Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Senior triple threat led Mississippi State last season with 1,376 all purpose yards.

Mississippi State has been known as a ground and pound offense more times than not over the years. The 2015 Bulldogs amassed just 1,873 yards rushing, the fewest of the Dan Mullen era at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs return every ball carrier from a season ago not named Dak Prescott. Senior leader Brandon Holloway believes the 2016 ground game will improve over last season's numbers.

"I'm ready," Brandon Holloway said about the start of fall camp. "It's an exciting time. I am ready to get it started up. I think just being a senior it already puts that sense of urgency in you. I think we have a great team. We have great players. They have been working hard, a lot harder. Some of the young guys came up and they have been working hard and I am proud of them. I think we're going to have a big year."

In 2014, the Bulldogs raced to number one in what was a coming out party of sorts for quarterback Dak Prescott. That season, the Bulldog grinded out 3,030 yards of real estate on the ground. With Prescott now in the NFL, a new Bulldog signal caller will depend on a talented stable of running backs led by seniors Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert. 

"Dak was a great leader and I believe it puts a lot of pressure on the team in general," Holloway said of #15's departure. "It gives somebody else the chance to step up and we have great leaders that are stepping up and a lot of young kids that are trying to lead as well."

Mississippi State running backs' coach Greg Knox has an assortment of backs to chose from with Holloway perhaps providing a rather dynamic change of pace. The Bulldogs will look to spread defenses out and exploit mismatches created in space. 

While a big piece of the offensive puzzle is gone in Prescott, Holloway believes the players are in place to continue putting a prolific offense on the field each Saturday.

"I think we can be very explosive," Holloway said. "When you look at some of the playmakers like Fred Ross, Gabe Myles and Donald Gray. At running back we have a lot of versatility.

"If you look at our running backs, we have power backs like (Ashton) Shumpert and (Dontavian) Lee, but we also have people that have versatility like Aeris (Williams) who can do both. I just think working together opens it up and it makes it harder for people to defend us."

Lee and Williams had their first taste of college action a season ago as redshirt freshmen. Holloway believes the talented tandem will show some big things on the field this fall in Davis Wade Stadium.

"If you ever talk to Aeris and D. Lee, you can see that they are two of the hungriest people out here," Holloway explained. "I definitely think that they are really ready to get it started this year. I don't think their athletic ability was ever in question. I think they've gotten smarter in the (game of football)."

Versatility is the name of the game for Holloway himself who can provide big plays from the running back position, as a pass catcher and kickoff returner. Bulldog fans should expect more of the same form the Tampa, Florida native in this his senior season.

"That's what I want to bring is versatility," Holloway said. "I have been practicing a lot on catching the ball and running the ball and some different drills. I just want to be the person that they count on to make a play when they need one."

Holloway was initially recruited to play wide receiver out of Alonso High School. Over the course of his Bulldog career, Holloway transitioned into a ball carrier rather than a pass catcher. As his game has matured over the years, the Bulldogs have used him in certain situations out wide as a receiver once again.

"I think I have gotten a lot better at wide receiver, especially working with people like Fred Ross, Jameon Lewis and Chad Bumphis," Holloway explained. "Donald Gray has been helping on the receiving end and stuff like that."

Last season the Bulldogs took a by committee approach when it came to running back. With several talented options, Dan Mullen will likely adopt a similar approach until a true bell cow emerges.

"I would hope so," Holloway said of the multi-back philosophy. "I think we have a lot of great talent in the running backs here and I hope we have a lot of running backs that can play. I hope a lot of us can get touches."

The Bulldogs have just over four weeks of practice before they welcome the Jaguars of South Alabama to Starkville for the season opener for both teams. In the last meeting between the two programs, a 2014 affair in Mobile, the Bulldogs emerged victorious by a score of 35-3.


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