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Russell forced to leave loss with apparent head injury


Matthew Stevens



HOUSTON -- The doomsday scenario for the Mississippi State University football team came true with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left in the third quarter. 


Trailing No. 13 Oklahoma State University 14-3, MSU's fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler Russell was face down and motionless on the Reliant Stadium turf. MSU's contingent in the announced crowd of 35,874 Saturday was silent while it watched their dreams of a successful season go cloudy 42 minutes into the season. 


"There was letdown (because) you don't want to see your quarterback on the ground," MSU junior wide receiver Jameon Lewis said. "From what I saw, I immediately yelled out, 'Dang, he ain't moving.' " 


On a first-down scramble, OSU defensive tackle James Castleman dragged Russell down as sophomore linebacker Ryan Simmons finished the play. Replays showed inadvertent contact between Simmons' leg and Russell's head. Minutes later, Russell was being led off the field by members of the MSU training staff. 


After the game, Mullen only would confirm Russell suffered a injury to the head and that his status would be re-evaluated in the next few days. 


"I think Tyler overall is going to be OK," Mullen said. "He was responsive, but anytime you have that type of head or neck issue, you're going to be very, very cautious." 


Before the injury, Russell was 10 of 16 for 133 yards and a interception on a tipped ball in the first quarter. He completed passes to five receivers and seemed to gain confidence as the game progressed, especially when given time to oversee the defense. 


"I should have done a better job of taking shots down the field against them," Mullen said referencing MSU's offensive play-calling. "We were trying to protect and slowly break in young wide receivers who now have a game underneath their belt." 


Russell, a Parade All-American out of high school, was seen in MSU's locker room holding an ice bag against the back of his neck. MSU officials said Russell was off limits to the media after the game. 


Backup quarterback Dak Prescott struggled to gain any momentum with his legs or arm after replacing Russell. 


"I was pretty comfortable today because all I tried to do was get our offense a quick score to change the game," Prescott said. "I needed to give our team a chance in the end to win, and it couldn't happen." 


OSU negated the running ability of the 230-pound Prescott by using a pair of All-Big 12 Conference defensive tackles to stuff him. 


"Those were big to the game, and I'm sure it put a dent in the offensive confidence and momentum each time that happened," Prescott said. 


Prescott had similar problems throwing the ball, going 7 of 17 for 89 yards with an interception. MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning said he felt Prescott "was ready to play," but he wouldn't comment on if he'd get more snaps this week in practice. 


"He was thrown into a situation and gave us his best effort, but we need to look at it on film to see if it was correct from a execution standpoint," Koenning said. 


Russell has never officially missed a game due to injury in his MSU career. He didn't play in the 2011 Music City Bowl after wearing a boot on his foot for the two weeks of preparation. 


Members of the MSU medical staff took Russell into the tunnel after evaluating him on the training table. 


MSU will open its home slate next week against Alcorn State University. It will then travel to Auburn University for its first Southeastern Conference game. 


Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.



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