For as long as there has been a past, there have been those who attempt to predict the future.
Whether by movements of planets and stars across the cosmos or through divine inspiration coming from angels or demons, those both ancient and present have attempted to discern the contents of the murky future in front of them.
Some may use the position of Mars, the red planet, as a sign to be cautious of burns or scrapes. Others, looking past the mundane and into the changing tides of humanity, see the bright red glowing orb as a harbinger of war, strife and struggle for all kind.
Through gazing into a crystal ball, tracing the lines of a palm, interpreting tea leaves, translating ancient runes or reading the comings and goings of heavenly bodies over the centuries and millenia in the night sky, the goal is the same: figure out what’s going to happen.
Oracles. Seers. Prophets. Astrologists.
Oh, and sports writers.
If you haven’t gathered, this a predictions column. Specifically, one based around Mississippi State’s 2012 football season. Though if you truly can see the future, you knew what it was before you read the first word.
Why do we try and predict the future? Well, maybe we just hope that we’re right and, after our prophecies come true, we can tell everyone how smart we are. Isn’t that the whole point of fantasy football, proving to friends or strangers that we knew who was going to do well before they ever did it?
But with guesses – and no matter how educated they are, they’re still that – we can often be made fools in our own confidence. It’s a dangerous thing to not just have convictions, but to put them to the test, allowing the world (or nine of your closest buddies) to watch and either praise your foresight or mock your errors they, of course, saw coming from the start.
A few years ago, my brother drafted Tom Brady in the first round of our fantasy football draft. He was coming off a record-breaking season and seemed like a sure thing to lead this Carskadon-selected fantasy team to glory. Then, in the first game of the season, Brady went down to the ground, clutching his leg in pain. His year was over.
The unknown can make fools of us all.
So, it’s time for me to make a fool of myself. A quick primer before we jump into it: I’m going to list the predictions by numbers, because that’s easy, but they are not in order of how much I believe in them, how soon they will happen, or really anything sensical like that. Like a properly-shuffled pack of Tarot cards, these are random. For some, I’ll elaborate and explain my thoughts. For others, I will not.
Now read, laugh at me and save this for December so you can tell me how very wrong I was and why I should have known better.
- Through returning kicks, catching passes and general fast-ness, junior running back LaDarius Perkins – who’s wrapped up the starting job – will lead the team in all-purpose yards, and it won’t be close.
Sophomore receiver Jameon Lewis will be second. He’s already returning kickoffs, and he can do punts, too, if the coaches let him. He’s the best Wildcat option on the team and a breakout candidate in the slot.
- To that end, I’m betting (pride, not money) that Lewis obliterates the rest of the receivers in yards-after-catch average. He’s got moves in the open field. Like Jagger. Or Welker, maybe.
- Someone on the team will have more interceptions than All-American cornerback Johnthan Banks. Either Nickoe Whitley, Corey Broomfield or Darius Slay – or quite possibly all three – will benefit from opposing quarterbacks avoiding Banks.
- Speaking of signal-callers: call him The Chosen One, The Boy Who Passed, whatever you like, but junior Tyler Russell will break every single-season passing record Mississippi State has.
- Except for interceptions.
- Continuing in the accolades department: Russell will show up on a Heisman watch list at some point this season. I’m not saying he’ll be Top 10 or even Top 20, I’m not saying he’ll stay in the conversation and I’m not saying he has any chance of winning (though I’m not totally writing off the possibility, either). All I’m sayin’ is he’ll show up on some metric, someone’s dark-horse Heisman list or get a mention from Mark May on College Football Live. Something of that nature.
- Someone else who will show up: MSU sports information director Joe Galbraith (@joestate on the Twitters). The over/under for how many interview videos and TV broadcasts he somehow shows up in the background of is, conservatively, at least two dozen. You’ll recognize him because he’ll be wearing sunglasses. And tweeting/texting on his phone.
6’5” redshirt freshman receiver Joe Morrow will lead the Bulldogs in receiving touchdowns.
- But he’ll be fifth or lower in yards and receptions.
- Both Morrow and sophomore tight end Malcolm Johnson will catch touchdowns against Arkansas on November 17th in Starkville. Call it a hunch.
- Speaking of tight ends, sixth-year senior Marcus Green will be Mr. Reliable for Russell early in the season.
- We’ll get to hear my favorite song more than ever this year: SANDSTORM. More scoring means more kickoff music.
- Sophomore P.J. Jones and freshman Quay Evans aren’t even on the two-deep at defensive tackle right now. By the end of the season, only senior Josh Boyd will be talked about more.
- On the other line, right guard Ben Beckwith will be one of offensive line coach John Hevesy’s most reliable and important backups.
- And he won’t get any credit for it, because he’s a lineman.
Senior linebacker Cam Lawrence will lead the team in tackles. By a lot. (Hope I don’t break this limb I’m going out on, right?)
- But freshman Benardrick McKinney and junior Deontae Skinner will be the pass-interceptin’, quarterback-sackin’, fumble-forcin’ linebacker duo that grabs people’s attention.
- He won’t wow anyone on individual plays, but by season’s end, Russell will have more rushing yards and rushing touchdowns than most would have guessed. (The vaguer I am, the more likely it is I can claim to be right.)
- Junior safety Nickoe Whitely will [continue to] become one of the most recognized safeties in the SEC.
- People are expecting big things from junior college All-American defensive end Denico Autry. He’ll be big-time for MSU, and ought to lead the team in sacks, but I’m betting there will be a surprise or two (the good kind) among Chris Wilson’s group of ends.
- And finally, the Egg Bowl will be State’s last game of the year. Because MSU will be playing its bowl game in January.
Predicting the future is an inaccurate and chance-dependent business. Even the most certain of expectations can fall through, while the craziest of calls can somehow come out right.
Let’s be honest. How much do we really know? Like the bounces of the football, things could go in any direction. That’s what makes it fun.
In the words of a semi-famous professor of divination, when asked if he’d seen anything unusual recently, “Mars is bright tonight.”