October 3, 2012 10:16:06 PM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Tyler Russell had said previously that he does not hear the crowd and not even the famous cowbells at Davis Wade Stadium.
Logic would suggest this type of tunnel vision focus from the Mississippi State University junior quarterback would benefit him in the hostile environment that comes with playing on the road in Southeastern Conference.
"I think being on the road in those environments, to him, doesn't get to him," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. "He's going to take care of his business."
Russell and the Bulldogs return to the road Saturday for an 11:21 a.m. start at the University of Kentucky.
Russell was not available to the media Wednesday for a second consecutive week.
Russell has struggled to complete consistent passes and is only boasting a 50 percent completion rate on third downs (13-of-26 for 173 yards) and even less efficient between the opponent's 40-to-20-yard-line (13-of-27).
"You have to see what plan they're going to bring in and what approach they're taking to the game," Russell said earlier in the season. "So if they're going to defend the pass, (there's) a little bit more opportunity to run. If they're just going to crowd the line of scrimmage and keep man coverage on the outside with everybody else staying on the line of scrimmage they're going to force us to throw the ball some."
According to his coach, Russell's numbers in wins last season on the road against the University of Kentucky and the second half that he came in to execute a comeback against the University of Alabama at Birmingham were more about the opponent than his mental will in tough situations.
"To me, it's who you're playing, what's our game plan is and how the game is going sometimes can skew the stats on some people," Mullen said. "He started the game last year (against the University of Kentucky) and I'm pretty sure. I know both (Russell and senior Chris Relf) played."
In last season's 28-16 victory at Kentucky, MSU came in to Commonwealth Stadium struggling in the pass game and made the decision to start Russell. The decision payed off earlier as Russell was able to go 9-of-12 for 172 yards and a touchdown pass to Malcolm Johnson when the Wildcats were putting eight and sometimes nine defenders near the line of scrimmage.
"I think last year we caught them off guard last year when we actually came out throwing and were able to open up the run game with a lead with Vick Ballard and others," MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning said.
Kentucky loses starting tailback to season-ending injury: Kentucky senior running back CoShik Williams will not play when the Wildcats (1-4, 0-2 in SEC) host No. 20 MSU (4-0, 1-0) due to a season-ending injury.
The Wildcats starting tailback in two games suffered a torn labrum in his hip joint Saturday in a home loss against No. 6 University of South Carolina.
Williams has rushed for 66 yards on 14 carries but the blow is just by losing another offensive weapon when UK is already preparing to start two freshmen quarterbacks in Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles.
"Next man up," UK coach Joker Phillips said. "That's the attitude you have to take."
Kentucky has three tailbacks (Raymond Sanders, Jonathan George and Dyshawn Mobley) averaging at five yards per carry and over five yards per carry in the first half of games.
Williams led UK with 64 yards on 15 carries in the 28-16 loss against MSU last season.
Sanders leads the Wildcats with 275 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. He'll likely get the start Saturday and did not play in the last meeting in Lexington in 2011.