1. Replacing Dak Prescott is the biggest sup-plot for this team. What's the status there, and who are the players involved?
Right now, Mississippi State has four quarterbacks that could be called in the hunt to replace Dak Prescott. Damian Williams, a redshirt junior, has the most game-experience of the crew. He played a crucial role in helping the Bulldogs become bowl eligible in the 2013 season.
Nick Fitzgerald has been seen by some to be the odds on favorite to take the position. He took the most snaps other than Prescott last season, and he looked pretty good in games. Many have seen his main competition as Elijah Staley, who has missed a bit of practice time because of injury in the past.
The dark horse in the race would be Nick Tiano. He has not taken a live snap, but he looked rather good in the spring game.
2. Any major surprises during spring drills?
I think things have played out as fans would have expected. No one has wrapped up the quarterback battle. The running back position and the offensive line need to show that they are ready for next season.
The biggest surprise might be that with an all new coaching staff, the defense has, at times, looked ahead of the offense this spring.
3. Any disappointments or causes for concern?
The Bulldogs lost one of their top returning receivers when Fred Brown was dismissed from the university. They also have not had the services of Donald Grey or Fred Ross during the spring.
While it is disappointing to lose Brown and to not get practice out of Grey or Ross, it has provided others the opportunity to step up to contribute as wide receivers.
The offensive line did not look as it should in the spring game, so that is a concern. Quarterback play has also been a bit erratic, which is not good for an SEC team.
4. The defense loses a pretty good player in Chris Jones, and a very good coordinator in Manny Diaz. But the top seven tacklers are all back and Peter Sirmon has a solid reputation. How's that side of the ball looking?
The Bulldogs have looked pretty strong on defense. In the secondary, Brandon Bryant has the potential to be a difference maker. The linebacker position will be the strength of this defense. On the offensive line Jonathan Calvin has been a beast, especially in the spring game. By looking to use some 3-4 with an outside linebacker that can put his hand in the dirt, Sirmon is getting his best players on the field.
5. State's likely to be picked near the bottom of the SEC West in the preseason polls, but what are fan expectations for this team?
I think fans are willing to withhold judgement until the quarterback position plays out. I think the Bulldogs and fans would be happy with an 8-4 or 9-3 season in what needs to be a transition season, not a rebuilding one.
My hunch is the bottom of the division is too low. I figure the Bulldogs will finish between 3 and 5.