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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: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 577463

Reported Deaths: 11510
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson841981589
Mobile47171860
Madison37047533
Tuscaloosa26915465
Shelby26873256
Montgomery25918625
Baldwin24499328
Lee16949181
Calhoun15252332
Morgan15017290
Etowah14778370
Marshall12933235
Houston11774292
Elmore10761217
St. Clair10617252
Limestone10574158
Cullman10363205
Lauderdale10083254
DeKalb9382191
Talladega8836188
Walker7681287
Autauga7479114
Jackson7317117
Blount7266139
Colbert6635142
Coffee6163132
Dale5453117
Russell470642
Chilton4682117
Covington4649125
Franklin450081
Tallapoosa4440156
Escambia427882
Chambers3898125
Dallas3717163
Clarke367763
Marion3427106
Pike327879
Lawrence3225101
Winston294973
Bibb284565
Geneva276383
Marengo259967
Barbour246261
Pickens240062
Butler238272
Hale232778
Fayette225264
Henry209245
Monroe197241
Randolph196744
Cherokee196348
Washington180139
Macon168752
Crenshaw165558
Clay163759
Cleburne160245
Lamar149938
Lowndes144854
Wilcox130531
Bullock126142
Conecuh119630
Coosa116929
Perry109928
Sumter109032
Greene98736
Choctaw64325
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