November 17, 2013 1:30:59 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State didn't use any mind games or trickery Saturday in announcing its starting quarterback.
MSU went back to the original starting lineup introduction on the video board at Davis Wade with Tyler Russell front and center as the final player announced.
The fifth-year senior was 15 of 24 for 144 yards and one interception in a 20-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama, but he was forced to leave the game late in the fourth quarter with a reported shoulder injury.
"He got checked out by the doctors and he said he was OK, but (Russell) wasn't sure he could put enough on the ball when he went back out there," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "He then came off and said he didn't think he could help the team and throw the football, so I went with the kid that could throw it at all."
Freshman Damian Williams saw his first action since a 62-7 blowout victory against Troy on Sept. 21. In what Mullen described as a "unfair situation" the former three-star product from Louisiana was 0-for-5 and was sacked once while leading the final two drives.
"I figured I would get some snaps as the backup this week when I realized Dak wasn't able to go," Williams said. "I was nervous, but it wasn't because I wasn't prepared."
Mullen ruled sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott inactive after he suffered a pinched nerve in his left arm in the loss last week at Texas A&M. Mullen said Prescott's status wouldn't be evaluated until Wednesday and he was watching warmups in sweatpants more than an hour before the opening kickoff.
"Dak is day to day and at least, that's what they tell them," Mullen said. "We'll evaluate Tyler and Dak tomorrow and see if they can go. If they can't, we'll get Damian ready to play."
Special teams hurts MSU again as Sobiesk and Swedenburg struggle in kicking game
MSU coaches thought they had the problems in the kicking game figured out, but a personnel switch couldn't prevent more missed opportunities.
Walk-on freshman kicker Evan Sobiesk, who had made 1 of 2 in the past two weeks, missed a 23-yard field goal in the first half that would've tied the score. Sobiesk had won the job from sophomore Devon Bell.
"We have to be more consistent in every phase of our kicks," Mullen said.
MSU is 7 of 15 on field goals this season. The longest conversion is a 40-yarder by Bell in the season opener against Oklahoma State. Bell took the first MSU punt of the night and downed a 47-yard kick inside the 10-yard-line. However, Mullen then turned to senior Baker Swedenburg for the final five punts. He averaged 41.4 yards.
"They're guy bombed his punts all night and we just didn't do that," Mullen said. "We have to do something like this right every time if you're going to be a solid SEC West team. That's what national championship programs do."
MSU announces 29th consecutive sellout
MSU officials announced the game was the program's 29th consecutive sellout. The announced attendance of 57,211 was noticeably larger than the last home attendance for the game vs. Kentucky, where whole sections were left empty by the second quarter, but school officials still announced as a sellout.
The drafted MSU baseball players, MSU volleyball team, and assorted military personnel were all honored on the field during television timeouts of the ESPN broadcast.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.