September 2, 2013 10:22:17 AM
STARKVILLE -- The major topic of conversation at the Seal Family Football Complex today will be you guessed it.....injuries.
Mississippi State University lost four starters (two on offense and two on defense) to injury during its 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State University in the 2013 Texas Kickoff Classic. The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog will quickly run down a unofficial injury report before MSU coach Dan Mullen is scheduled to address the media at 1 p.m. today and then follow the developments throughout the day.
- Senior quarterback Tyler Russell (concussion) - This is obviously the one worth monitoring for the foreseeable future if you're a MSU fan. The dooms day scenario for the MSU football came true with 2 minutes and 50 seconds left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs were down 14-3 to a Top 15 ranked opponent and their star, fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler Russell was laying face down, motionless on the Reliant Stadium turf. Suddenly MSU's contingent of the announced 35,874 in attendance Saturday were silent while watching their season possibly collapse just 42 minutes into their 2013 season.
"Yeah, there was letdown (because) you don't want to see your quarterback on the ground," MSU junior wide receiver Jameon Lewis said. "From what I saw, I immediately yelled out 'dang, he ain't moving'."
On a first-down scramble by Russell, the Bulldogs quarterback was dragged down by Oklahoma State University defensive tackle James Castleman while Cowboys sophomore linebacker Ryan Simmons finished the play. The replays shown on the stadium jumbotron and on the television broadcast appear to show inadverent contact between Simmons' leg and Russell head. Minutes later, Russell was being led off the field by the MSU training staff.
After the game, Mullen would only confirm Russell suffered a injury to the head and his status would be reevaluated in the next few days.
"I think Tyler overall is going to be okay," Mullen said. "He was responsive but anytime you have that type of head or neck issue, you're going to be very, very cautious."
Clearly with injuries to the head and concussion symptoms, it's day-by-day process by the MSU training and medical staff to make sure Russell can pass and go through perfectly every test given to him before he's allowed to even participate in practice, let alone a game. Before the injury Russell was 10 of 16 for 133 yards and a interception on a tipped ball in the first quarter. He had completed a pass to five different MSU receivers and seemed to gain confidence as the game went along when given time to oversee the defense. Russell's backup option Dak Prescott failed to move the offense and finished just 7 of 17 for 89 yards and a interception. MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning said he felt the sophomore backup "was ready to play" but wouldn't comment on if he'd get more snaps of preparation this coming week in practice.
"He was thrown into a situation and gave us his best effort but we need to look at it on film to see if it was correct from a execution standpoint," Koenning said.
- Junior safety Jay Hughes (achilles) - The Bulldogs were forced to play most of the game without Hughes after he was help off the field in the first quarter with what MSU officials later confirmed was a achilles injury. The post-game quotes revealed the possibility Hughes may be out for a significant portion of the 2013 season, if he is able to return at all. Hughes was comforted by MSU coach Dan Mullen, his father and MSU secondary coach Tony Hughes and several teammates while he was on the training table.
"I was hugging Jay while we were both in tears because he's such a great kid," MSU defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said. "Your heart goes out to a kid like that because he puts so much into the program and plays for two series. We've asked Jay to be the quarterback of the defense at times."
- Junior cornerback Jamerson Love (ankle) - Love, who is taking one of the starter spots left by 2012 NFL second round draft picks Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, suffered a severe ankle injury. The former star at Aberdeen High School suffered the injury in the second quarter and was ruled out of the game at halftime. Love's replacement was former West Point star and East Mississippi Community College transfer Justin Cox. Without being able to turn to suspended cornerback Will Redmond, the Bulldogs defensive backfield depth got limited quickly against the high-powered Oklahoma State four-wide attack. If Love is forced to miss a few games, MSU may have to get a freshman cornerback ready to play and not have the luxury of a redshirt.
- Junior right guard Justin Malone (left leg) - Malone was help off the field in the fourth quarter after being unable to move his left leg. The Bulldogs immediately turned to junior Ben Beckwith as Tobias Smith did not dress Saturday despite being listed on the team's active travel roster. Malone was part of a MSU interior offensive line that got manhandled by Oklahoma State. The Cowboys managed to make 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage Saturday in the 21-3 win.
- Junior middle linebacker Ferlando Bohanna (concussion) - The backup middle linebacker was forced to miss the contest Saturday after he wasn't cleared by the MSU medical staff following concussion symptoms. His loss creates a massive depth problem in the middle of the field and forces sophomore Bernardrick McKinney to absorb more snaps on defense than defensive coordinator Geoff Collins would obviously prefer.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
2. 'OzLand' to premiere locally Thursday ENTERTAINMENT