The Mississippi State Bulldogs are often an afterthought in the overcrowded and hyper-competitive SEC West. But the Bulldogs had themselves a pretty good 2012 season, jumping out to a 7-0 start to the year, but stumbled down the stretch, finishing just 8-5. Misissippi State will be looking to improve on their strong start from last season and running back LaDarius Perkins will be the key.
Perkins was a major part of the offense in 2012, gaining 1,024 yards on 205 carries, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and scoring eight touchdowns on the ground. He also caught 19 passes for 160 yards with another pair of touchdowns while also acting as a kick returner, averaging just over 20 yards per return.
He’ll be loooking to do ever more for his senior season. To do that, he will need to finish the season stronger than he did a year ago. Through the first seven games, Perkins passed the 100-yard mark four times, highlighted by 179 yards and a touchdown against the Troy Trojans. However, over the final six games when Mississippi State was just 1-5, Perkins failed to surpass the century mark once.
For Mississippi State to avoid another late-season swoon, the Bulldogs will need to get more consistent effort from their senior tailback. He will have to be the steadying force for an offense that hasn’t found a consistent rhythm in the passing game. And in the rough-and-tumble SEC, the team that runs the ball is king.
With Perkins back for his senior season, the Bulldogs are set up nicely to be a force next season. If Perkins can step up and be a major contributor, improving on his 1,000-yard performance in 2012 and finding the endzone with more regularity, then Mississippi State should be in line for an excellent 2013.