MSU ranked No. 18 in preseason AP poll

Joe Moorhead

Staff Writer

There is now another indication that the expectations are high regarding Mississippi State’s 2018 football campaign.

The Bulldogs were ranked 18th in the preseason Associated Press poll released on Monday. It’s the highest preseason AP ranking for State since it entered the 1981 season ranked No. 14.

MSU was also ranked 18th in the preseason coaches poll released earlier this month.

First-year Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead has said his team is embracing all of the preseason hype surrounding the program.

"Hype and confidence are two things that I don't worry about with the team,” Moorhead said earlier this month. “We are a very confident group and I think we have a good reason. We have earned a right to be confident. In our initial team meeting, we addressed the preseason ranking and what it means. We set up the floor for keeping score. We want to be first. Obviously, the ranking at the end of the season matters more than the ranking at the first. The biggest thing is that we are not competing against an opponent. We're competing against a standard. If our level of preparation, effort and execution has changed on a weekly basis based on who we are playing, then we are going to be in trouble. If we compete against the standard in everything that we do, then I think on a weekly basis, you're going to see more of a consistent football team.

“I wish we were first (in preseason rankings). But, certainly, that ranking does mean anything when we tee off on [September 1]."

Injury report

Mississippi State was close to full strength at practice on Monday. Just three players donned yellow (non-contact) jerseys and at least one of those participated in drills.

Senior running back Aeris Williams was wearing a yellow uniform, but participated in drills during the media viewing portion of practice. Meanwhile freshman safety Shawn Preston and freshman receiver Cameron Gardner did not participate in practice as the media watched, but both worked out in the injury pit.

Others returned to action after missing time last week. Sophomore linebacker Willie Gay was back practicing. So, too, were senior tight end Justin Johnson, junior offensive lineman Tommy Champion and freshman receiver Devonta Jason.

It continued a trend of relative health for MSU this preseason. There have been no significant injuries up to this point.

“There’s no one out for an extended amount of time,” Moorhead said last Saturday. “Guys that are nicked up, we’ll work to get them all back this week.”

Preseason winding down

MSU will practice just twice more before concluding the preseason portion of training camp.

The Bulldogs will work out today, host their third scrimmage of the preseason on Wednesday, take a day off Thursday, then begin preparations for their September 1 season opener on Friday.

“After Wednesday’s scrimmage, we’ll get together as a staff, we won’t practice on Thursday, and kind of make our determinations of who the initial two-deep and travel roster are going to be,” Moorhead said. “Our first practice for (the season-opening game against Stephen F. Austin) will be Friday, so we’ll break into scout teams for Friday.”