Mississippi State’s offseason quarterback competition got really interesting this month as Penn State graduate transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens announced he would finish out his collegiate career playing for Joe Moorhead in Starkville.
It will be a reunion for Mississippi State’s head coach and the quarterback as Stevens spent two seasons playing for Moorhead at Penn State. The connection between the two is stronger than most may realize, as they kept in contact all throughout last season. While junior QB Keytaon Thompson’s path to the field was clear prior to this decision, Steven’s addition complicates the offseason competition in Starkville and should make for one of the better training camp battles in the SEC.
During his time at Penn State, Stevens was used all over the field and actually saw more action on the field at running back and receiver than quarterback due to the fact the team had Trace McSorley under center. Considering he hasn’t logged many snaps on the field strictly as a quarterback, Mississippi State fans may be wondering just what they are getting with the addition of Stevens.
During a recent appearance on “The Paul Finebaum Show,” Moorhead was asked what his program expects to get from its new quarterback.
“He has excellent size, 6’4″, 6’5″ and 230-pound range, at his time at Penn State, right around a 60 percent passer so he is a thrower who can run, not a runner who can throw,” Moorhead said of Stevens on the show. “Right around eight yards per carry if I’m not mistaken. In my two years there, we used him in a variety of capacities — quarterback, got him the ball on handoffs, I think caught a touchdown pass or two. Multi-skilled athlete but most importantly, he can really throw the football.”
For Mississippi State fan eager to know when Stevens plans to arrive in Starkville, the quarterback shared that he is already on campus Thursday morning:
— Tommy Stevens (@TMS_II) May 30, 2019
MSU fans are hoping Steven’s addition will help correct the team’s offensive issues, which resulted in Moorhead’s team being shutout by Alabama, and scoring a combined 16 points in losses to Florida, LSU and Kentucky. Finebaum asked Moorhead to share insight on the offense looking “out of sorts” at times last season.
“I think that’s a good observation. The losses sting more than the wins feel good,” Moorhead responded. “Certainly as an offensive guy with my background, 46-18 record as a head coach and all the things that led me to this point, the type of defense that we played all season — No. 1 in the SEC and one of the tops in the country — and to have those four games against LSU, Alabama, Florida and Kentucky where we fell short of my expectation level and our team’s expectation level offensively, those are the ones that sting the most; because we are better offensive team than that.”
Much was made of Mississippi State hiring a coach with no experience in the SEC to replace Dan Mullen last offseason. During his first year in the league, Moorhead said one of the main takeaways was the fact that there is no margin of error in the SEC.
“When people ask, ‘What was the transition like to the SEC and what did you learn in Year 1?’ To me, the learning experience, it was a validation that the margin of error is minuscule and every single week,” Moorhead said. “Whether it’s a West opponent or an East opponent, you have to be on your A-game or you could get knocked off and I love the challenge of competing in the best division in all of college football.”