September 29, 2010 10:08:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- After featuring in Mississippi State''s first three football games, backup quarterback Tyler Russell found himself in an unfamiliar position last Saturday.
In a pivotal game against Georgia, one where State''s season record could have dropped to 1-3 if it lost, Russell didn''t log a snap for the first time this season.
Conversely, Saturday''s 24-12 win was starter Chris Relf''s first time to take every snap in a game.
Relf turned in the gutsiest and most dynamic performance of his career, becoming the first MSU player to pass and rush for 100 yards each in a game since 2000.
More important, Relf led State to the much-needed win and guided. the team on a decisive 93-yard drive to give MSU a 10-point lead with a little more than four minutes to play.
The view from the sideline didn''t bother Russell at all.
"I''m not selfish. I want to win," Russell said Tuesday. "Chris did a great job, so it''s no reason to be selfish when we''re winning, you know?
"Obviously, they think Chris gave us the best opportunity to win in that particular situation. So I''m all right."
Outside of Georgia starter Aaron Murray, no other redshirt or true freshman quarterback in the SEC has logged snaps comparable to Russell.
The prerogative MSU coaches have to build Russell''s experience is set to continue, as head coach Dan Mullen insists Saturday''s game won''t change the team''s long-term plans.
"He takes, I''d say, 40 percent of the reps at practice still," Mullen said. "I don''t think he''s going to lose any focus of what''s expected of him and to be expected to play this year."
Offensive coordinator Les Koenning said he was impressed with how Russell handled not playing against Georgia, adding the freshman has been "absolutely great" through the entire process.
The Bulldogs (2-2) aim for their second-straight win against Alcorn State (3-0) on Saturday, and Russell''s workload is expected to go back to normal.
But for the first time since preparing for Memphis, Russell doesn''t have game film from the previous week to review.
At least not film of his work.
Russell says evaluating Relf''s reps on film is just as effective as breaking down film of himself.
"Just got to go back and see the things Chris did right and see the things Chris might not have done right," Russell said. "I think it''s better if you get a chance to sit and watch the game and see how it plays out. A couple of times I was able to go over and tell Chris some of the things they were doing on defense that he couldn''t see on the field but I could see off it.
"So when I''m in that situation, I''m trying to win so I''m going to tell Chris what he needs to do, and the things I see."
As for the psychology of the young quarterback, Russell squashed the notion of not playing against Georgia affecting his confidence. And not having a set pattern of which series he''ll play from game-to-game actually helps motivate him.
"That''s why I''ve always got to be prepared," Russell said. "That makes it better for me to go out here not knowing when I''m going to go in, because that makes me prepare much harder. We get the same ratio of reps with the ones. I''m getting prepared, so I''m still getting prepared."
NOTE: Mullen said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was limited at Tuesday''s practice and is "still being protected a bit" with a sprained ankle suffered against Georgia ... Starting tight end Marcus Green (knee) ran Monday but was limited Tuesday with swelling.
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