College football fans around the state can look forward to a big weekend as both Mississippi State and Ole Miss have spring games scheduled for Saturday.
If you are expecting to watch a regular style football game, don’t.
Typical spring games start off with the defense given a 27-0 lead and the offence then given the task of trying to score more.
The defense increases its point total through turnovers that lead directly to scores, whether by returns for touchdowns (6 points + PAT) or returns into field-goal range (3 points if FG made). In the latter, the field goal will be kicked on the next play after the return.
At the Regions Bank Grove Bowl in Oxford, many eyes will not necessarily be set on the players but on new coordinators, Phil Longo on offense and Wesley McGriff on defense. The Rebels struggled last year on the defensive side of the ball finishing 111th in total defense. McGriff was the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Auburn before coming back to Ole Miss. Longo was previously at Sam Houston State where he directed the nation’s best FCS offense.
“With Phil Longo and the new offense they are going to throw it all over the field. And then on the defensive side, the return of Wesley McGriff. They say it’s going to be a simple defense, an attacking defense,” said Richard Cross, co-host of the Head to Head radio show on Supertalk Mississippi.
The Regions Bank Grove Bowl will start at 11:00 am at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
In Starkville, fans of MSU can watch the Maroon/White spring game. Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs are coming off a 5-7 season and are looking to get back to their 2014 form, when they went 10-3 and played in the Orange Bowl.
One of the big questions facing this team is its defense and how new coordinator Tood Grantham will improve a system that finished 110th in total defense last season.
Former MSU quarterback and co-host of Head to Heady, Matt Wyatt, tells News Mississippi that he’ll be watching junior college transfers Johnathan Abram, a safety out of Jones County Junior College and Chauncey Rivers, a defensive end who transferred from East Mississippi C.C.
Wyatt added that spring games are a crucial part in the development of a player.
“State is probably expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 thousand at their spring game, so it will be a game like atmosphere. It will help you as a player to get you acclimated, and maybe a step towards getting you ready for those big crowds come fall,” said Wyatt.
The Maroon/White game will be held at Davis Wade Stadium. Start time is set for 3:00 p.m.