djr-2019-09-08-sport-msu-moorhead-twp1

Joe Moorhead has seen Mississippi State's pass completions increase by nearly 20 percent in his second season as head coach. 

STARKVILLE Joe Moorhead arrived at Mississippi State having been named the National Offensive Coordinator of the Year in 2016 and 2017.

However, the Bulldogs’ offense didn’t exactly click consistently last season with Moorhead continuing his play-calling duties. MSU ranked 13th in the SEC in passing offense at 173.8 yards per game and were held to seven points or less in four of its five losses in 2018.

But two games into this year, the Bulldogs’ offense has flourished in Moorhead’s system. State has scored 38 points in each of its wins over Louisiana and Southern Miss and also shown balance – averaging 235.5 yards on the ground and 206 through the air.

The Bulldogs ran for 223.6 yards on average in 2018 so that part is nothing new. But the passing component has improved by 32.2 yards per game and the completion percentage is up from 51.1 percent to 70.6 percent, which is Mississippi State’s best connection rate through two games since 2001.

“When you have confidence on every call that’s on the sheet and if you call it something positive is going to happen, I think that allows you to maintain that level of aggressiveness,” Moorhead said. “Right now as it stands going through two games, you feel just as comfortable calling a pass play as you do a run play and that always wasn’t the case last year.”

MSU has more weapons at receiver this season and Kylin Hill is currently second in the country with 320 rushing yards. Hill is averaging 20.5 carries thus far in 2019 after only getting 10.6 rushing attempts per game last year.

“We’ve improved in the areas where we needed to the most,” Moorhead said. “...You’re seeing some of the same things we did in the running game from a production standpoint but more carries and a very specific manner to go to the running back and take them away from the quarterback. We’re doing a better job throwing the ball, a better job protecting, a better job getting open and when they are open, we’re doing a better job throwing it accurately which has allowed us to be pretty balanced.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

Twitter: @loganlowery

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