If what Dan Mullen, the had coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs says is right, then this is the dawning of a new age for this this team. College football programs have a shelf lif eof only one year.

Mullen and his Bulldogs took a step in the right direction last season. But now, as Mullen feels the ehat toproduce a better winner and a more consistent program, the 2014 season becomes a crucial one for both Mullena and his staff.

Can this program take another step forward and become Vanderbilt of the SEC in 2014? Here are the five most pressing issues with the program according to cdispatch.com.

Who comes, who goes?

MSU returns 17 total starters from the 7-6 squad but none more important than  quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott tossed for 1,940 yards on  156-of-267 passes with 10 touchdowns. He added a team-best 829 yards on the  ground with 13 rushing scores. Prescott leads all returning Southeastern  Conference quarterbacks with 17 career rushing touchdowns. 

Where are the players who suffered season-ending injuries last year physically  in their rehabilitation?  

In a 2013 season that was revenged by injuries, MSU will welcome back  veterans Jay Hughes and Justin Malone to the team after suffering devastating  season-ending surgeries. Hughes, the starting strong safety in the 2013 opening  game loss to Oklahoma State, went down in the first drive of the season to an achilles injury. He'll now try to slowly work back into a safety rotation with  the two players that two over his position in a platoon role in Dee Arrington  and Kendrick Market. Malone, the projected starter at right guard, was lost in the Oklahoma State  game to a season-ending leg injury and will try to find chemistry and depth with  returning seniors Dillon Day, Blaine Clausell and Ben Beckwith on the offensive  line.

Will MSU offensive line coach John Hevesy finally build depth up front?   

The MSU offensive line returns three senior starters (Dillon Day at center,  Blaine Clausell at left tackle and Ben Beckwith at guard). The Bulldogs also  bring back spot starter Damien Robinson at right tackle. It'll be interesting to  see who the coaching staff initially tabs to replace projected draft pick Gabe Jackson at left guard. With four-star prospects Jake Thomas and Kent Flowers  coming off redshirt years mixed in with sophomore Jamaal Clayborn and converted  tight end Rufus Warren, Hevesy might be able to finally rotate 6-8 offensive  lineman in games after five years of being afraid of one injury setting back his  plans.

Who steps up at receiver?

Every wide receiver from MSU's 2013 season returns. Yes, read that sentence  again and then, go back up to question 1 to see why Prescott is considered an  early All-SEC first-team favorite. De'Runnya Wilson made a surprise impact in  his freshman season with 26 catches and three touchdowns in 13 games. Prescott  will also have veteran targets in Jameon Lewis, Robert Johnson and Joe Morrow to throw the football to and will look for improved numbers as Gonzales, who was  promoted to co-offensive coordinator with Hevesy this winter, has much more  experienced group in 2014.  

Where does Chris Jones play?

Ask Chris Jones what he is and he'll say defensive end. The fact is however,  the former five-star recruit from Houston, Miss., was kicked inside to tackle  for the 2013 season in order to get him on the field early. "I'm not a defensive tackle," Jones said Sept. 7 after the victory over  Alcorn State. "I'm a defensive end that is playing defensive tackle for the  moment. Hopefully my label and position is going to change." Jones had 32 tackles, a team-high seven tackles for loss and three sacks at  defensive tackle but with a void at defensive end with the graduation loss of  Denico Autry, it's conceivable all 300 pounds of Jones could be back at his  favorite position this spring.