October 21, 2012 1:14:28 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- LaDarius Perkins doesn't have to worry about his teammates believing in his abilities.
Perkins' biggest worry Saturday following a 125-yard performance and a touchdown in the Mississippi State University football team's 45-3 victory against Middle Tennessee State University is that his consistency becomes boring.
"You just don't ever have to worry about Perkins having an off game," MSU junior quarterback Tyler Russell said. "It's one of those things that is constant because he works so hard in practice. LaDarius Perkins will always be there."
MSU's junior tailback even had Russell go on his Twitter page to call him "the best running back in college football."
After a 64-yard touchdown run, Perkins remained one of just two running backs in the Football Bowl Subdivision (along with San Diego State University's Adam Muema) with a rushing touchdown in every game this season. Perkins has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in rushing four times in the past five games. He had just one 100-yard performance in his first 28 games at MSU.
"If everybody does their job, we'll all have success, and that's just my attitude all the time," Perkins said. "I know this is boring, but I can't get these numbers without my offensive line or fullbacks in front of me."
Perkins has gone from the sidekick of Vick Ballard, who is the starting running back with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, to the workhorse back for No. 15 MSU (7-0, 4-0 SEC). He leads a rushing attack that was eighth in the Southeastern Conference at 172.67 yards per game entering Saturday night's game.
By the end of the first quarter, Perkins had 15 carries for 55 yards, which helped the Bulldogs secure a 10-minute time of possession advantage (12 minutes, 33 seconds to 2:27). MSU's effectiveness on the ground allowed it to be 5-for-6 on third-down conversions. MSU entered the game converting less than 40 percent on third down.
"We wanted to try and establish the run because they're a high tempo offense ... and it's something we were able to do last week, too (against Tennessee) is take a high powered offense and take them out of the game," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "Perk did a great job pounding away, pounding away, and then broke the big one."
After what was considered a pedestrian effort level in the first half, Perkins' 64-yard run on a 'gas' play allowed the 190-pounder to go to another gear and outrun the defense. The run was the longest of Perkins' career and a play he said he saw coming for a couple of plays.
"I felt I was going to break one because you have to look at the way the defense is lined up," Perkins said. "You see them bring more people up to the line and if you get through the line then all you need is that burst and you're gone."
Perkins is considered the leader of one of the most talented tailback stables in school history. Redshirt freshman tailback Josh Robinson even nicknamed Perkins "the rabbit" because of his quick twitch running style.
On Saturday, Perkins had 20 of the Bulldogs' 33 carries. Six of those touches were made by non-taibacks. As MSU prepares to play No. 1 Alabama (7-0 , 4-0) next week, Perkins likely will be targeted by one of the nation's stingiest defenses.
"I'm just glad it's finally here where we've been paying attention to it, but now we can actually talk about paying attention to them," Perkins said. "It's the reason we come to Mississippi State to play games like that."