Hot topic: Mississippi State QB battle story of preseason

The main story of Mississippi State’s preseason camp is the two-man quarterback competition between last year’s backup Keytaon Thompson and Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens.

Posted: Aug 5, 2019 9:10 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — The first question for Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead following the Bulldogs’ initial preseason practice was a tongue-in-cheek inquiry about whether the much-anticipated quarterback battle had been settled after just one session.

The second-year coach grinned and played along.

“Right after stretch we picked one,” Moorhead quipped.

If only it were that easy.

The main story of Mississippi State’s preseason camp is the two-man quarterback competition between last year’s backup Keytaon Thompson and Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens. The winner will be expected to improve the Bulldogs’ passing offense, which was inconsistent on good days and awful on the bad ones last season.

If Moorhead has identified a leader in the QB race, he’s not letting anyone know. Like most coaches, he’d like to know his starter sooner than later, but won’t rush the decision.

“It was one practice in helmets and shirts, installed about four or five passes,” Moorhead said after the first workout last week. “They all had their moments. Just excited to see how the competition plays out.”

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Thompson showed moments of promise as the backup to Nick Fitzgerald over the past two seasons. He threw for 458 yards last season, six touchdowns and just one interception while also running for 226 yards and four touchdowns.

But a career completion percentage of less than 50 percent is a problem. Moorhead has made it known in the past that he’d like that number up in the 60s.

Thompson said the coaching staff did a good job of communicating Stevens’ arrival and it didn’t affect how he prepared for preseason camp. He said Stevens is “a great guy” and that their relationship is good.

“There’s always competition and you want go out there and get better, no matter who is behind you or who is in front of you,” Thompson said. “You still want to be the best player you can be.”

The 6-5, 236-pound Stevens was a versatile backup for the Nittany Lions the past three seasons, playing behind Trace McSorley. The graduate transfer has thrown for 304 yards in his career, including four touchdowns while completing 58.5 percent of his throws.

He’s also run for 506 career yards and eight touchdowns and even caught 14 passes.

Moorhead was the offensive coordinator at Penn State before arriving at Mississippi State and had a previous relationship with Stevens. When the quarterback decided to transfer, Starkville was a natural fit since he already had broad knowledge of Moorhead’s offense.

Stevens said some of the terminology is different than at Penn State, but his comfort with Moorhead makes it a better situation than a normal transfer might experience.

“Knowing the system and really this being my fourth year in this offense,” Stevens said. “I guess it makes me the most experienced person here in this offense and helps me be a coach at some point. Help those guys learn.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 159036

Reported Deaths: 3879
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10563104
Hinds10414204
Harrison7397113
Jackson6655128
Rankin6057107
Lee540396
Madison5120107
Forrest394786
Jones376188
Lauderdale3663147
Lafayette341053
Washington3321108
Lamar301950
Oktibbeha255262
Lowndes252867
Bolivar248084
Panola237353
Neshoba2280122
Marshall225051
Leflore211191
Monroe209778
Pontotoc208131
Lincoln200566
Sunflower194155
Warren183058
Tate180451
Union172926
Copiah170840
Pike166760
Scott161330
Yazoo161340
Itawamba159936
Alcorn159328
Pearl River158969
Coahoma155943
Prentiss154931
Simpson154053
Adams147252
Grenada145445
Leake141844
Holmes134461
Covington130040
Tippah130030
George129525
Winston128726
Hancock127641
Wayne123024
Attala122834
Marion121447
Tishomingo114043
Chickasaw110732
Newton110529
Tallahatchie99427
Clay96127
Clarke94853
Jasper87023
Stone82015
Calhoun79513
Walthall79330
Montgomery78426
Carroll75515
Lawrence74614
Smith74216
Yalobusha74228
Noxubee73317
Perry68726
Tunica63019
Greene62422
Jefferson Davis59617
Claiborne59216
Amite57615
Humphreys55219
Quitman5107
Benton50418
Kemper48018
Webster47714
Wilkinson40722
Jefferson38312
Choctaw3637
Franklin3635
Sharkey32917
Issaquena1214
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 256828

Reported Deaths: 3711
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson34214511
Mobile20299366
Madison13925150
Tuscaloosa13591156
Montgomery12659238
Shelby1095877
Baldwin9163137
Lee792566
Morgan710851
Etowah677467
Calhoun6695121
Marshall665757
Houston548239
DeKalb504738
Cullman472043
St. Clair451857
Limestone447546
Lauderdale436054
Elmore427564
Walker3818111
Talladega374457
Jackson350723
Colbert336443
Blount310043
Autauga287342
Franklin259734
Coffee254115
Dale242054
Dallas232932
Chilton230841
Russell22813
Covington227934
Escambia206131
Tallapoosa189191
Chambers185950
Pike162214
Clarke161819
Marion146136
Winston141924
Lawrence135336
Pickens127720
Geneva12638
Marengo125224
Bibb123938
Barbour120629
Butler118842
Randolph105922
Cherokee105524
Hale99732
Fayette96316
Clay93525
Washington93319
Henry8946
Monroe83811
Lowndes82129
Cleburne79914
Macon76522
Crenshaw72930
Conecuh72414
Lamar7138
Bullock70919
Perry6927
Wilcox64918
Sumter58922
Greene44218
Choctaw43519
Coosa3724
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