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Know Thy Enemy: The Bizzaro Dogs and The Pirate

Here comes the Air Raid...

NCAA Football: Abilene Christian at Mississippi State Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Location: Starkville, Miss.

Stadium: Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (61,337 capacity)

Notable alumni: John Grisham, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro

Head coach: Mike Leach, first season. 139-90 career coaching record

2019 season: 6-7 (3-5 in SEC)

Offense

The Bizarro Dogs lived up to their name when a bowl trip to Nashville was not enough to prevent a coaching change, and brought in Mike Leach. His Air Raid offense can be a handful at times, and it may be good for Georgia that this game is in the first year of an offensive transition.

The Pirate has options at quarterback, though MSU figures to use less of the passer’s running ability. KJ Costello is aboard as a graduate transfer from Stanford alongside Garrett Shrader and Vandy transfer Allan Walters.

Could Leach’s offense rely more on the ground game? It could due to Kylin Hill being in the background if the adage is to adjust to personnel and not out square pegs in the round holes.

More passing will mean more chances to haul in catches and gain experience on the go for State’s receivers, who lost four of their top five pass catchers from last year. Look for Osirus Mitchell, who had 430 yards and six touchdowns to be along the leading targets along with Tyrell Shavers.

Scott Lashley from Alabama and Cole Smith from LSU transfer in to augment an offensive line with two returning starters. They’ll be part of a group with the unenviable task of having to pick up a whlly new offense and blocking scheme.

Defense

Offense is not the only place of transition for the Bulldogs as the unit adjust to a 3-3-5 scheme. That said, the experience of Marquiss Spencer and Jaden Crumedy should helo a great deal up front along with a linebacker group led b Erroll Thompson.

CJ Morgan and Marcus Murphy should be leaders in a secondary that was riddled by injuries last year. If Leach’s quick-strike offense gets going, this group may be under heavy strain and get little rest, raising the importance of younger players learning on the fly.

Special teams

Matt Brock, whose special teams units were ranked 15th and 31st the last two years at Washington State is at MSU. Part of this group’s draw will be a place kicking battle between Jace Christman and Arizona State transfer Brandon Ruiz.

State also has the task of replacing both of last year’s top kick returners.

Prediction

This one could have shades of the 2017 Mizzou game scribbled all over it. Late in the season with time for Leach to further install his offense could spell a beartrap for Georgia, who wins it 45-24.

Go Dawgs!