To get some insight into the offensive changes underway at Mississippi State and find out about the ringing sound you'll hear in Starkville, we asked a few questions of Jeremy Flint from For Whom The Cowbell Tolls, the State blog on SB Nation.
What is success for Mississippi State this year? A bowl game, or more?
I think a bowl game is always a goal. We were literally a few plays away from a bowl game last season. Mullen has stated on several occasions that his goal every year is the SEC championship. I still think we may be a year or two away from serious contention for that, but I think a trip to the Liberty Bowl or Music City Bowl would show improvement to the fan base. Our schedule looks tough this year with home games against Auburn, Georgia, Houston, Kentucky and Arkansas and road games at LSU, Florida, Alabama and The School Up North, but we should be able to get at least 7 or 8 wins.
How would you like to see the quarterback situation resolved, and how do you think it will be resolved?
I think it is obvious that Chris Relf is going to be No. 1 going into the fall. Everyone is anxious to see what Tyler Russell can do, but he still has 4 years left to play. It would be great for him to work the No. 2 slot this year and learn the system more. Relf is a Tebow-esque QB with a strong arm and the ability to run. His running ability will help offset the loss of Dixon in the backfield and give us that extra option when we need it. If his accuracy can improve, especially on the long ball, he could be a great QB for us this year.
Obviously, the loss of Anthony Dixon is a huge problem for the offense. How confident are you in the ability of Robert Elliott and/or Vick Ballard to take over?
I am very confident. Elliott is more of a Norwood style runner, cutting and slashing through the gaps. Ballard has more size to him and will be more of a bruiser-type back, which is what Dixon was. There is no one person that can replace an Anthony Dixon, but I don't think we are shallow at the halfback position this year.
How long will it be before Mississippi State challenges in the West -- or, at least, how long do fans expect it to take to challenge in the West?
I would give us another year, maybe two. Mullen will get his legion of wide receivers (he is always saying we need more WRs) and get the system fine tuned. It is obvious he can coach -- there is no other explanation for us being "in the game" against LSU and Florida as late into it as we were.
What is it with the cowbells?
Ah yes, the greatest tradition known to man. They seem to be making headlines again as the SEC unfairly penalizes our traditions and home field advantage. All I can say is that they can have my cowbell when they pry it from my cold, dead hand.
Thanks to Jeremy for answering our questions, and be sure to check For Whom The Cowbell Tolls for all your Mississippi State news and commentary.