- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Mississippi State returns several players from its two-deep last season and also gets a key player who was injured in the opener.
Spotlight: Offensive guard Justin Malone, 6-7, 320 pounds, rising junior
2013 summary: Malone was the Bulldogs' starter at right guard to open last season, but suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot in the first game against Oklahoma State and missed the remainder of the season.
The skinny: It's all lining up for the Bulldogs to have a big season on offense in 2014 , and really, a big season -- period. If quarterback Dak Prescott continues to blossom, the offense has a chance to be as explosive as it has been under Dan Mullen. Malone's health and development will be a key. The Bulldogs need a road-grader to emerge at guard with All-SEC selection Gabe Jackson departing. He's one of two seniors the Bulldogs are losing on the offensive line. Malone is plenty big enough and showed promise as a redshirt freshman when he filled in at guard while Tobias Smith was battling knee problems. Malone played in 12 games that season and started four. He was unlucky last season and went down in the fourth quarter of the opener against Oklahoma State. The most important part of this offseason for him is that he makes sure he's ready to go in the fall. The Bulldogs will have some experience up front with senior tackle Blaine Clausell and senior center Dillon Day returning. But to really get that offensive line where it needs to be, offensive line coach John Hevesy needs an enforcer at guard to slide in for Jackson, and that's where a healthy Malone comes in.
2dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf
3dEdward Aschoff and Greg Ostendorf