Joe Moorhead

Joe Moorhead is recruiting well, but that needs to lead to more offensive production and wins for the 2020 season.

Sitting here wondering if any Mississippi State fans are really kicking rocks and pounding sand while still scratching their heads.

I have learned since my column earlier in the week that “most” MSU fans are in favor of Joe Moorhead. I am not sure about “most” but there are a lot more than I thought who believe in Moorhead going forward.

Anyone who can’t see how far the program has fallen behind since Moorhead took over for Dan Mullen, who bolted after 10 years for Florida, needs to remove the maroon and white glasses.   

Moorhead may very well turn out to be a fine SEC head coach in the years to come. John Cohen is sure betting on it.

I have said it ad nauseam, but Moorhead just doesn’t seem to fit at MSU, and not because he is a “yankee.” Remember, he reminded us of that after his big Egg Bowl win — speaking on his place in the MSU program, his desire to drive the team forward and, most startling, his indifference toward his own doubters.

“This is my team, my school and my program,” he said. “They’re going to have to drag my Yankee ass out of here.”

Let me interrupt, here. Anyone who has to tell people “this is my team ... and my program” is just the opposite. But hopefully I am wrong. I will be glad to write about that one day if he proves me wrong.

“This narrative gets created by people who aren’t involved in the decision-making process,” Moorhead continued. “And I understand at times this year we didn’t play like we needed to play. I mean I talked about the suspensions and the injuries and all those things that go into it and playing the third-toughest schedule in the country and every team that we’ve lost to is bowl-eligible.”

“Fit” is a word I have used many times in this discussion. It has nothing to do with where he is from, but more about what I have seen from him over the last two years.  

Whether Moorhead is a cultural fit at Mississippi State can be debated, but what people seem to gloss over is that Mullen was born in the same state as Moorhead: Pennsylvania. Mullen also went to high school in a state even farther north: New Hampshire.

Now, some players are much better than others. Some coaches are much better than others as well. With each loss, Moorhead isn’t doing himself any favors to fall on the right side of that line. But it’s probably not fair to say that it isn’t working just because Moorhead is from Pittsburgh and doesn’t have deep roots in the South.

SEC Network host Paul Finebaum, who was in Starkville earlier in the season for a pair of shows, said he picked up an unusual reaction about Moorhead.

“Guys I was there last week as I told you, and there’s just a really weird feeling about him and we can all say in unison he’s a nice guy and smart guy and we all like him, and those things are true. He just doesn’t feel like the right coach for Mississippi State.”

Ok, I get it. Paul and I may be in the minority, but things just seem a little off with this situation. And what about the offensive ineptitude is what bothers me so much. And it sounds like it was a major hang-up for Cohen.

Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported last Saturday Moorhead met with the athletic director to discuss the trajectory of the program. And though details of the meeting have not been disclosed, it’s fair to assume the MSU offense was at the center of the discussion.

Moorhead’s teams have downright struggled in his two years at the helm at MSU. Boasting the SEC’s all-time leading rusher at quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald, the Bulldogs concluded 2018 ranked 71st nationally in total offense.

As an encore performance, MSU finished the 2019 regular season as the 65th-best offense in America riding SEC rushing leader and Columbus native Kylin Hill — whose 1,347 yards are just 44 yards short of Anthony Dixon’s single-season record.

Over that same span, the MSU passing offense has also struggled to a middling 174.5 passing yards per game.

But, hey, I am moving forward with the rest of the Moorhead supporters while hoping I am wrong.

On field issues aside, Moorhead has taken a noticeable step up on the recruiting trail since arriving at MSU. Prior to his tenure, Mullen — now at Florida — never brought in more than two straight classes ranked in the top-30 of 247Sports.com’s composite team rankings.

So all Bulldogs fans have that to keep them happy during the holidays.  

nContact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or bburrus@gwcommonwealth.com.

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