It's a question I've been pondering for a while – as I'm sure all of you have, too – and it's something I'll tackle more in depth in the future. The question: Who will be running Mississippi State's offense next season? And the offshoot of that question: Where does Chris Relf fit in?
When he was suspended for two games midseason, there were whispers that Relf was done making contributions to the Bulldogs. In the two games prior to his suspension, against LSU and Georgia Tech, Relf rushed for a total of 20 yards and passed for 46 (on one pass). After his big-time performance in MSU's 41-27 win over Ole Miss – 131 yards, one touchdown rushing; 43 yards, two TDs passing – it's quite clear that Relf can be a huge factor in Dan Mullen's spread offense.
Relf has two years left, but redshirt Tyler Russell was recruited as the QB of the future. When Mullen recruited the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Russell, he told him, "You need to jump up and say, 'I wanna be your quarterback. I wanna lead this program in the future.'" Mullen said earlier this fall that if Russell had been able to enroll early and go through spring practices, he would've been right in the middle of the competition for starting QB.
Russell is a different sort of a quarterback than Relf, more of a pocket passer. Relf completed 22 of 41 passes (53.7 percent) for 283 yards, five TDs (one more than Lee) and three interceptions. He and his teammates insist he's a good passer, and we know he's got an arm, but the sample size is too small to make a final judgment on that. Which means it's hard to say if he's able to be a full-time starter.
He's certainly got the dual-threat makeup Mullen prefers in his quarterbacks. But Mullen also is willing to scheme around his personnel, and he can win with Russell.
And then there's Cameron Newton, the four-star prospect who left Florida after some legal troubles and is now starring for a junior college in Texas. He's 6-6, 245 pounds, and would seem the perfect fit in State's offense. He visited campus for the Egg Bowl, and with his ties to Mullen, there's a strong chance he'll come. And if he comes, there's an even better chance he'll start.
And that would leave Russell on the bench for two years. Relf, being of a similar style, could be a guy you sub in on occasion to mix things. Mullen said earlier this season, however, that Russell "is not a package quarterback." Maybe that could change, but if not, Mullen has an awfully good player riding the pine.
This will be the hot button issue this offseason, especially if Newton signs with MSU. So, who do you think should take over the offense next season?