After two years as the offensive coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners, Jeff Lebby has taken over as head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. A 5-6 start under Zach Arnett persuaded Mississippi State’s athletic director Zac Selmon to make his own hire, and he leaned on his Oklahoma connections to find one.
With Lebby taking over the program, what can Mississippi State fans expect from him?
What Will Jeff Lebby Bring To Mississippi State?
Every year that Lebby led the Oklahoma offense, the program finished with one of the top offenses in the country. Mississippi State fans are certainly familiar with putting up gaudy passing numbers, but expect Lebby to pursue a bit more balance in his offensive attack with the run game. Lebby runs a gap-heavy run scheme and will lean on it on early downs.
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Lebby’s offense will differ from Mike Leach’s in terms of motion and RPO usage. Leach’s offense was rather static, while Lebby’s offense will motion players around to create matchups and easy yardage. Lebby will also incorporate plenty of RPOs for that same purpose.
Lebby won’t be able to land his first full recruiting class until next year, but his hire being one of the first to be announced lets him get a jump start on locking up Mississippi State’s 2024 class and potentially flip some last-minute candidates to the Bulldogs. MSU holds the 42nd-ranked recruiting class in 2024, something that can’t persist any longer if they wish to compete in the SEC.
Where Lebby will be able to make an impact is in the transfer portal. An SEC team with an exciting new play-caller in charge will appeal to players seeking a fresh start, especially quarterbacks and wide receivers, two spots the Bulldogs need with Will Rogers hitting the transfer portal.
Lebby’s staff has yet to be announced as of the time of writing, but that should be finalized rather quickly. Depending on who he can pull to his staff, Lebby could bring in recruits from all over who want to play in the SEC.
The fan support for Lebby has already been through the roof and could bring in a new future for NIL to the Bulldogs. Lebby played a significant part in Oklahoma’s NIL directive, and I would expect that to continue now that he is at the helm of an SEC program. With increased fan buy-in and an athletic department committed to Lebby, Mississippi State’s NIL directive could be huge for the Bulldogs in bringing talent in.
What Will Lebby Have to Fix?
Lebby’s main priority will obviously be to get the Mississippi State offense to get back to scoring points, but he will have to get the defense to match that output as well. His defensive coordinator hire will have to be someone who can complement Lebby’s up-tempo nature and create havoc of his own, something the Bulldogs struggled to do this season.
Lebby will have to bring in a quarterback, and fast. When he arrived at Oklahoma, he snagged Dillon Gabriel out of the transfer portal almost immediately. With the portal opening up soon, Lebby has to do the same thing and find his signal caller for at least the 2024 season. Doing so means that he can build around him and sell a more intriguing product to other players in the portal.