Schedule: The Bulldogs begin practice today and will conclude with Mississippi State's annual Maroon-White Spring Game on April 12 at 1 p.m. ET. Fourteen of the Bulldogs' practices will be open to the public.
What's new: Former offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Les Koenning left the Bulldogs to become the new wide receivers coach at Texas. Former Utah offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson was hired to coach Mississippi State's quarterbacks. Billy Gonzales and John Hevesy are listed as co-offensive coordinators.
On the move: Tight end Rufus Warren will get work at left tackle this spring. Dee Arrington is switching from safety to linebacker. Brandon Holloway, who is a real speedster, could have the chance to move from wide receiver to running back. Also, keep an eye on cornerback Justin Cox, who switched to safety during the Bulldogs' bowl practices last season. He worked well at safety during the week and could have a chance to play there this spring.
On the mend: Offensive guard Justin Malone is coming back from a season-ending foot injury that he suffered in last year's season opener. The Bulldogs are also hoping to get some work out of safety Jay Hughes, whose season ended with Malone because of an Achilles injury. Arrignton is also going to be limited this spring after suffering a season-ending injury last fall.
Question marks: With the reliable LaDarius Perkins gone, Mississippi State will have a relatively fresh start at running back. The coaching staff likes the depth it has there, but there isn't a proven back on the roster right now. Junior Josh Robinson did well as Perkins' backup last season, rushing for 459 yards and three touchdowns, so he'll have the early edge to replace Perkins. He's still learning to block and mature on the field. Behind him there is senior Nick Griffin, who is finally healthy for the first time and could push Robinson this spring. Obviously, not having Gabe Jackson means the Bulldogs have a pretty big hole to fill up front. Jammal Clayborn played last season as a freshman and could take Jackson's spot, but getting Malone back and at 100 percent is key for the line. The right tackle spot remains a mystery as well with Charles Siddoway gone. Johnson should compete with Damien Robinson and redshirt freshman Jake Thomas for that tackle spot.
Breaking out: The guy everyone is excited about on the defensive side in 2014 is defensive lineman Chris Jones, who could be a household name in this league before he takes off for the NFL. He only had three sacks last season as a freshman, but he eventually caught double-teams from opponents despite his youth. With his talent and skill, the former top-flight recruit could be special in 2014. Again, he'll get work at both end and tackle for the Bulldogs. Also, keep an eye on sophomore receiver De'Runnya Wilson, who caught 26 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns last season. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder is the total athlete and also suited up for the Bulldogs' basketball team. He's fast, has high football IQ and can really leap. He could be a good red zone threat and wouldn't surprise anyone by taking a starting job.
Don't forget about: Junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney returns as one of the SEC's top linebackers. With all the big names that come through this conference, McKinney has gotten lost in the shuffle at times, but he led the Bulldogs with 71 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks. Two years ago, he recorded 102. With Deontae Skinner gone, more onus will be put on McKinney this fall, but that shouldn't bother him. McKinney has a chance to throw his name near the top of the SEC linebacker board this season.
All eyes on: Of course everyone is waiting to see what quarterback Dak Prescott will do as the man in Starkville. This is his football team and he's even been viewed as a dark horse in the Heisman Trophy race with his dual-threat ability. He ended the 2013 season with two impressive performances in wins against Ole Miss and Rice. But the pressure is on. Prescott will see an increase in the attention he receives and the hype will only continue to grow. He has to continue to develop and make better decisions in the pocket. He can hurry throws too often and has to take care of the ball going forward.