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Bye-week Tuesday - Mullen on QB Tyler Russell starting vs. LSU: 'That's still the plan'

 

 

 

Matt Stevens

 

STARKVILLE - Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen was short and to the point when asked about his starting quarterback situation Tuesday.  

 

When asked if fifth-year senior Tyler Russell was getting in repititions with the first-team offense and if the plan was still to have him start vs. No. 6 LSU (4-0) in less than two weeks, Mullen didn't waiver from his comments after the 62-7 victory over Troy Saturday.  

 

"That's still the plan," Mullen said after practice Tuesday.  

 

And there was no misunderstanding Mullen Saturday night in the post-game media conference.  

 

Minutes after a 62-7 victory over Troy Saturday, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen made sure everybody was clear on who was the starting quarterback of his football. The problem was the person he named didn't play in the 55-point blowout at Davis Wade Stadium. 

 

"Tyler (Russell) is our starting quarterback," Mullen said Saturday. "We plan on Tyler being the starter against LSU and going forward." 

 

On a first-down scramble in the season-opening loss to then-No. 13 Oklahoma State in Houston, Russell was dragged down by Cowboys defensive tackle James Castleman while sophomore linebacker Ryan Simmons finished the play. The replays shown on the stadium jumbo-tron and on the television broadcast appear to show inadvertent contact between Simmons' leg and Russell head. Minutes later, Russell was being led off the field by the MSU training staff and would later be diagnosed with a concussion that would cause him to miss the following three games.  

 

The Bulldogs fifth-year coach now has fans and interested observers wondering where this places the role of sophomore Dak Prescott. The MSU backup quarterback, who has been listed in front of Russell on the official depth chart for two weeks, finished with 13 of 21 through the air for 233 yards and a touchdown Saturday. The 240-pound quarterback also led MSU in rushing in the first half with 53 yards a two scores. In just over 12 minutes directing the MSU offense, Prescott accounted for a career-high 296 all-purpose yards. MSU never punted once in the blowout win and Prescott's energy is what many consider to be the catalyst to such a dominating offensive performance.  

 

Through four games, Prescott is fourth among Southeastern Conference quarterbacks in rushing and ninth among all players in total offense with 231 yards per game. However, the defenses Prescott has faced in the last three games were a Football Championship subdivision opponent, 96th (Auburn) and 85th (Troy) in the nation.  

 

For the first time in SEC history two players (Prescott, and junior wide receiver Jameon Lewis) on the same team were able to throw, run and receive a touchdown in the same game.  

 

In a first half that saw them leave the field with a 45-7 lead, Prescott led MSU in passing yards (207), rushing yards (53) and also accounted for a 36-yard touchdown catch on a trick play. According to collegefootballreference.com, MSU had never had a player since 1978 account for a touchdown by running, throwing and catching the football. 

 

"That was fun wasn't it?" MSU coach Dan Mullen asked the media after the game. "We got to start having more fun like that from now on don't we?" 

 

With 13 minutes and 44 seconds left in the second quarter of the 62-7 victory over Troy, Lewis added another element and statistic to his MSU career - passing touchdown. On a throwback pass trick play, Lewis connected with a wide open Dak Prescott and the sophomore quarterback was able to rumble behind four blockers downfield for 36 yards for the score. 

 

Mullen spoke briefly about Prescott's role in the offense when asked about getting more touches to senior tailback LaDarius Perkins. It is clear that Prescott will still have a role in the MSU offense as a run-threat option out of the quarterback position.  

 

"If they're going to take the ball out of (Perkins') hands and we're going to go run for 200 yards, we're going to take that," Mullen said. "It's more of challenge for the defense because they're worried about Dak running and so if they're going to let Dak run, we'll let Dak run I guess." 

 

 

 

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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