Setting the alarm: Moorhead said challenge for Bulldogs this week is early game time

Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead calls a play during the Stephen F. Austin game.

Staff Writer

The schedule says Mississippi State battles Kansas State on the road Saturday morning but first-year MSU head coach Joe Moorhead believes one of the Bulldogs’ biggest challenges won’t necessarily be the Wildcats, but the the team’s first 11 a.m. kickoff of the season.

“To me, the challenge of it is as much the logistics and the timing,” Moorhead said. “We’ll have a 6:30 a.m. wake-up on Saturday morning. We’ll have some breakfast. As opposed to waiting an entire day, you’re touching your toes and going and the game is starting. The early kickoff time, in addition to the travel, will be the biggest thing we have to address.”

Mississippi State goes into Saturday’s game riding high following a 63-6 win over Stephen F. Austin. Kansas State meanwhile narrowly defeated South Dakota 27-24 last week.

The Bulldogs are looking to earn their first regular season win over a true Power Five opponent since a 1995 win over Baylor. To do so, Moorhead will have to get his first road triumph as MSU’s leader.

“Any time you go on the road, there are going to be obstacles and things you have to overcome – not being in your hotel, not being on campus and not being in your normal routine,” Moorhead said. “I think we have a good plan put together for our meetings (in Starkville) on Friday and then when we get to the hotel, the meetings at the hotel when we get the kids to bed for an early kickoff.”

Coaching staff awards

Moorhead revealed on Monday the MSU coaching staff’s internal selections for the program’s players of the week following the win over Stephen F. Austin.

Quarterback Keytaon Thompson was picked as offensive player of the week after tying a Southeastern Conference single-game record by accounting for seven touchdowns. Defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat were chosen as co-defensive players of the week. The two preseason All-SEC first-team selections combined for seven tackles for loss, two sacks and 10 total tackles. Dontavian Lee was selected special teams player of the week for recording three tackles.

Moorhead also announced awards for scout team players. Quarterback T.J. McMahon won the honor for offense. Safety Aadreekis Conner was picked on defense. The special teams honor was handed out to Cason Grant.
Additionally, linebacker and Starkville product Willie Gay Jr. as well as defensive lineman Chauncey Rivers were picked as student-athletes of the week. The duo was chosen by MSU’s academic staff.

Healthy Dogs

Moorhead said on Monday that MSU enters week two of the season in good health. There are still no significant injuries for the Bulldogs as prep for Kansas State kicks into gear.

“I keep knocking on wood because it’s working,” Moorhead said regarding staying lucky with injuries. “We just have some bumps and bruises. It’s nothing major. We anticipate all the guys that played in the game (last Saturday) – which was significant because we played a ton of people – should be good to go for (practice today).”

Moorhead reflects
on first game

Given a couple of days to think about it, Moorhead reflected back Monday on his debut as Mississippi State’s head coach at Davis Wade Stadium over the weekend.

"I think the Dawg Walk was an awesome experience to get off the bus and have all the fans there,” Moorhead said. “They show incredible support for our team heading all the way into the tunnel. We ran out of the tunnel to the cowbells, but just the whole experience of being an SEC head coach for the first time and winning the first game (was memorable). The fan support here in Starkville is phenomenal, and that'll be what stands out the most, aside from the win."