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Sunday Talk with Dan Mullen: "If Tyler (Russell) is healthy and ready to go, he'll be playing"




Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - In his weekly media teleconference, Mississippi State University head coach Dan Mullen said Sunday his quarterback situation is pretty simple - if Tyler Russell is medically cleared to play, he'll start this week at Auburn University.  


"If Tyler is healthy and ready to go, he'll be playing quarterback for us," Mullen said Sunday. "If he's not, then Dak (Prescott) will be playing quarterback for us." 


Prescott earned his first collegiate start at quarterback due to the concussion of starter suffered by Russell last week and showcased his athletic ability on designed rollouts and scrambling throughout the first half. He finished 12 for 19 for 174 yards and three total touchdowns in a 51-7 victory over Alcorn State University Saturday. With Russell on the sidelines wearing a headset and in gym shorts, his sophomore backup showed proficiency against the FCS defense in making specific throws necessary in Mullen's spread-option offense. In the first half, Prescott spread the ball around to seven different receivers and both of his two touchdown strikes were thrown only where MSU receivers could possibly make the catch. 


"I thought he played really well," Mullen said of his evaluation of Dak Prescot. "I thought he managed the offense really well. He missed one or two reads. He missed two or three checks he could've made. Overall his performance was very good."  


Mullen said he doesn't expect Russell to be available in practice this week till later in the week and Prescott will continue to take early first-team reps in preparation for starting at Auburn in the Southeastern Conference opener for both school Saturday (6:30 p.m., ESPN2).  




Here's a few other noteworthy items from Mullen's teleconference:  




- Mullen said senior tailback LaDarius Perkins suffered a sprained ankle in the opening weekend 21-3 loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State University. He was held out Saturday against Alcorn State for precautionary reasons but is expected to play at Auburn this weekend. 




- The Bulldogs fifth-year coach said third-down conversions (MSU is 7 for 29 this season in that situation) is the most disappointing aspect to the MSU offense so far through two games and the coaching staff will evaluate play calling in those scenarios to try and improve that percentage.  


"We're going to study that a lot this week and look at exactly what we're doing," Mullen said. "That is probably the most disappointing part of our game right now. We're going to really look into that and see what we can do to make sure we can improve that area for us." 


My boss, Dispatch managing editor Slim Smith, wrote a column in Sunday's edition on MSU's future offensive problems and how they weren't solved at all in the victory against Alcorn State - http://cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=26924 




- The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog asked about the progress of freshman wide receiver De'Runnya Wilson after the 6-foot-6 receiver has caught two passes in each of his first two college games. I'll have a feature on him in Monday's edition as the converted basketball player continues his journey from afterthought recruit to impact first-year player.  


"Obviously he has a lot things left to still learn like being on top of the speed of the game, he's got to sure up his assignments but the great thing about him is given the opportunity to make a play, he has made them," Mullen said. "We saw that in camp. This is a young guy that has the ability but we just have to get him the consistency to make those plays." 




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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