September 7, 2013 10:08:27 AM
STARKVILLE - Welcome to Mississippi State's first home game of the 2013 college football season. The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog is LOOKING LIVE.....at the currently renovated Davis Wade Stadium as the Bulldogs host Football Championship Subdivision Alcorn State University (2:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2) in the hope of reversing the momentum from the 21-3 loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State University in Houston last weekend.
As always go ahead and refresh this blog post up to kickoff for the latest information on the game.
UPDATED (1:54 p.m.) - Mississippi State will have seven new starters from last week's game. As we all knew quarterback Tyler Russell (concussion), right guard Justin Malone (left leg) and Jay Hughes (achilles) had signficant injuries and none of those three will dress today vs. Alcorn State.
The other four new starters include tailback Josh Robinson for senior LaDarius Perkins, who wore a boot on his left foot all week, Dee Arrington in at safety for senior Nickoe Whitley and Cedric Jiles in for Jamerson Love at cornerback. Love suffered a severe ankle injury in the first half of last week's loss to Oklahoma State but was listed Monday as questionable.
5 Keys to the game
1. What can Mississippi State University expect from sophomore quarter Dak Prescott in his first start?
MSU coach Dan Mullen will get a chance to see what sophomore Dak Prescott can do when he's asked to run the full spread offense scheme Saturday against Alcorn State University (2:35 p.m., CSS).
MSU (0-1) now must rebound from just the third game in the Dan Mullen era where they failed to score a touchdown and now must get sophomore Dak Prescott ready this week to make his first career collegiate start against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
When he was inserted in the loss last week to No. 13 Oklahoma State, Prescott failed to move the offense and finished just 7 of 17 for 89 yards and a interception.
"We're just going to run our offense," Mullen said. "Dak's obviously going to run it with a little different flavor than Tyler runs it, a little bit more athletic of a guy. Schematically we're not going to change a whole lot."
2. Can Mississippi State show even more aggressiveness with their pass rush?
Both Mullen and new defensive coordinator Geoff Collins agreed they were pleased with being able to contain Oklahoma State's high-powered passing game. Collins promised "juice" and "havoc" and fulfilled that promised by blitzing from all different kinds of angles. MSU will need that continue and sacks, which were missing from the stat sheet in Houston, will eventually follow against programs less dominant in the offensive line.
3. Against a FCS opponent, will MSU open up the passing game more?
Mullen said the film review of its 21-3 loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State University Saturday showed waiting for the perfect moment for a deep throw that just never came about. This was a major reason for MSU going 2 for 16 on third down conversions against the Cowboys defense.
"They gave us something (and) I never got to it," Mullen said Monday. "You were waiting on it. With a lot of play calling you're waiting on situations sometimes. We should have gotten to stuff early."
4. How will MSU deal with the injuries suffered in season-opening loss?
Mullen confirmed Monday junior safety Jay Hughes will be surgery to repair a torn right achilles tendon suffered in the first quarter of MSU's loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State University Saturday in Houston. He is as Mullen called him "the quarterback of the defense" and it will be interesting to see how much chemistry can be formed with three or four starters out of the lineup Saturday. Along with Russell at quarterback, two other MSU starters are being listed as "doubtful" to play in the Bulldogs home opener Saturday vs. Alcorn State University (1-0). Junior right guard Justin Malone is doubtful with a unspecified left leg injury. Junior middle linebacker Ferlando Bohanna is listed as "doubtful" to play this week vs. Alcorn State and will likely not practice this week.
5. How long will Alcorn State's depth issue be a problem?
Schools in the Football Championship Subdivision are limited to just 63 scholarships, which is 22 less than a Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Alcorn State to a program that's had five head coaches in the past six seasons and picked to finish last in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. It'll be interesting to see how long the Braves can physically handle the MSU program at the line of scrimmage.
Players to Watch
Sophomore QB Dak Prescott
In what he hopes is in front of another sellout crowd, sophomore Dak Prescott will likely make his first career start Saturday against Alcorn State University (2:35 p.m., CSS). When he was inserted in the loss last week to No. 13 Oklahoma State, Prescott failed to move the offense and finished just 7 of 17 for 89 yards and a interception. Will he improve when given a chance to run the entire spread option offense.
Junior S Kendrick Market
The South Panola High School product came in immediately and provided a stop-gap at safety for MSU after the Hughes injury. It'll be interesting to see if Collins swaps Market with sophomore Dee Arrington in the strong safety spot to make sure other players in front are lined up correctly.
Senior RB Arnold Walker
Walker carried the ball 16 times for 75 yards and a career-high single game, three touchdowns. Walker only needs 136 yards to move up into the Alcorn State record books for most career rushing yards.
Sophomore CB Anthony Williams, Jr.
He intercepted a pass and forced a fumble on special teams in the Braves' 63-12 victory over Edward Waters. Williams, Jr. was also credited for two tackles.
Numbers of the game
Number of consecutive starts for MSU senior left guard Gabe Jackson, which is second all-time in the nation.
In the last 30 years, MSU has started 0-2 just three times in program history.
Average margin of victory in MSU's three home opener victories under coach Dan Mullen.
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.
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