be inconsistent. MSU managed over 400 yards of offense in seven games last season but scored seven or fewer points in four other contests.
“I think in Year 2 you want to see an increase in the understanding of the scheme,” Moorhead said. “You want the players to have a better understanding and execution of it, but you also want to see your culture take over a little more and the kids understand what the coaches expect from them and in turn what they can expect from us.”