The numbers do not lie. Last year Mississippi State ranked 16th nationally in rushing offense with 214.8 yards/gm, which was also good enough for 2nd in the SEC behind only Auburn. The passing ranks were not quite as impressive, 86th nationally with 186.5 yards/gm. However, Chris Relf finished strong in his final games. In the final three games (vs. Ark, @ Miss, and the Gator Bowl vs. Mich), Relf completed 70%of his passes for a combined 730 passing yards, 6 TDs and only 2 interceptions. He also rushed for 199 yards and 2 TDs over that span. On the year Relf accounted for 2,502 total yards and 18 total touchdowns.
Relf maintained the starting job through camp this spring and looks to improve on last years numbers. The dual-threat QB has most of the offense from last year back with him. Starting tailback Vick Ballard led the SEC with 20 TDs last season and has proved to be a workhorse as well as a skilled runner; he finished the season with 186 carries for 968 yds (5.2 yd per carry avg). Also, Relf’s favorite target, Jr WR Chad Bumphis who caught 44 balls last year for 634 yds and 5 TDs, is back. With these two security blankets, as well as his own running ability when things break down, Relf is poised to have a breakthrough senior season.
Starkville is buzzing with excitement for the coming season, and why not? The Dawgs kept Dan Mullen in town after last years impressive finish, extended the cowbell experiment another year, and are ranked 20th in this years AP and Coaches polls. The Bulldogs have not been ranked in the preseason since 2001. If Chris Relf can continue his development and play as well as he did at last seasons end, the Dogs could be looking at their first Western Division Title since 1998. All the pieces are in place for a great season and it is up to Chris Relf to put them all together. Watch for him.