Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead spoke about his days with Penn State during the head coach press conference in Tampa.
TAMPA, Fla. – On Saturday, the head coaches from Iowa and No. 18 Mississippi State met for a joint press conference. Bulldog coach Joe Moorhead spoke about his former coaching days at Penn State, where he served as the offensive coordinator for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
In both seasons, Iowa and Penn State clashed for conference matchups. In 2016, the Nittany Lions stomped the Hawkeyes, 41-14. The next season resulted in Penn State’s favor, but it came down to the wire. The Nittany Lions squeaked out a 21-19 win on the game’s final play.
Although it’s only two games, but Moorhead has plenty of experience exploiting Iowa on the offensive side of the ball. In both of Penn State’s wins with Moorhead at the offensive helm, the Nittany Lions gained 1,178 yards in both games combined.
“There’s relative familiarity, [playing] Iowa in 2016 and 2017 just on the offensive side of the ball,” Moorhead said. “Like anything, coaches tweak and change and make adjustments, and with a great staff, we’re certainly expecting a great challenge like what we saw last year.”
Moorhead’s Mississippi State offense, led by quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, does have some elements from the Penn State days, though.
“There’s a significant amount of carryover,” Moorhead said. “Obviously, a lot of things are based on your personnel. We want to be philosophically sound. Our belief is that we want our scheme to match our personnel, not our personnel match our scheme. There’s some things we’ve done from Penn State, other places where I’ve been.”
Bulldogs declaring for the NFL Draft
Much like how Iowa tight end Noah Fant declared for the NFL Draft before the season’s end, Mississippi State had one of its star players do the same.
Defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons announced last week that he’d forgo his senior season, but he will play in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.
For Moorhead, he wanted his players to make the best decisions for their futures, but he was pleased with the choice to return, chalking up the decision to his team’s togetherness.
“For the guys that came back and decided they wanted to play in their last game in the maroon and white, I think it’s a testament to their commitment to the program, but more importantly, to their teammates. We have a team that’s incredibly close – great chemistry – and I think they want to finish this out for each other.”