Countdown to Kickoff: 12 Days

We’re counting down to MSU’s season opener against Oklahoma State on Aug. 31, giving you a significant number to ponder as August trudges on. Today’s number is…

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12.

MSU has Tyler Russell returning at quarterback, but he’s having to break in some inexperienced receivers. The biggest shoes to fill are those of Chad Bumphis, who caught an SEC-leading 12 touchdown passes last season. That accounted for 42.9 percent of MSU’s 28 passing TDs, 24 of which were thrown by Russell.

So who replaces that production this year? Nobody on this year’s team had more than two receiving TDs last year, with three returnees reaching that number: tight end Malcolm Johnson, receiver Robert Johnson and tailback LaDarius Perkins. Malcolm Johnson, who’s been banged up this preseason, has the ability to be a touchdown-maker, considering he’s led the team in yards per catch over the past two years. Perkins will be more involved in the passing game, but not to the extent that he would lead the team in TDs.

So what of RoJo? He showed signs of progress last season, and this a chance for the junior to make a big step forward. But the same could also be said of Jameon Lewis and Joe Morrow, both of whom have particular strengths that make them strong scoring candidates. And don’t forget about juco transfer Jeremey Chappelle and freshman Fred Ross.

You can bet that Russell will find ways to get the ball in the end zone, and it could be that there is a greater balance of distribution in TD passes this fall. As long as MSU is scoring, it won’t matter who or how.

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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