The Mississippi State Bulldogs had a terrific start to the 2014 season. The team started off 9-0 and climbed all the way to the number one ranking in the country before finally falling to eventual SEC Champion Alabama.
While the season didn’t end the way the team would have hoped it would (they lost three of their last four, including a 49-34 dredging in the Orange Bowl), head coach Dan Mullen says that people shouldn’t be counting them out so early. He told College Football Talk that he feels like their team is much farther along maturity and experience-wise than even he could have expected.
“To me, if you want to look at the experience of a team, look at career snaps,” Mullen explained while meeting with the media this week as fall camp started. “How many times have they played a live snap in a game? If a kid has played over 150 snaps during his career, he’s played a bunch of football. If he’s played over 150 snaps in his career, you’ve played well over three full games in your career on the field. So if you have those types of numbers, to me you have the experience to go play.”
Currently, Mississippi State’s returning roster only has a total number of 124 career snaps. That is the lowest total in all of the SEC and ranks 122nd in the nation with total snaps with returning players. The Bulldogs, and myself quite frankly, do not believe that these numbers will mean much in the end.
Tennessee leads the SEC with 233 total snaps with returning players with Vanderbilt and Ole Miss come in the top three with 232 and 231 respectively. Two of those three teams are expected to make bowls this season, but Ole Miss is the only team in the top three that is expected to compete for a division championship.
For the record, Temple leads the country with total snaps of returning players with 260. I wouldn’t exactly consider them a national title contender this season.
When it comes down to it, you can either have a team full of freshmen or a team of nothing but experienced veterans, it all comes down to who wants it more. Mullen and the Bulldogs are looking to prove that last season wasn’t just a fluke and with Dak Prescott returning for possibly another Heisman Trophy-like season, I think it’s safe to say they are in good hands.
The Bulldogs open the season on September 5 when they play the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on the road.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports