After a three point loss in last seasons opener at AT&T Stadium against Tarleton State, the MSU football team rattled off 9 straight wins on the way to a 9-and-2 season and another trip to the NCAA playoffs. This year the Mustangs have a different look, 4 new starters on the O line, 3 new starters at wide receiver. Not to mention the departure of MSU starting QB Brandon Kelsey. So for the Mustangs this year is all about building chemistry, and for the MSU football team, even with plenty of new faces starting on both sides of the ball, according to running back Keidrick Jackson, the goals stay the same, "the goal we do have set is to win a national championship. First we want to win the conference. And then go on to win the national championship."
One familiar face is one of MSU's two preseason all american's running back Keidrick Jackson. Jackson fresh off rushing for 1,354 yards the second most in school history, and scoring a single season best 21 touchdowns. Who will be handing the ball off to Jackson though is still up in the air. Tulsa transfer and former rider raider Shavodrick Beaver competing for the starting job with Jake Glover, the red shirt junior who saw action in five games last year. And head coach Bill Maskill says he's like what he's seen, "it's been a good battle and i think we'll see them both play. Obviously Glover has had some game experience. More so than Shavodrick, and Shavodrick is probably a little bit better runner although Jake is also a strong runner. It just takes him a little longer to get going. But Jake is physical when he runs."
The question is how do the two players who will set up under center feel about the quarterback by committee approach that MSU is leaning towards in the first game of the year. According to Glover, they don't mind, "it's been fun competing. Me and Shavodrick are really good friends and we help each other out as much as we can. Every day he tells me what i'm doing wrong and i tell him what he's doing wrong. We go watch each other in the film room and we have each others back no matter what."
And Beaver feels the same way, "me and Jake just go out every day and try to give us the best look for Saturday's game. We just want to compete every day and give our all."
Of all that the mustangs do have coming back this year a bulk of their experience returns in the defensive secondary. Highlighted by safety Taiyon Jackson and corner back Neiko Conway. Conway leading the team in breakups and ranking 2nd in the LSC in interceptions. And Jackson grabbing an interception against West Texas A&M secured a Lone Star Conference Championship for the Mustangs. Jackson saying even though they're young, the defense will be even better this year, "the change from last year to this year is we have a lot of young players but they're all stepping up. It's a lot more focused than last year. At least on the defensive side of the ball.
Coach Maskill also agrees that the defensive secondary is a strength on this year's team, "i think our secondary is one of our strengths of our defense. They're experienced and quality and we've got some depth. We've got some kids that can play."
MSU begins this season just like they did last year, taking on Tarleton State AT&t Stadium. This season, he mustangs hoping to start off the season with a win.