SEC MD17 2: Scouting Mississippi State

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Dan Mullen
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen speaks during the Southeastern Conference's annual media gathering Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.

Mississippi State Coach: Dan Mullen, ninth season (61-42, all at Mississippi State).
Last year: 6-7 overall, 3-5 in the SEC (T-5th in the West). Defeated Miami of Ohio 17-16 in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
Best case scenario: A year ago, many thought it would be almost impossible to replace QB Dak Prescott, but then the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Nick Fitzgerald came along and assaulted SEC defenses, leading the league in total offense and touchdowns. In 2017, Fitzgerald has an even bigger season and a much-improved defense under new coordinator Todd Grantham helps send the Bulldogs to a bowl game for the eighth straight season under Mullen.
Worst case scenario: The changes Mullen made on defense — hiring a new coordinator and adding several junior college players to the roster — do not produce the anticipated results and the Bulldogs continue to stagger on that side of the ball. A leaky defense is no way to navigate the treacherous SEC West, where trying to outscore the likes of Alabama and LSU is not the way to go.
Quotable: “We’re looking hopefully to make it to our eighth consecutive bowl game, which would be a great feat. One of the things when I came here was to build a program that wins on a consistent basis, and I think we’ve been able to build and do that, and I’m really proud of that, proud of our players, what they’ve been able to do for us.” — Mullen