Smith on Sports: Firsts keep coming for Moorhead

Danny P. Smith

Staff Writer

Just about everything Joe Moorhead has done lately as Mississippi State's head football coach has been a first.

In the season-opening game against Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 1, it was obviously Moorhead's first game to coach the Bulldogs and his first game at Davis Wade Stadium.

Moorhead coached MSU in his first road game at Kansas State the next week.

After Moorhead's second home game in Starkville last week when the Bulldogs crushed Louisiana 56-10, he experiences his first Southeastern Conference game this Saturday at Kentucky.

None of that seems to have fazed Moorhead so far and everything seems to have come easy in the first three games of the new era at MSU.

Moorhead knows nothing is as simple as it appears, especially now that the Bulldogs are on the verge of starting conference play.

With Kentucky, Florida, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, Alabama Arkansas and Ole Miss on the SEC slate, Moorhead said adversity will present itself at some point for MSU. He is anxious to see how the Bulldogs are going to handle it.

Blowouts in any of those games would be welcomed, but in a league as competitive as the SEC, it's not expected.

"We'd love for every game to go according to plan and win by a significant margin, but I just don't think that's the reality of it," Moorhead said on Monday. "So if you don't rise to the level of the situation, you fall back on the level of your preparation. I think everything we've done in spring ball and fall camp, we've talked about situational awareness and going through those things during the course of the week will prepare us if and when one of these situations arise."

That could be the case Saturday against the Wildcats.

Kentucky hasn't necessarily set the SEC on fire yet, but it seems the program has improved steadily under the leadership of coach Mark Stoops over the last couple of years.

This is the second-straight season the Wildcats have started a season with a record of 3-0 and the Wildcats have especially been good at home with an 11-3 mark in the last 14 games.

The biggest weapon for Kentucky seems to be running back Benny Snell Jr., who ranks 11th in the country in rushing yards per game at 125 and total rushing yards 375 for the season. He stands ninth among active FBS players in career rushing yards with 2,799.

Snell is a very talented runner and will present a test for MSU's stingy defensive front. The ability of the Bulldogs to be able to tackle Snell could be a key to what happens on the road Saturday.
Mississippi State should be able to go into Lexington and pull out a victory, but it won't be achieved without a fight.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.